Obviously I’m joking about this, since I wasn’t alive in 1954. Still, it would be nice to enact a little revenge this weekend in San Francisco…
I’m very excited for this series, and not just because it’s a rematch of ’54. I have tickets to all three games and it’s my first trip to AT&T Park; in fact, it’s my first trip to San Francisco. The Rally Cows are with me, and it would be nice to see them work a little bit of magic this weekend (for the Indians, of course). I thought I’d take the opportunity to preview the series, as well as look back at the other times the Indians and Giants faced off – interleague series in 2005 and 2008, plus the 1954 World Series.
The Giants (still based in New York at this point) swept the Indians four games to none during the 1954 World Series. During the regular season, the Indians won 111 games (111-43) while the Giants were 97-57 –at this point Major League Baseball still operated under a 154 game schedule. Here are the individual game stats, and some of the highlights:
Game 1 – Wednesday, September 29, 1954 at the Polo Grounds in New York (attendance 52,751). Final score – Giants 5, Indians 2. Winning pitcher – Marv Grissom, losing pitcher – Bob Lemon. This game is best remembered for “the catch” – the incredible play by Willie Mays where he made a running grab of Vic Wertz’s long line drive with his back to the infield. The Indians had jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Giants tied it at 2 in the 3rd inning. There are some people that credit Mays’ catch with turning the momentum of the entire series in the Giants’ favor – it maintained the tie and eventually sent it to extra innings, where the Giants scored three runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to secure the victory.
Game 2 – Thursday, September 30, 1954 at the Polo Grounds in New York (attendance 49,099). Final score – Giants 3, Indians 1. Winning pitcher – Johnny Antonelli, losing pitcher – Early Wynn. In game 2, the Indians again jumped out to a first inning lead, 1-0. The Giants pulled ahead in the fifth inning and never looked back. Despite the loss, the Indians still outhit the Giants 8-4.
Game 3 – Friday, October 1, 1954 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium (attendance 71,555). Final score – Giants 6, Indians 2. Winning pitcher – Ruben Gomez, losing pitcher – Mike Garcia. The Giants jumped out to a 6-0 lead in this one, scoring in the first, third, fifth and sixth. The Indians scored their loan runs in the 7th and 8th innings.
Game 4 – Saturday, October 2, 1954 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium (attendance 78,102). Final score – Giants 7, Indians 4. Winning pitcher – Don Liddle, losing pitcher Bob Lemon. As they did in game 3, the Giants jumped out to an early 7-0 lead before the Indians started to fight their way back. The Giants scored in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, while the Indians scored their runs in the 5th and 7th innings. It was too little, too late and the Indians were swept on their home grounds.
The Giants were in the midst of a roughly 20 year drought when they won in 1954; their prior World Series championship came in 1933. Their 2010 championship was the first since 1954; it was also their first title since they moved to the west coast.
Now for the more modern matchups – the Indians last visited AT&T Park in 2005 (at the time it was still called SBC Park). The Indians swept the three game series winning the first game 10-2 (winning pitcher CC Sabathia, losing pitcher Brett Tomko); winning the second game 7-6 (winning pitcher Jason Davis, losing pitcher Jason Schmidt); and winning the third game 5-3 (winning pitcher Cliff Lee, losing pitcher Kirk Rueter). The Indians were managed by Eric Wedge, the Giants by Felipe Alou; by the end of the series the Indians were in 3rd place, 10 ½ games back, while the Giants were in 4th place, 10 games out.
When the Giants came to Cleveland in 2008, they took two of three games. In fact, game three of that series was the only time in team history that the Indians managed to beat the Giants in Cleveland.
That brings us to the current series in San Francisco; let’s take a look at each of the matchups.
Friday evening – Carlos Carrasco (7-3, 3.87 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (4-5 with a 3.71 ERA). Carrasco has had three great starts in a row, shutting out both the Yankees and the Twins, and holding the Pirates to just one earned run. Carrasco has also won 6 of his last 7 games; at the beginning of June his ERA sat at 5.18. A great deal of his success is due to the fact that he’s been getting a consistent number of ground ball outs. Sanchez had a rough outing in his last start against the Oakland A’s on June 18. He only lasted 4 2/3 innings, and gave up four earned runs on 6 hits, while he walked three, struck out three, and threw two wild pitches; most of the damage came in the fifth inning. Sanchez has struggled with his control this season (53 walks in 85 innings) so the Indians really need to practice patience at the plate to make sure they don’t offer any additional assistance. Shelley Duncan has been called up from AAA Columbus (Travis Buck was sent down) in order to allow for another right-handed bat off the bench. One person that should probably be in tonight’s lineup – Orlando Cabrera. Lifetime against Sanchez, he’s 5-9 (.555).
Saturday afternoon (national FOX broadcast) – Justin Masterson (5-5, 3.18 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (6-4, 3.44 ERA). Masterson finally earned a W against the Pirates last Sunday, after losing his prior four starts. Even though he only surrendered two earned runs, Masterson really labored for the win; he threw 111 pitches through the fifth inning. One area of concern – left handed batters are hitting .317 against Masterson, while righties are hitting just .201. Matt Cain earned a no decision in his last start against Oakland on June 19, as he went seven innings, giving up just three hits and one earned run. The Giants lost the game 2-1, as Trevor Cahill only allowed one run for Oakland. In a recent start against the Washington Nationals, Cain pitched a complete game, struck out 11, and hit an RBI double. The only other active pitcher to pitch a complete game, strike out 10 or more, and hit a run-scoring extra base hit is Florida’s Ricky Nolasco. Kind of an obscure set of stats, I just like the idea of Matt Cain doing a little bit of everything in that one.
Sunday evening (ESPN Sunday night game) – Fausto Carmona (4-9, 6.17 ERA) vs. Madison Bum garner (3-9, 4.06 ERA). I don’t think I need to rehash what I think of Carmona right now (you can flip back a few days to see that), but I’d be pleased if he didn’t embarrass himself on national television. Although to be fair, Bumgarner’s last start against the Twins was also dreadful. He gave up 9 hits and 8 runs before he even managed to record a second out. Manager Bruce Bochy was forced to pull Bumgarner after just a third of an inning. Sunday ‘s game just happens to be the Madison Bumgarner t-shirt giveaway; it remains to be seen if Indians fans will need it to dry their tears, or if Giants fans will have the need for a large tissue with “Bumgarner” stamped on it.