Marquis de Sade ? Feh !

October 10, 2010

On 10-10-10 the numerologists were probably having a field day. You knew strange things were going to happen, but as far as torture, this one went to 11.

The Giants have taken the word “Torture” and made it their own. Soon, there will be a picture of the 2010 Giants next to the word in Webster’s Dictionary. Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS goes down as a sadistic classic.

Dick Stockton on TBS makes cogent observations about as often as I dunk, but he was right in saying Game 3 had a bit of the first two games. The starting pitchers ( Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Hudson ) were brilliant, there was a stirring comeback — this time by both the Giants and the Braves — and there was redemption. For both Brian Wilson and Bruce Bochy.

Sadly for Brooks Conrad, there is no redemption. As we noted in our blog Thursday, the loss of Chipper Jones and Martin Prado hurt the Braves offensively and defensively because for one thing, they have to put Conrad and his”frying-pan hands” in the field. Actually, he didn’t even get a skillet on Buster Posey’s ground ball that went through the wicket and allowed Freddy Sanchez, the go-ahead run, to score with two outs in the 9th.

Bobby Cox might have to put Conrad in witness protection. Conrad was clearly the Giants’ MVP, dropping a pop fly to allow the game’s first run and then the shot through the 5-hole in the 9th.

And while I’m quoting myself, did I mention Friday that the loss of Billy Wagner could be a big blow to the Braves ? Why yes, I beleve I did. Craig Kimbrel, Mike Dunn and Peter Moylan couldn’t get the job done, although Moylan did induce Posey to hit a grounder to second. Dunn gave up the clutch, game-tying single to Aubrey Huff, a playoff newbie who delivered the biggest hit of his career to tie the game at 2-2 in the 9th.

Wilson gained his redemption by getting through the heart of the Braves order with only a small amount of drama, the Brian McCann infield hit off Freddy Sanchez’s glove. He then induced Nate McLouth to ground out to Sanchez to end it ( ground balls are never coaxed, they are induced ). Bochy was spared an angry mob of Giants fans with torches outside AT and T Park.

Warning,: I’m going to quote my Friday blog again: “The stage might be too big for Pablo Sandoval and Sergio Romo.” Sandoval didn’t play Sunday but unfortunately, Romo did. Bochy made a huge mistake here: puttiong his least-confident pitcher in for the most important situation, 8th inning with the go-ahead run at the plate and one out. I would even support another Brian Wilson early appearance over Romo.

Knowing how Bochy works, he didn’t want his starting pitcher, Sanchez, to be in danger of getting the loss after such a fine effort, 7 1/3 shutout innings. Sanchez also has a history of fading after 100 pitches but aside from the Alex Gonzalez sharp single to right-center it didn’t look like he was losing it. In fact he was redeemed because Conrad, having one of the all-time worst games in playoff history, also failed advance Gonzalez when he popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt.

It really was a toss-up call, but Romo was definitely NOT the guy to summon in that situation. Santiago Casilla or Guillermo Mota were better moves. Bringing in a lefty was probably not an option because Hinske hit portsiders much better, although he was 0 for 4 against Javy Lopez. Mota is a veteran who would have known not to give Hinske anything to hit with a two-strike count, and Hinske was 0 for 1 vs. Casilla.

I have explained at length why I thought Bochy made the right move Friday, but he made the wrong move Sunday, and he was only bailed out by a great Giants rally. And, oh yeah — poor Brooks Conrad, who will not make anyone forget Brooks Robinson. I think Brooks Conrad would like to forget Brooks Conrad right now.

His donning of the goat horns was set up by some rare quality Giants at-bats and the lack of closer experience in the Braves’ bullpen. Travis Ishikawa had perhaps his finest at-bat as a Giant, drawing a one-out walk, and then with two outs Freddy Sanchez was bailed out by Kimbrel. Sanchez, who has appeared very jumpy at the plate in the postseason, was like Charlie Sheen at a Playboy Bunny convention: trying to hit everything he saw. But Kimbrel made a two-strike mistake and Sanchez spanked it up the middle ( yes ) to put runners at first and second.

Enter the lefty Dunn against the lefthanded-hitting Huff, who hit .296 against lefties during the regular season. The Giants’ #3 hitter had looked out of sorts for the first three games, but he reached out and lined a Dunn pitch to right field, scoring Ishikawa to tie the game. Then Posey, the Georgia kid who couldn’t come through Friday night, employed a flawless strategy: hit it to Conrad, for whom the playoff stage is obviously vast.

Romo did one thing right in the 8th inning: he got the last two outs. For that — the most delicious irony of all — he gets credit for the win.

So the Giants are assured of playing another game in San Francisco, either Game 5 or the NLCS. Before Game 1, Marty Lurie asked me if I had a prediction for the series, and I said no. I had absolutely no idea whot was going to happen. Or how much torture it was going to be. The Marquis de Sade is rolling over in his leather, chain, and whip-adorned grave.

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