Down 2-0 to the World Series favorite Chicago Cubs in a best-of-five series, San Francisco is on the verge of missing out on the World Series in the first even year since the club missed the playoffs in 2008. No matter how many Journey songs I listen to I can’t help but feel the Giants’ season is all but over. Not even “Don’t Stop Believing” can give me enough hope that somehow the Giants will win three straight to topple the Cubs.
So far the Giants mustered just three runs in two games against Chicago in this series. Quite frankly, that’s not going to be enough. We know San Francisco’s success over the last six years was never predicated on a prolific offense, but with a shaky bullpen and a lack of depth in the rotation the Giants can longer rely on dominant pitching night in and night out.
One glimmer of hope for the Orange and Black: Madison Bumgarner takes the mound in Game 3 at 9:30PM EST Monday night. After ending the regular season with some less than admirable outings, Bumgarner rebounded by roasting the New York Mets in the Wild Card playoff game. He tossed a complete game shutout while surrendering just four hits, two walks, and striking out six. Need more? The Giants’ ace boasts eight playoffs wins (four in the World Series), one save, an enviable 1.94 ERA, and a sexy 0.86 WHIP. He craves the biggest moments and almost always comes up big.
Unfortunately for the meager San Francisco lineup, runs will be hard to come by Monday night. Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta toes the rubber in hopes of advancing the Cubs to the NLCS.
The 30-year old stud is 18-8 on the season, but was ambushed by the Pirates in his last start on September 28th. Arrieta lasted just five innings that night while allowing 10 hits, two walks, and seven earned runs. Earlier in the month he was out-dueled by Bumgarner and the Giants on September 3rd. Both aces went six innings, but the Giants bullpen held onto a 3-2 lead to secure the victory. Maybe Arrieta’s 12 days of rest spells danger for the Giants. Or maybe, just maybe, Arrieta’s rough last outing, his previous loss in this matchup, and Bumgarner on the mound is exactly the elixir the Giants need to keep the Magic alive.
If any team can come back from two games down it’s the Giants. In 2012 San Francisco overcame an identical deficit to defeat the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS. In the following NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants rallied to a series victory again after falling to a 3-1 disadvantage. What happened in 2012? The Giants won the World Series. So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com