Programming note: For comprehensive Giants-Nationals coverage from Washington, watch ‘October Quest’ today at 1:30 p.m. and immediately following the game on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
WASHINGTON – Giants manager Bruce Bochy was a fan of the Big Red Machine, so he was just as stunned as everyone else to learn the Giants’ nine-game postseason winning streak broke a record established by Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Davey Concepcion and Tony Perez almost four decades ago.
“It’s humbling, to have your club discussed in the same boat as the Big Red Machine, but we’ve had quite a few changes here, too,” said Bochy, whose team has outscored opponents 47-9 and their starting pitchers have gone 8-0 with a 0.75 ERA over the last nine postseason games, beginning with Barry Zito’s saving grace in Game 5 of the NLCS at St. Louis.
“The streak is great but there’s so much baseball ahead of us. We’ve played one game in this series.”
Brandon Belt put it in different terms in the immediate aftermath of the Giants’ 3-2 victory in Game 1 of their NL Division Series Friday night at Nationals Park.
“We’ve done it so many times now, but we’ve got to move forward and get ready for tomorrow,” Belt said. “Because if we’re not, they’re going to jump all over us.”
Bochy and Nationals manager Matt Williams are going with the same lineups for Game 2, as Tim Hudson opposes Jordan Zimmermann. I’ve pointed it out a few times already, but it’ll be nothing new for the Giants to face a pitcher coming off a no-hitter. They beat Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLCS after the Phillies’ right-handed ace no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in the previous round.
Zimmermann tossed his no-hitter on Sunday, in the Nationals’ regular-season finale to cap a 96-win season in which they went 11-0 in his final 11 starts. He’s been very tough on the Giants over the years, and is 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA over his last six starts against them since the beginning of 2011. In eight career outings (51.2 innings), he has never allowed a home run. (Earlier in his career, Zimmermann took a memorable loss against the Giants on June, 4, 2009 – the day Randy Johnson picked up his 300th career victory in front of a sprinkling of fans after a miserable rain delay.)
In other words, the Nationals have someone to match up with Hudson, whose success against them -- 18-5 record and 2.35 ERA in 31 starts – is well documented. The Giants went 2-5 against the Nationals this season, and their only two wins came in Hudson’s starts as he held them to a run in 12 1/3 innings.
Given his September struggles, though, including two starts that saw him give up four first-inning runs, expect Bochy to get the bullpen busy at the first sign of trouble.
A couple other notes:
--Pablo Sandoval’s 12-game postseason hitting streak broke the Giants’ previous record of 11 held by Marco Scutaro (in 2012) and Irish Meusel (in 1921-22), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The all-time postseason hit streak record is 17, shared by Hank Bauer (1956-58), Derek Jeter (1998-99) and Manny Ramirez (2003-04).
--Joe Panik is 5 for 10 in his first two postseason games. The only player in Giants history to have more than five hits in his first two postseason games is Monte Irvin, who had seven on Oct. 4-5, 1951.
--Belt charmed reporters as the Giants’ representative in the interview room. When asked if he was 100 percent after his concussion, he said, “I think so. I am not sure how good my normal was before the concussion.” And asked about the rookies contributing, he said, “There is a lot of hazing that goes on in Major League Baseball. Not hazing, but the older guys give the younger guys a hard time. It seems like here, it doesn’t matter who you are, you are treated like one of the team. You are treated just like everybody else. I think that helps your psyche: ‘I am not some peon out here. I get to actually help out. I think that helps the mentality a bit.”