How appropriate, tonight being Halloween, for the First Family of Horror, Bush pére and Bush fils, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of Game Four of the World Series between “their” Texas Rangers and “your” San Francisco Giants. The boos that greet the Bushes rock the Mission so loud they wake hungover hipsters who instinctively reach for an emergency earthquake app.
We’ve had our political differences, but as Giants’ fans we realize that we have the Bushes to thank (particularly you, W.) for bringing “torture” back into popular culture.
As a policy it may have been a disaster, but as a metaphor for the emotional roller coaster of the Giants’ season, it works.
Two: Endless Summer
At the 500 Club on Guerrero, Madison Bumgarner gets an ovation as he’s introduced to the television audience. Born the year of the Loma Prieta quake, he’s got a lazy, seductively slow delivery, and a sad hound-dog expression. He looks like someone to cut school with and go fishing.
Buster Posey says Bumgarner’s fastball is deceptive; with that delivery, you’re thinking the ball will be slow until it’s right on top of your hands. Very difficult to get the timing right. Posey has a thing for deceptive pitching. In that respect, he also looks to Bumgarner’s changeup.
Although he walks Elvis Andrus, the first batter he sees, on four balls, MadBum’s not ruffled in the least. Seven pitches later, he’s out of the inning.
With a little help from Freddy Sanchez. The Rangers lineup is filled with right-handed hitters, who today face the southpaw Bumgarner. They know that unlike most young pitchers, he’s very tricky. Their game plan appears to be to hit to the opposite field, which means a lot of work for Sanchez, the second baseman.
Freddy ends the first inning with a double play; the second with a “snowcone catch” of Jeff Francoeur’s blistering line drive. He ends the fourth by tagging out Josh Hamilton, who tries to steal, and in the sixth, turns another magnificent (though controversial) double play.
Not a bad game plan, but the Rangers don’t execute consistently. When they do, Freddy Sanchez is there.
The Rangers’ fourth starter, Tommy Hunter, throws mainly fastballs and curveballs, with an occasional cutter and slider. His record is hard to figure, though he got beaten up pretty badly by the Yankees in the ALCS.
Clearly the Giants think that control will be an issue again for Mr. Hunter. They wait, they foul off pitches, they attack. Example? The lead-off hitter, Andres Torres. He takes two strikes, he takes two balls, fouls off a pitch, then beats out an infield hit. The Giants don’t score, but they make Hunter throw 21 pitches first, and more in the second.
This is the way a good team attacks a pitcher. The idea doesn’t surprise me; the stone cold execution does. And it’s always a good sign when Torres opens with a hit.
Had the Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers) signed Fidel Castro, a lanky pitching prospect in the 1950s, things might have turned out differently for the world, not to mention the Giants, pioneers in poaching players from Cuba and the Caribbean basin.
Because it’s Halloween, Fidel has been able to sneak past customs in full uniform. Still a baseball aficionado, he came to San Francisco for Game One as Nancy Pelosi’s guest, but could not get past the bleachers.
That pot smoke Josh Hamilton got in his eyes — was that actually a waft from Fidel’s Cuban Cohiba?
No matter how good the pitching, a team has to score runs to win. But a team with good pitching doesn’t usually have to score that many.
The Giants continue to work over Hunter. The control issues they expected materialize. In the third, you see him tiring. He won’t last long at this rate.
Not when Andres Torres opens the inning with a freakish double that hits first base, caroming into right field. Or when Aubrey Huff, who grew up in Fort Worth, about 20 miles down one of the freeways, hits a towering home run to right field. 2-0 Giants.
One thing stood out about Madison Bumgarner as the Giants entered the World Series: He was the only one of the Giants’ starting pitchers who was not nurtured and raised by Texas catcher Bengie Molina. The Giants didn’t bring Bumgarner to San Francisco until Molina was gone.
Instead of pitching around Molina like his Giant comrade Jonathan Sanchez tried to do yesterday to his detriment, Bumgarner goes right at him. Bengie does nothing at the plate. If he’s got the secret intel on Bumgarner, he either hasn’t told anyone, or the intel turns out to be not so intelligent.
Nor are things going well for Bengie’s schemes to make Buster look bad.
Playoff time/time unhinged. Ghosts from the past and ghosts from the future come through the cracks. Bengie Molina, who was shipped out of San Francisco to make way for Buster Posey, is about to find out.
Eighth inning, Posey at the plate. He hasn’t hit much this series. Yesterday, he was at-bat with a chance to tie the game. Molina called the pitch (actually had to argue with the pitcher), and Posey weakly grounded out. The situation is nowhere near as crucial as it was last night. In addition to Huff’s two-run home run, Torres doubled in the seventh to drive home Edgar Renteria.
Molina may have lost the Series, but it would be a consolation to keep Buster down. Even though he’s a rookie, Buster’s got something he wants to say, maybe to Bengie, maybe to anyone who will listen. He lets his bat say it for him and Bumgarner: The future is here, and the future is now.
Nine: A Giant Step for Giants
In the bottom of the eighth, Bumgarner faces Mitch Moreland with two outs. Moreland, who hit the game winner yesterday, works Bumgarner to a full count. Is a two-out rally waiting to happen? No. Bumgarner strikes him out.
Manager Bruce Bochy puts in Brian Wilson to pitch the ninth. Realizing he’s stepped in Bumgarner’s spotlight, Wilson graciously dispenses with the histrionics and puts down the top of the Texas batting order in record time to close the game.
Bumgarner and Wilson may have been too efficient. They didn’t give the Bushes a chance to experience some real torture. Maybe tomorrow.
In a game that can clinch the the first World Series for San Francisco. Tim — Timmy, Freak, Franchise, Hipster, Big-Time Timmy Jim — Lincecum takes the mound for the Giants.