What was that San Francisco Giants even-year magic of yore? Some would call it a fantasy, but others called it clutch-ness, resilience, and maybe a little luck. Beards were feared, Edgar Renteria somehow hit that home run off Cliff Lee, and so on. Still, those who like to back up arguments with statistics (we totally recommend this) would say those Giants had great bullpens, hit well with runners in scoring position, and had Hunter Pence healthy wire to wire. The 2016 San Francisco Giants can’t say any of those things, and the magic has died in kind.
We hesitate to keep the theme of spells and omens, but you could point to the September 19 game at Dodger Stadium as the actual day the magic succumbed under the weight of the albatross of a bullpen and Madison Bumgarner’s fury. After starting out as a classic duel between the Giants ace and Clayton Kershaw, Bumgarner allowed Yasiel Puig to get under his skin late in the game, prompting Bruce Bochy to pull him with a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Adrian Gonzalez iced the win with a ball that eluded Pence’s glove and LA won the sort of game the San Francisco Giants would have stolen during the days of those even-year runs. Instead, San Francisco left Chavez Ravine that night with the NL West all but out of its reach. Worse, the Giants’ chance at even a wild card was beginning to slip away like a fleeting lead in the ninth. Yes, you can blame the bullpen here.