NLDS Game Three Review: San Francisco

Another Giants-Braves matchup, another one-run game. Unlike Friday’s splash hit special though, the drama ultimately went in San Francisco’s direction this time.

Through the seventh inning, I expected I’d mostly be writing about Jonathan Sanchez‘s terrific performance. Sanchez’s first seven innings were reminiscent of Tim Lincecum‘s outstanding series opener: he was a little shaky with his command in the first inning, but then settled into a groove and dominated. After a first inning walk to Derek Lee, he didn’t allow a hard-hit ball until Matt Diaz‘s flyout to right in the fifth, and didn’t allow a hit until Tim Hudson‘s soft line drive single in the sixth. Along the way, Sanchez struck out 11 and had retired 14 consecutive batters at one point.

Meanwhile, back on offense, the Giants couldn’t manage much more than an assortment of walks and groundballs against Hudson. The lone run they provided in support of Sanchez came courtesy of two shadow-assisted dropped flyballs; one by the soon-to-be infamous Brooks Conrad, whom we’ll get to in a moment.

Then came the second thing I thought I’d be writing about, the Braves comeback in the bottom of the eight. With a runner on and 105 pitches on his arm, Bruce Bochy pulled Sanchez for Sergio Romo. Here are my notes from the inning:

bot 8
2nd hit for ATL, sharp liner by Gonzales
Conrad with a chance to be a hero flubs a bunt
Glaus hitting for Ankiel
Romo in for Jonathan; gutsy move by Boch
Hinske in for Glaus
Hinske HR
Braves lead 2-1

I heard someone on the radio this morning quote Bochy as saying he was going to play the matchups from the sixth inning onward today, and in this case it obviously backfired as Bobby Cox had an extra bat. I usually try not to second guess managers, but for me it was a questionable call at the time, as the Braves hadn’t done anything with Sanchez and Romo had a rough outing on Friday.

Bochy stuck with his guys in the ninth inning, and didn’t use a pinch hitter other than Travis Ishikawa in the pitcher’s spot, while Cox worked his way through three pitchers. The Giants managed to keep runners on base long enough for Buster Posey to find Conrad with a hard groundball. In what seemed like an act of destiny, Conrad let the ball sail through the five-hole, giving Freddy Sanchez plenty of time to score the eventual winning run from second.

Which brings us to the third thing I thought I’d be writing about: Conrad’s defense. I was fully prepared to stick up for Conrad a bit here, particularly over the dropped flyball, but that last error was really inexcusable for a major league player in the post-season. The ball was hit right to him and the game was on the line; if he had even kept the ball in the infield it would have likely been a different game.

All in all though, it was the the third great game of the series.




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Patrick Newman is a veteran enthusiast of Japanese baseball who happens to write about it at npbtracker.com, and on Twitter @npbtracker.

27 Responses to “NLDS Game Three Review: San Francisco”

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  1. bsally says:

    Neyer has a nice piece on ESPN that I agree with wholeheartedly. Cox totally dropped the ball by leaving Hernandez on his bench. Conrad shouldn’t have been out there at all. Also, I cannot for the life of me understand why Kimbrel was pulled; Huff hits LHP better. And also also, why on earth did McCann call for a slider against Sanchez? He hadn’t come close to putting Kimbrel’s FB in play.

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    • Evan Kirkwood says:

      “Huff hits LHP better.”

      Huff 2010/career vs. LHP: .383/.338 wOBA
      Huff 2010/career vs. RHP: .386/.367 wOBA

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    • bsally says:

      Also, not to come across as a bad loser or anything but Paul Emmel has to be the worst umpire I’ve ever seen. The last Heyward AB was especially galling since Emmel had called the exact same pitch that Heyward struck out on a ball just 4 pitches before. Not saying it affected the outcome at that point, but the lack of consistency in the strikezone of a single umpire, let alone between different umpires, is just getting ridiculous.

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      • dregarx says:

        If you check out the strike zone plot (and I remember these pitches occurring mostly during the last couple of half innings) the Braves had 4 strike calls go their way off the outside corner of the plate, and the Giants had 4 strike calls to aid themselves as well.

        So while there was a little inconsistency in that the zone expanded near the end at the outside edge, it was, in essence, fair.

        Yes, the Heyward call was the most egregious, as it was low as well as outside, but Torres was called out on a pitch off the corner in the top of the inning as well.

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  2. TexasRanger says:

    What an unbelievable game. If the giants win, Brooks Conrad for NLCS MVP?

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  3. NickC says:

    At what point does it stop being outstanding Giants hitting and starts becoming awful Braves hitting?

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    • Matt says:

      You mean Giants pitching? Giants hitting has been pretty awful, too.

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      • I wouldn’t call the Giants hitting outstanding, though they’ve put the ball in play more than the Braves. If Jason Heyward wasn’t in such a slump the Braves’ lineup would look a lot better.

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      • NickC says:

        Yeah, that was a typo, I mean the Giants pitching. They are essentially pitching to a slumping Heyward, Lee, McCann, 5 replacement level players and the pitcher.

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      • jponrye says:

        How about at the point where the Giants led the National League in ERA this season? Unless you think they did that because of ‘bad Braves hitting’ all season long… The Giants pitching being awesome is hardly something new.

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      • NickC says:

        There’s leading the league and there’s having your starters throw 23 innings, allow 11 hits, 1 run and get 31 Ks.

        The majority of the Braves lineup OBP around .300. They aren’t good, and this has to be taken into consideration when working out how good the Giants’ pitching has been. The Braves have swung at a ridiculous number of pitches in the dirt.

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      • jponrye says:

        I understand you’re frustrated, but I am really getting sick of people downplaying the Giants pitching staff. I’m not denying that the Braves lineup isn’t very good at the moment. Whatever. The Giants as a team put up a 1.91 ERA for the whole month of September, with 259 Ks in 259.1 IP. But I guess they were just facing the Braves lineup that whole month as well… you can be frustrated, but the Giants pitching success so far this series is not some mirage that’s entirely a function of the lineup they’re facing.

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  4. Scott says:

    I’m not sure I would call Fontenot’s triple to the wall a “shadow-assisted dropped flyball”. That would have been a great play by Heyward if he caught it. Other than that, fantastic game and good write-up.

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    • Yeah, I was on the fence about using that wording, but Heyward clearly struggled to get a bead on it, and I’m sure he would have made a better play had the sun not been a factor. Maybe he holds Fontenot to a double, for example.

      By the same token, I thought Conrad’s dropped flyball was less of an error than the other two he made. It looked deep enough for Heyward to field it, but maybe he didn’t pick it up. It looked like a tough play for the second baseman to make.

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      • NickC says:

        The Heyward play looked like it had an impact on the second error. He was still probably a bit groggy from banging into the wall and slow to react to the pop up, however it looked to me like Conrad called him off it (and given that Conrad called Lee off a pop up in the ninth, it wouldn’t surprise me).

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  5. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Jonathan Sanchez is rapidly moving into the class of elite pitchers. Gotta believe there is another no-hitter or two in that arm.

    If the Giants need an 8′th inning man tomorrow in a close game, it better be Casilla.

    Gotta feel a bit bad for poor Brooks Conrad, who must feel horrible.

    Did I hear Bob Brenly right when he said that Andres Torres swings a 37.5 oz bat? Man, that is one serious piece of lumber!

    I have a lot of confidence in MadBum tomorrow against Derek Lowe on 3 days rest, but as we have already seen, anything can and probably will happen.

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    • richard says:

      It’s really great for J Sanchez to finally get some national exposure… Hardly anyone outside of Giants fans know how spectacular he can be, and he’s starting to show that impressive stuff (and control) on a very regular basis…

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  6. "Hi, i'm Freaky" says:

    where would J. Sanchez be ranked as far as NL starting pitchers now – about 12-15th or so? i realize the Padres and Braves’ lineups aren’t too great but damn, Sanchez is starting to dominate(and in some big games)….

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      Pitching is up all around, so maybe Sanchez’ numbers aren’t as impressive in the context of this season, but he’s certainly has elite K/9′s and a ridiculous BAA. The one area he still needs to work on is keeping his walk rates and pitch counts down, but he’s finally making progress with that too.

      If MadBum keeps improving like he is, pretty soon the Giants rotation is going to have 4 #1′s and Barry Zito.

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      • "Hi, i'm Freaky" says:

        Hey Dr. B, i remember you from over on Mcc… :)

        agree that he looks like he may finally be able to get the pitch count and the walks down…am no expert here but i was always suspicious that his walks were the result of him nibbling and pitching around batters whenever he got into the slightest bit of trouble…with the new pitch he has that Krukow mentioned(changeup?), maybe he can go after the hitters…

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      • B N says:

        4 #1 + Barry Zito = Rotation average is equivalent to 5 #3 pitchers? ;)

        Just kidding, Zito has been much better this year.

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  7. "Hi, i'm Freaky" says:

    Brooks Conrad aka “Dr. Strangeglove”

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