Thursday, October 11, 2012

Giants comeback to win NLDS

Everything was stacked against the Giants as they headed to Cincy.  After losing both home games, they had to play 3 straight on the road.  Since the first round is only 5 games, all 3 were elimination games.  (Why set up this ridiculous format?  2-2-1 makes sense - that way both teams have at least a chance to play a closeout game at home.)  The Reds hadn't lost 3 in a row at home this year.  Of course, they weren't playing the Giants.

(Is 5 games really enough to determine the better team?  I mean, really?  You make them play 162 games to see who's worthy of the playoffs, then basically go with a coin toss when they get there?  ridiculous.  Don't forget, this isn't the NBA where Jordan-led teams can go 72-10.  No, in baseball, every single team wins about 55 and loses 55 guaranteed.  Its what you do with the other 52 games that determine your record.  So in reality, they probably need a 11 or 13 game series to remove luck helping one side or another too much).

Anyway, after being outscored 5-2, then 9-0 in our 2 home games, SF traveled to Cincinnati to squeeze out a close 2-1 win in the 10th inning of game 3.  Vogelsong pitched a solid outing, but things still looked bleak.  We had only scored 3 runs in 3 games.  Even the 10th inning run was from a Scott Rolen error, even though I thought it was a tough grounder to handle.  Making things worse, we were sending Barry Zito out to the mound.  It was not exactly inspiring much confidence in Giants fans.

My, things sure changed in Game 4.  The Giants managed 8 extra-base hits (including 3 homers), which was mind-blowing compared to the 3 total through the first 3 games.  They also went 3-7 with runners in scoring position.  The Reds conversely were 0-7 with RISP and left 10 runners on base.  Though Zito allowed 2 runs in 2.2 innings, Lincecum eventually took over for a solid 4.1 inning, 6 strikeout, 1.42 ERA performance to get the win.  Pagan, Arias, Scutaro and Sandoval combined for 8 hits and 6 RBIs.  The one name not mentioned here was Buster Posey, who went 0-4, though he did draw 1 walk.

But Buster was just saving himself for Game 5.  We scored all 6 of our runs in the 5th inning, as follows.  Blanco led off with a left-field single.  Crawford, whom every Giants fan wanted to be benched for a hot Arias, shocked everyone with a triple down the right baseline.  After Cain grounded out, Pagan reached on a critical error by shortstop Cozart.  Scutaro drew a walk.  Pablo singled to left, loading the bases.  Up came Posey.

On a 2-2 count, Buster launched Latos' pitch 415 feet, nearly into upper deck in left center field.  The grand slam gave the Giants a 6-0 lead which proved ultimately insurmountable for the Reds, though they came close.  This was only the 3rd grand slam by a Giant in postseason history (Will Clark 1989, Chuck Hiller 1962).  It was also just the 3rd postseason grand slam by a catcher (Eddie Perez 1998, Yogi Berra 1956) and the 54th grand slam in MLB postseason history.

Can the Giants repeat the 2010 championship feat?  It sure doesn't look likely.  Cain doesn't look untouchable.  Lincecum's year relegated him to the bullpen.  But after making history with being just the 8th team to come back from 0-2 in a 5 game series and the 1st team to win a 5 game series after losing the first two games at home and winning 3 straight away, there is reason to believe in the unlikely.

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