The San Francisco Giants travel across the country to face the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one-game showdown at PNC Park, Wednesday evening, and they have their B’s and P’s all lined up for battle. It’s all they’re going to need so I’ll begin with the battling B’s.
I use the adjective “battling” because that is what the Giants do so well. All teams deal with adversity but not all teams do so successfully. The Giants have lost two-thirds of their starting outfield to injuries and two-fifths of their starting rotation to either injury or ineffectiveness. Therefore, they have had to battle the elements first, before they could confront the opposition.
Led by Double-B himself, Bruce Bochy, the Giants know that their skipper has seen it all before, and that he is never going to get riled unnecessarily. Bochy’s flair for playing the right hunch at a critical juncture in the game is well-established and his players have absolute confidence in him. This allows Bochy to make moves without having to worry about bruising fragile egos.
On the field Madison Bumgarner leads the attack by virtue of his 11-4 road record this season with a 2.22 (!) ERA while in opposing parks. This guy pitched in seven post-season games before he was even 24 years old. Though he presents a calm exterior, you only have to go back to a week ago today, to conjure up the image of Bumgarner squaring off against Yasiel Puig-again-and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Beneath that placid exterior smolders a volcano and every one of his teammates is well aware of this source of energy.
The Giants sent their road warrior, Madison Bumgarner, to the mound against the Pirates.Photo by Denise Walos
Anther double-B is Brandon Belt, recently returned from his third stint on the disabled list and heating up just in time. In his final six games of the regular season, he had three multi-hit games with a splash home run tossed in for good measure. Belt gained experience in the 2012 playoffs that will help him sustain his concentration and his contributions, both offensively and on the field, during the upcoming wild card showdown.
Brandon Crawford represents the epitome of the battling B’s. Despite struggling during the middle of the season, both at the plate and on the field, he has persevered. His seventeen RBI’s in September brought his season total to 69, which for an allegedly light-hitting shortstop is pretty amazing. And yes he had 21 errors over the course of the season, but that is a result of having 634 total chances. Anyone who watches the Giants regularly, knows that Crawford is a magician with his glove and saves far more runs from being scored than those 21 errors might indicate.
Finally, there is Gregor Blanco in the outfield. Blanco has had a strong second half of the season as a result of the ongoing injury issues with Angel Pagan. Since the All-Star game, he batted .296, with four home runs, three triples, twelve doubles and 22 RBI’s. He had 58 hits in 64 games.
Sep 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco (7) hits a RBI single to tie the game in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Blanco has also established some stellar credentials from his experience in the 2012 World Series. His relay to Marco Scutaro helped gun down Prince Fielder at the plate in his most brilliant moment. Blanco hit the triple that scored Hunter Pence in the third game of the Series, and then scored on a single by Crawford, to account for all of the offense in that game. Blanco also made a series of sterling catches in left field to rob Tigers of base hits.
On to the plucky P’s. Amongst the adjectives listed in my thesaurus for “plucky” were brave, courageous, bold, daring, fearless, spirited, determined, unflinching and unafraid. Those are the attributes that I want in my team. Pulverizing does not fit nor does bashing for the B’s. That’s not what the Giants generally do, though they can, as Pablo Sandoval (The Panda) demonstrated in the opener of the 2012 World Series.
So I will start with The Panda. You will recognize him from his smile and his animated antics in the dugout. On the field you will know it is he from the way he throws himself at batted balls, scrambling to his feet to rifle off a throw, with incredible agility for a big man.
One has only to think back to Detroit to know that The Panda can impact the outcome of not only one game but of an entire world series.
His bat has not sizzled at the end of the season, but again, one only has to think back to that game in Detroit to know that Sandoval can impact not only a game but a world series with his bat.
I move on to Preacher Pence, the Giants’ right fielder extraordinaire, who leads the team on the field with his hustling attitude, and in the dugout with his emotional and passionate speeches, which rile up not only the Giants, but their fans as well. One of several leaders on the team, he provides the beaker in which the team chemistry churns and burns. It never stops because Hunter Pence never stops. Never.
Joe Panik follows Pence, as he did in the lineup at the beginning of his career, when Pence filled in for Pagan in the leadoff spot. Ultimately, though, Panik is Marco Scutaro’s replacement, and he did not arrive until June. Panik’s ability to make the panic over second base disappear, has been a key in the Giants’ push to overcome those pitfalls that eliminated them from post-season play in 2013.
Aug 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants infielder Joe Panik (12) dives into third base after hitting a triple against the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth inning at AT&T Park. The Giants defeated the Phillies 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
I left Buster Posey for last because he is the link between the B’s and the P’s, the single component that causes the reaction to occur that makes the whole enchilada muy caliente! Buster belongs with the B’s and Posey belongs to the P’s and it is as simple as that. Kaboom, as they say in the chemistry lab.
What Buster Posey did in both World Series is keep all of that data on opposing hitters in his head, so that he could guide his staff through the treacherous waters of two very offensive-minded American League Powerhouses, in the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers.
You can not obtain this kind of commodity over the winter via trade. Buster Posey is the heart and soul of the Giants and the chemical conductor as well. If there is to be a repeat storybook ending to the 2014 season for the Giants and their fans, it will come as a result of Buster Posey leading his band of B’s and P’s.
Sep 25, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) celebrates with team mates after clinching the National League wild card at AT&T Park. The San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports