san francisco giants

Madison Bumgarner Looks Human and Somehow the Giants Still Win

The Giants are a pretty weird team, winning in pretty weird ways.

by Robert O'Connell
Oct 11 2016, 5:10pm

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

"We don't think we're going to win the World Series every even year," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Monday night's do-or-die Game 3 against the Chicago Cubs in San Francisco. "We're smarter than that, believe me. But we're going to do all we can to keep this thing going. It's been fun."

Early in the game, the Giant's biennial luck looked ready to run out in a decidedly un-fun way. Postseason constant Madison Bumgarner was shaky in a second inning that culminated in a three-run homer from opposing pitcher Jake Arrieta; the Chicago dugout went bonkers as Arrieta rounded the bases, the toughest hurdle—plating runs against a pitcher who entered the game with 23 consecutive scoreless postseason innings—having been cleared. But the Cubs failed to tack on any more runs over the next six innings, and the Giants scrounged where they could, getting one back on a Buster Posey single in the third and another on a Brandon Belt sacrifice fly in the fifth.

The Cubbies, in happier times.

By the time Wild Card-game hero Conor Gillaspie came to the plate in the eighth, with two on and one out against all-world closer Aroldis Chapman, the game had a familiar San Francisco feel. Gillaspie, a purportedly real-life person born in Omaha (yeah, right) and educated at Wichita State University (sure) and with previous MLB stints with the White Sox and Angels (doesn't ring any bells), seems like nothing so much as some unholy test-tube outcome of a few strands of hair from Cody Ross and Travis Ishikawa, and maybe a stray fiber from those Panda hats so popular in the Bay Area circa 2012. He doesn't wear batting gloves. He has a stance like your uncle's at a softball game. He tripled off of a triple-digit Chapman fastball to give the Giants a lead, and moments later he came around to score on a Brandon Crawford single.

The Cubs tied it up in the ninth, setting up the four extra innings to come, but any baseball astrologist could see the game's terms had already been set. The pair of 13th-inning doubles from Crawford and Panik that made up the deciding run were merely the other cosmic shoe dropping. The Cubs, with their skyscraper of a lineup and pretty defense and Cy Young candidates, win games that make sense. The Giants win the ones that don't.

Tuesday night's game features the dregs of each team's postseason rotations: John Lackey for Chicago and Matt Moore for San Francisco. It has a chance to get plenty kooky. And for another day, at least, the Giants continue to prefer such conditions. Moore might surrender three runs in the first and be saved by a grand slam from a player who didn't exist a week ago. Hunter Pence might find himself suddenly capable of teleportation. Bochy's heart rate might climb above 40 beats per minute. "If we're breathing, we're still fighting," Panik said moments after his game-winning double, trying to throw the supernaturally curious off the scent by crediting a plain old gritty makeup. It's our fourth go-round with this, though. We know better.