San Francisco Giants’ five biggest obstacles to winning Game Six
By Mark ONeill
Why is it that the current World Series reminds fans of another Fall Classic, only one which did not turn out the way the San Francisco Giants, or their fans, envisioned? In playing the Angels, a dozen years ago in 2002, the Orange and Black followed an identical pattern as that of 2014, splitting the first two games, away, down in SoCal, coming back to AT&T Park to snare two of three, and then returning to Anaheim, to play the final game(s). The return trip, this time to Kansas City, is where Giants fans would like to see a different result.
What do the current Giants have to do, in order to keep history from repeating itself? With some media analysts actually maintaining that Kansas City has the advantage, even being down three games to two, simply because they are at home, it makes Giants’ fans nervous. What makes them the most nervous?
Jake Peavy, and the infamous sixth inning, for starters. Peavy has started eight postseason games in his career, without ever completing six innings. The sixth inning, in case you are not following this, is the one frame which has proven to be the Achilles hell, excuse the typo, for the Giants, in this World Series.
For the sixth inning to be the most problematic inning for veteran Peavy, and the Giants’ most difficult inning during the 2014 World Series, is too much of a coincidence for Bruce Bochy to simply ignore. The facts are right there for everyone to examine and analyze, including Dave Righetti and the entire Royals’ lineup, especially Billy Butler.
Aug 10, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) talks with pitching coach Dave Righetti (33) against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Butler is the next hurdle the Giants must leap, his lifetime stats against Jake Peavy, being the motivating factor here. Notice, it’s not just the batting average of .424 (14 for 33), or the three home runs, or the eight RBI’s… Wait, yes it is because of all these reasons. When it comes to ownage, Butler has title and the keys to the front door, in J.P.
Yordano Ventura is the next obstacle the Giants must hurdle; the last time the Giants faced him, in Game Two, they lost 7-1. It was ugly and the Giants managed only one run, before the vaulted Royals bullpen took over. Ventura is the 23-year-old rookie who throws 100 MPH, but is at his deadliest when he gets his off-speed pitches working. Scary thought.
If all of the above were not enough, the Giants must overcome the Kansas City crowd, well aware of its ability to influence matters by turning up the volume. It’s hard to concentrate with 40,000 plus fans trying to play mosquito in your ear.
These are only some of the impediments San Francisco must overcome in order to prevail-in one game-in the World Series. Getting it done in Game Six must be the predominant attitude in the Giants’ organization, in order to not fuel the Royals’ comeback with hope. The Orange and Black accomplish this in the following manner:
The Giants have put their trust in Jake Peavy since he arrived in San Francisco, and he has not let them down. Without Peavy, there would have been no playoffs, no National League Pennant, and no World Series appearance. Give Peavy the ball, sit down and keep calm. Do you think you know more than Bruce Bochy?
Oct 12, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy heads back to the dugout in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game two of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
As for the sixth inning, the crux of the matter is whether the starter can make it through, without a reliable relief pitcher to bridge the gap to the seventh inning, when the big four (Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, and Sergio Romo) take over. With this being the potential last game of the season, all hands will be available to form that sixth-inning link, from Tim Lincecum to Ryan Vogelsong, and all points in between. Again, Bochy’s strongest asset is-and always has been-his ability to make use of his bullpen. Nothing has changed in that department.
Billy Butler is a formidable opponent; there can be no underestimating him. But this is where Buster Posey comes in, with all of his uncanny ability to examine opposing batters and their tendencies, and put down the correct finger, with the corresponding results. Buster Posey was not available in 2002.
Yordano Ventura pitched brilliantly in Game Two, as a worthy opponent is likely to do in the biggest show in baseball.
Yes, Ventura is tough; the Giants have a few tough guys themselves in Posey, Pence and the Panda.
That being acknowledged, San Francisco’s veteran, World Series-proven lineup, is up for the challenge. It’s not just Posey,Hunter Pence
, orPablo Sandoval
we are talking about, but recent proven commodities such asTravis Ishikawa
as well. Which one would fans not trust?
Finally, of course, the crowd is a factor, a huge part of the process. But like an orchestra, Giants’ players have learned how to conduct a crowd in the playoffs. Do something early to take the crowd out of it, either with the bats (score runs), with the pitcher (limit base runners), or both. Crowds can only control a game, if the home team gives them the power to do so.
It’s up to the Giants to play the crowd the way they did in Pittsburgh, with Brandon Crawford’s grand slam, or in any venue with Madison Bumgarner striking out batters, and keeping the rabbits off the bases.
The Royals are a talented team and have found a way to get it done in the playoffs, up until now.
But the Giants have the experience and this is where it counts the most. Crowd noise does not faze a team that has played in front of sold-out venues far more frequently than not; just do not give the crowd a reason to get noisy.
Do that by repeating a game like the one which ended the 2012 National League Championship Series, a blowout where San Francisco scores early and often, and Bruce Bochy keeps a quick hook handy, in case he needs to relieve Jake Peavy.
And then get the hell out of Dodge-Kansas City, I mean-and get back to San Francisco. There’s a parade with your name waiting for you, and a jubilant NorCal fan-base, waiting to celebrate your third World Championship in five years.