COHN: Cue the dirge for Giants' funeral
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 8, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Close the curtains to block out the harsh sun. Hang black sheets from the walls and buy the funeral meats for the guests who'll view the corpse. And choose the right music. Yes, choose a dirge. The Giants are dead.
Oh, they are not dead yet, even though the Reds beat them 9-0, taking the first two games of the Division Series, even though their postgame clubhouse was a morgue, the only sound someone silently cleaning cleats over a garbage can. Let's allow things to take their natural and inevitable course. The Giants are not quite dead. They are about to be dead.
They were given so many gifts — call them the gifts of life. Through a quirk of scheduling which will not exist next year, they were allowed to open the Division Series in their place, a baseball cathedral that now feels like a mausoleum. They were granted a chance to make a statement, win a game, preferably two, jump on the Cincinnati Reds before the three games in Cincinnati, if three games are required. But they lost both games at home, squandered them, and that means they will die in the next few days in Cincinnati of all places.
Play a mournful tune. Speak in whispers. Say a prayer for the dead.
And they received another gift — it was like a gift from God. Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto couldn't last two batters in Game 1. He hurt his back, and the Giants had their opportunity to ruin the Reds. They could not. They squandered that gift, too. And now that they've lost Game 2, a game they absolutely could not lose, and the end is near.
Play the violin. Dance a slow dance. Shed a silent tear.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy attached his hopes to pitcher Madison Bumgarner in Game 2. Bumgarner has been a good pitcher, not lately. Bochy said late-season rest helped him. On the radio, Mike Krukow said Bumgarner had a “sling” in his throwing motion but got rid of it. Krukow said Bumgarner was throwing well and corrected flaws in his mechanics and looked efficient.
This was early in the game before Bumgarner gave up four runs on seven hits, before he gave up a home run, before he looked like just another losing pitcher, before Bochy yanked him after just 4«.
Later, Bumgarner said he pitched well, said he had bad luck, batted balls finding holes. He was whistling past the graveyard.
The Giants will start Ryan Vogelsong on Tuesday in Cincinnati. Bumgarner is supposed to be better than Vogelsong, steadier, more in charge. Good grief.
The lone Giants' brightness belonged to Tim Lincecum, currently a relief pitcher. You would not call it full-on brightness, more of a twinkle. He entered the game in the sixth and the crowd, hungering for something good, hungering for 2010, stood and cheered, went nuts.
The demoted Lincecum threw two innings and gave up only one hit and he was dealing. And later Bochy said Lincecum might start Game 4. Bochy will announce the Game 4 starter later today in Cincinnati. But the Lincecum brightness in Game 2 doesn't matter. In the context of the Giants' impending demise, Lincecum is a mere sidebar.
Put on your dark suit, the one you reserve for wakes.
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo annihilated the Giants. “Annihilated” is an unusual word to use in the context of Arroyo because there is nothing annihilating about him. He never throws faster than 89 mph. He throws cream pies to the plate, but the pies dance and dip and cavort.
With Arroyo it's all mind over batter. He never walks off the mound. The catcher throws him the ball after a pitch and he stands on the rubber waiting for the batter to get ready. Or maybe this get-it-on attitude was directed exclusively at the non-hitting Giants. Arroyo was in a rush to throw the ball, salivated to throw the ball — the task at hand was so easy.
Facing him the Giants hit mostly ground balls. Where were their power hitters, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence? Where were they? The Giants were like a Little League team overmatched by a pitcher who doesn't try to overmatch. In seven innings, Arroyo gave up no runs on one hit and he walked one. That's how easy it was, how easy the Giants were and are.
Afterward, Bochy admitted, “We know where we're at right now. Our backs are to the wall.” He said his starting pitchers haven't given him quality starts. He craves quality starts. “You hope it happens the next three,” he said longingly.
Fans began leaving in the top of the eighth when Giants relievers, so good in the past, not so good now, gave up five runs and the Reds batted around, for heaven's sake.
As the Bee Gees sang “Staying Alive” — really? — fans trudged up the stadium steps and exited past Willie Mays in bronze and escaped into the quiet city streets. Some people just can't bear a funeral. You can't blame them.
God have mercy on the Giants' soul — at the appropriate time.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs. pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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