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San Francisco Giants face heavy odds; sounds about right

By Mark ONeill
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There are at least five solid reasons why the San Francisco Giants should lose Game 2, Saturday, in Washington DC, so therefore, they are in pretty good shape for the shape they’re in.

Reason number one: The Nationals must win this game; if they go back to San Francisco, down two games to zilch, they will never play ball in Nationals Park again this season. They know it; the Giants know it and the fans know it. Looks like we’re all in agreement here. As Bryce Harper put it, “We have to win that game tomorrow. If we go down 0-2, I don’t even want to think about it.”

Reason number two: Jordan Zimmermann will start for the Nationals, having just punctuated his 14-5, 2.66 ERA season with a no-hitter on the last day of the season. Impeccable timing, I must say. He limited the Giants to two runs in August, when the Giants lost two of three in their own yard, and he has the future of the Nationals’ postseason hopes in his hands.

Reason number three: Michael Morse, arguably the most effective weapon against the Nationals, was left off the NLDS roster, and that will help the Nationals considerably. Morse is an integral component to the chemistry beaker, and his loss has got to hurt San Francisco.

Reason number four: The Nationals are managed by one of the brightest, most innovative managers in the bigs. Matt Williams is the ultimate nice guy, who has a genuine affection and respect for the Giants and their management. He has done an outstanding job guiding his team to the best record in the national league.

Reason number five: The Big Bopper. Bryce Harper not only galvanized the crowd into delirium, he did the same for the Fox 1 Sports announcers, who were positively giddy with joy. Yes, there is a lot of pizzazz in a third-deck shot.

Here are the reasons why I think the Giants are in good shape.

Reason number one: Yes, it’s all about the pressure.

It’s all about the pressure. End of discussion.

The Nationals must win the game; the Giants have the luxury of playing relaxed, knowing that they have ripped the home-field advantage out of the chest of their opponent.

Reason number two: Yes, Jordan Zimmermann has had great success against the Giants, all in the regular season. It’s a different matter in the postseason. The only other pitcher to end the regular season with a no-hitter, and then advance to the postseason, was Allie Reynolds. He pitched the regular season finale for the New York Yankees, and then pitched the first game of the 1951 World Series, going six innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits.

Zimmermann’s postseason experience as a starter is limited to his one start against the Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS. He gave up five earned runs in three innings. It’s all about the big stage. Maybe he could check in with Clayton Kershaw, and the two can compare notes.

Reason number three: Yes, Michael Morse is not on the field, just as Angel Pagan is not on the field. But he is there in the dugout, and every one of his teammates knows that he would be on the field if he could help his team. The beaker remains undisturbed because he is right there in the dugout.

Bruce Bochy contemplates the universe.

Reason number four: Yes, I agree, Williams wears a white hat and he will be a great manager. However, Bruce Bochy has led his team to nine straight postseason wins, and sports a 14-4 road record in the postseason. Bochy knows which guys to insert into which situations, and his players trust him. Williams is the apprentice; Bochy is the master.

Yes, Bryce Harper created one heck of a stir, Friday, with his tremendous blast, but in the end it was not enough. He may hit another one today; we’ll find out soon enough. But the Giants rely on contact hitting and they are as pesky as those mosquitos, that sound more like helicopters than insects. They hit eight singles off of Stephen Strasburg in Friday’s game, and it worked out just fine in the end.

So, as I wrote the other day, the Giants are clearly the underdogs in this series and that is just where they want to be. Look for the Giants to give the Nationals a competitive battle in this pivotal game in Washington DC.

Tim Hudson goes for the Giants Saturday in DC. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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