Tonight’s Game: Giants Cubs (103-58) Vs Giants (87-75) at Willie Mays Field, 6:30 pm
Jake Arrieta Vs Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 0.00)

The Starting Lineups

1. Fowler CF
2. Bryant 3B
3. Rizzo 1B
4. Soler LF
5. Zobrist RF
6. Russell SS
7. Baez 2B
8. Montero C
9. Arrieta P

1. Span CF
2. Belt 1B
3. Posey C
4. Pence RF
5. Pagan LF
6. Crawford SS
7. Panik 2B
8. Gillaspie 3B
9. Bumgarner P

The NLDS between the Cubs and Giants will turn on this game, the first to be played in San Francisco. Either the Giants will get back in the series and gain some momentum or the Cubs will sweep and dash our hopes. The familiarity of playing an elimination game should give the Giants an edge.

There is also the matter of a guy named Madison Bumgarner pitching tonight. Having the greatest postseason pitcher of all time start for your team should be cause for optimism. The skeptic in me wonders how long the Giants can get away with counting on the same guy to save their season. Even immortals like MadBum must risk the world-weariness of postseason baseball pressure-fatigue.

MadBum as Cultural Meme

I’m waiting for “MadBum” to be a new meme, a pop cultural coinage that transcends baseball and sports.

Some examples: “You are so MadBum baby.” (guy/girl/trans to his/her/herhis boyfriend/girlfriend/transfriend… or, “Get your MadBum on.” (business manager to his star employee), “Don’t get MadBummed and drive.” (parents to their sports-playing children) and “MadBum me”… many possibilities with that last one…

After Saturday night’s standard form of post-loss depression and pre-elimination game anxiety, I am looking forward to tonight’s game with quiet hope and desperation. The Giants have been playing uphill, upstream, against the wind against the Cubs all season. Whatever metaphor you want to use, the Giants cannot solve Cubs pitching and it’s only great performances by San Fransisco starting pitchers that have kept the games close.

A win tonight not only gives the Giants new life. It may also begin the doubting for the Cubs. What matters most of all is believing you can win. It sounds elemental because it is. Of course, getting to that point is the hard part. True confidence, true belief cannot be faked. Jim Bowden said it perfectly: “Baseball is a game of confidence. Every day that confidence is either re-affirmed or tested.”

For the Giants, the confidence of champions and the belief that they can turn the series around tonight begins with Madison Bumgarner.

Beating the Best

Most Major League teams can beat up on mediocre and bad pitching. In the postseason, it goes without saying that hitters generally face elite pitching throughout every game. The Giants excelled at beating the best in each of their championship seasons. In 2010 they defeated the seemingly un-hittable Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. In 2012 Pablo Sandoval and the Giants man-handled Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. In 2014 it was the impeccable bullpen of the Royals and the epic starting staff of the Nationals that fell prey to Bochy-ball. This year that magic has yet to materialize.

Solving the Riddle of the Cubs Pitching

Right now it appears the Cubs own the Giants hitters. Gone are those pesky at-bats fouling off tough pitches, working walks and coming up with the well-timed double or homer. That magical Giants recipe has been stolen by the Cubs who have been using it against us this series. It’s time to take it back. The Giants have been downright atrocious at the plate in all but one of the nine games the teams have played going back to the Cubs’ visit in San Francisco earlier this year. Either the Cubs pitching is that good or the Giants are not matching up well, not seeing the ball well or are just going through a bad streak. Whatever the case, fortunes will have to change tonight or we spend five months going through hot stove league talk and dissecting what went wrong…

I much prefer seasons that end with parades.

Some Questions

1. Who will score that crucial first run and take control of the game?
2. Will Madison Bumgarner continue his postseason magic and save the Giants yet again?
3. How will the Giants attack Jake Arrieta? By working counts or being aggressive early on?
4. When will Hunter Pence emerge from his funk and bludgeon a baseball?
5. Will the home crowd provide the Giants with positive energy to get their confidence going?