An Orange And Black Night

October 31

A running commentary on Halloween …

Still trying to expunge the images of last night’s Halloween dance at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum. Some guy dressed as “Super Sperm” ( he must have been looking for an egg — and you know he’ll keep looking ’til he finds one ), a middle-aged guy with a boiler dressed as a Roman Centurion, and the most popular people of the evening, Mr. and Mrs. Jack in the Box.

There were even a few guys dressed as San Francisco Giants, although I didn’t see any beards. Nobody dressed up as The Machine, thankfully.

My wife and I went as 50’s characters, a Pink Lady and her bowling-alley boyfriend. I forgot to bring the fake cigarettes. Someplace, there is a factory that makes fake cigarettes. Who does that?

Adults have hijacked Halloween, and for the most part have turned it into the most lame day of the year. Just another excuse to get drunk and act stupid. Last night was fun, though — it did appeal to my sense of the absurd.

***

Sunday morning on the 49er pregame show I talked about the importance of Troy Smith’s mobility with the 49ers’ spotty offensive line and how it had to be the Frank Gore show against the Broncos’ banged-up defensive line — both proved to be big factors. Smith tossed up an ill-advised jump ball that was luckily caught. but generally played a pretty clean game and produced when he needed to. He’s not the savior and might not be around next year, but the Alex Smith Era may be over.

The 49ers almost backed their way into a loss. They played scared with a 24-16 lead instead of at least rolling out Troy Smith on third down and trying for a game-ending first down — instead they rammed it into the line, and had to turn the ball over. Their defense went into “prevent” mode again and Kyle Orton nearly forced overtime, but for a late pick. He also had a careless turnover on a scramble. Lucky for the 49ers.

One game a year in London is great. It’s a real event and the fans are very enthusiastic. Also, you can never go wrong with Jeff Beck playing “God Save The Queen.” Awesome. I’m not sure about putting an NFL franchise there — the league had better allow wagers at the British betting parlors or it won’t fly.

***

Now to the main event … Game Four.

That kid who dressed up as Ron Washington was really scary. And Lyle Lovett once had Julia Roberts ? Whatever you think of 43 and 41 ( Bush the Elder and W ), W always delivers a good first pitch. I’m envious.

Giants are starting two guys who hardly ever start — Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz. And a 21 year old pitcher. This is not a great lineup, but Bruce Bochy had to make some moves. Pat Burrell is showing uncharacteristically-poor strike zone judgement, while Pablo Sandoval is reverting to his old, characteristically-poor strike zone.

A MUCH tighter strike zone. Bumgarner a four-pitch walk to Andrus, but he does a nice job of holding Andrus and he gets out of the inning on a two-ball by Hamilton. The ball was smoked, nice glove by Sanchez, but this is what Bumgarner does — put the ball in play.

Tommy Hunter also feels like he’s getting squeezed. He’s also throwing a lot of pitches. Giants definitely want to get to that bullpen early if they can. Edgar Renteria with a terrific at-bat singles to right as Ross goes to third, but Nate Schiertholtz’s dunker doesn’t quite fall — terrific diving catch by Hamilton.

Hunter has thrown 44 pitches in two innings. Mike Winters’ strike zone is an amoeba. Even Barbara Bush, who is keeping score, has to question what’s going on.

Andres Torres doubles to start the third and Freddy Sanchez battles Hunter before grounding out in the 3rd. Sanchez softened up Hunter for DH Aubrey Huff, who hits a tape-measure shot to right. Huff, who lived in a trailer park near the old Arlington Ballpark as a youth, puts the Giants up 2-0.

Bumgarner repsonds with a shutdown inning, blowing away last night’s hero, Mitch Moreland, and getting Bengie Molina and Elvis Andrus to ground out weakly to short. I questioned the lineup but never had a problem with Bumgarner starting.

He definitely owes a snow cone to Freddy Sanchez, who not only made a snow cone catch of a line drive but turned a hot smash by Josh Hamilton into a double play. But Bumgarner has made Vladimir Guerrero look bad twice. As for Posey, his bat is not there, but his arm is — he just gunned down Michael Young. Not sure about Ron Washington’s call there — sending Young with your tying run, Nelson Cruz at the plate.

That’ll do it for Hunter. Just as we suspected, the Giants made him work and got into the bullpen. Ogando is pretty good and Feliz can blow people away but I’ll take my chances with the rest.

As I watch and listen, three kids have come to my door so far. And Congressman Gerry McNerney. At least he wasn’t Kim Kardashian. And, yes, if she came to my door, I would give her candy.

Bottom of the 6th. Bumgarner has, up to this point, done a pretty good job of taking the speed out of the Rangers’ swings. He’s not afraid to let them hit what he has to offer — the way the Giants’ defense is playing you can’t blame him. And the defense is sharper because Bumgarner throws strikes.

Bumgarner is pitching with conviction, unlike his lefty counterpart Jonathan Sanchez the night before. Sanchez has thrown his last pitch of the season. Game 7 could be a witches’ brew — but as in the NLCS, Bruce Bochy is going to do everything he can to avoid a Game 7.

Top of the 7th, and a HUGE add-on run for the Giants. Edgar Renteria, who is channeling the 2003 Renteria, singles and Andres Torres doubles him home. A ball that came within inches of bouncing over the fence for a ground-rule double but stayed in play. Baseball Gods.

Bottom of the 7th, after an extended ( and probably intentional ) break for “God Bless America,” things get janky. A one-out error on an easy grounder to Juan Uribe. Bumgarner is not rattled — he strikes out Vladimir Guerrero on another changeup, gives up a single to Nelson Cruz, then gets Ian Kinsler to hit a broken-bat fly ball to left.

The kid is not afraid. He was not rattled by Uribe’s error. He does a great job of taking the energy out of his opponents’ swings but can get a strikeout when needed.

Buster Posey, who has had a series of bad swings the last couple of games, battles reliever Darren O’Day in the top of the 8th inning. He finally gets some backspin on one, flying to center field. Josh Hamilton is back … back … back … damn that ball carried. Ten feet over the center field fence, 4-0 Giants.

How about this battery ? 21-year-old Bumgarner and 23-year-old Posey. Just a couple of country kids who happen to be badasses.

Phew. A couple of close ones in the 8th. Francouer puts Cody Ross against the scoreboard but the ball simply does not carry as well to left field. Francouer was pissed. Can’t say I blame him.

Bumgarner is done after eight tremendous innings. The Beard is in. Andrus leads off with a sharply hit fly out to right field. Weak half-swing by Michael Young for the second out. The imposing Josh Hamilton ends it with a half-swing punchout. No messing around this time for Brian Wilson.

It’s only the second shutout of the Rangers at home this season, but the second time they’ve been shut out in this World Series. Bumgarner, at 21 years and 91 days, is the fourth youngest pitcher all-time to win a World Series game. Let The Legend Begin.

The Giants can win their first World Series in 56 years Monday night with Tim Lincecum on the mound against Cliff Lee in Game 5. Against the lefty the Giants may go back to their Game 1 lineup. Don’t expect the same results as Game 1.

Now I’m gonna see if I can sell the rest of this candy on Ebay.

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