You know all of those annoying games where thew opposition makes the key play at the right time, and the Giants go down to a sickening defeat? Those plays were evident again in Game One of the big Showdown in San Diego.
This time the Giants made them.
San Francisco hitters muscled up for four home runs (each more impressive than the one before it), Matt Cain dealt for eight plus, the defense was generally tighter than Joan Rivers' face (Jose Guillen playing kickball not withstanding), and the front-running Padres went down to a 7-3 defeat that left the Giants just a game back in both the divisional and wildcard races.
Game One was a contest the Giants absolutely had to have, and for once they played like it.
Ther are a lot of guys who contrinbuted to the win. Andres Torres jump started the offense with a first-inning triple, Aubrey Huff had three hits including a two-run jack, Juan Uribe took out someone's sand castle with a solo blast, Buster Posey torched one into the second deck and Pat Burrell launched a shot toward the warehouse that is due to land any moment now. But despite the unusual display of firepower, I thought the game had other heroes.
Matt Cain and Freddy Sanchez.
Cain was The Man. A couple of long balls, including a two-run shot in the ninth, made the game look closer than it was. After a shaky start in which he was bailed out by Sanchez's glove, Cain was in total command of the game. He tired in the ninth, but by that time no one could argue that he hadn't done his job (bite me, Armando).
Sanchez didn't do much. He drove in the first run, singled ahead of Huff's long ball, added a third hit just for show, and made a pair of sparkling defensive plays -- both robbing (Yo!) Adrian Gonzales. Not a bad days work.
So the questions begs, is it for real? Yep, I'm always a downer when it comes to the Giants because they always break my heart. Last night was a big lift. A win in a must-win game is a rarity for this organization (I think the last one was in 2002 in Atlanta), and on this night they had it all going. Next?
This will be a real downer if they roll over and bark the rest of the way. They're' within a game. If they leave San Diego down four, then Game One was nothing more than a condemned prisoner waiting for that clemency call from the governor and hearing the phone ring -- only to find it was a wrong number.
The Giants have to approach the series as if Game One never happened. It's a three-gamer and they must win two. Pull that off and it becomes a two-gamer they have to split. They can't let up. There's no room for error.
Playoffs? As far as the Giants are concerned, the playoffs have already begun.
EXTRA: From the "I told you so" department, this little nugget from the St. Louis Post Dispatch in an article about the Cardinals' moves to find offense since the trade of Ryan Ludwick.
"The Cardinals subsequently attempted to acquire an impact hitter but settled on Houston Astros third baseman Pedro Feliz, a defensive upgrade who does not fit the profile of a No. 5 bat."
Doesn't fit the profile? Don't tell that to Brian Sabean. How long did it take him to figure that out? They wasted years on this clown and are STILL looking for a middle-of-the-order bat. Now Pedro is just a punch line, which is about the only "punch" he ever had. Too bad we've now got four more just like him.