With Game One of the 2014 World Series in jeopardy for the Kansas City Royals, due to the San Francisco Giants having already put three runs on the board in the first inning, the Royals had to do something quickly.
When an error and a double put two runners on, in scoring position, and no one out in the bottom of the third inning, the Kansas crowd ratcheted up the volume another few notches, thinking that it could maneuver the San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, into making a mistake.
“That’s one of my favorite things to be able to do in baseball,” Bumgarner said, “is to work through a situation like that one.”
Bumgarner proceeded to strike out Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki, work around Lorenzo Cain, issuing him a walk, and eventually got out of the inning on a groundout to second base by Eric Hosner. Vintage MadBum.
The New York Times recap, written by David Waldstein, had a couple of Bumgarner quotes, that help shed light on why the Giants seem impervious to pressure.
Noise? The Giants don’t hear no stinkin’ noise.
No matter how overwhelming an opposing crowd can be, the Giants don’t seem to notice. As MadBum quipped, “If you’re worried about how loud the crowd is going to be, then you’re in the wrong place mentally and probably in the wrong business.”
He continued on, “But it makes it a lot easier the fact that every single game we play at home is like this or louder. It’s like that every day for us.”
Sep 6, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) in the dugout before the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Two days ago Alex Pavlovic quoted Pablo Sandoval, in “Pablo Sandoval heats up when the pressure’s on,” as saying, “Do I feel pressure? Pressure for what? This is my third one, man. I’m not going to feel pressure. I’m the kind of guy who loves to play with pressure. I try to show my teammates, ‘Hey, guys, we can do it in this situation. We can win every time.’” Sandoval is a .325 hitter in the postseason. His team has taken nine consecutive postseason series, including the 2014 wild card game. Does it seem as though the Panda feels pressure?
Last week Hunter Pence had observed that the Giants really did not start having fun until things on the playing field got crazy. Pavlovic quoted Pence as saying, “Sometimes my mind when I’m playing the game…is like an emptiness…I don’t know what’s going on around me…On the field it works out good.”
Not knowing what’s going on around you would include being unaffected by raucous crowds in opposing ball yards, or being down, three games to one, in a best-of-seven series, and being behind in the game. Pence just loves to have fun. Buster Posey feels the same.
“As a competitor, you look forward to these types of situations,” Posey said of the Wild Card game, prior to the start of the game in Pittsburgh. Posey’s role in both the 2010 and 2012 World Series, included not only his offensive prowess, but his ability behind the plate, to contain the American League hitters. All of that information, gathered by the scouting complex, is filtered down to the pitchers through Posey. He does an incomparable job, and is seeking his third World Series ring in five years.
What these four core Giants players share is an unbridled appreciation, for being in highly competitive situations, and because they have played together successfully, they know they can do it again.
This knowledge brings a confidence to the plate, with every batter, because he knows that if he can’t get the job done, the guy behind him will.
Chemistry creates reactions, and good chemistry creates great reactions.
May 31, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) is a huge reason why the Giants are in their third World Series in five years. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports