With the World Series finale and the first wave of celebrations behind us, now might be a good time to reflect on the equally improbable and incredible postseason run the San Francisco Giants went on to secure their seventh World Series championship in franchise history.
Faced with 2-0 and 3-1 deficits respectively in the NLDS and NLCS rounds, the Giants rattled off a remarkable six consecutive elimination game victories to advance to the Fall Classic. Once there, they decided to remove all drama in the form of a four-game sweep of the American League champion Detroit Tigers.
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Some would say their World Series sweep was just as unlikely as surviving all of those elimination games, but I'll say it one last time when referencing San Francisco in the postseason: Throw all logic and conventional wisdom out the window once they get rolling. I'll stand by that, but what we can't throw away or forget are all of those important plays and performances that made it possible.
Here's a quick look back at the five biggest plays, performances and all around great moments in their postseason run.
Buster Posey's grand slam in NLDS Game 5: The potential National League MVP didn't have too many standout moments during the postseason, but when he did Buster Posey sure as heck made them count. There's no question his two-run home run in the World Series clincher was a soul-crusher for Detroit, but the hit that will be replayed over and over again in Giants highlight packages will be Posey's grand slam that sunk the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS. That big blast capped a six-run Giants rally, and more importantly established their postseason staying power.
Barry Zito takes charge in NLCS Game 5 and World Series Game 1: Barry Zito didn't give Giants fans much to believe in based on his first six seasons representing their favorite team and his NLDS performance against Cincinnati, but there he was in Game 5 with their season on the line. Naturally, he tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings that evening to keep the dream alive. Five days later, he was on the biggest stage in baseball outpitching Justin Verlander in the biggest start of both of their careers. It's a strange and wonderful game, isn't it?
Pablo Sandoval's three home runs in World Series Game 1: Anytime you joins the ranks of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, you've accomplished something pretty special. Pablo Sandoval did just that with his three-homer game in Game 1, and to make it all the more impressive he connected for two of those off Justin Verlander. He could have taken the rest of the series off and still earned the MVP honors. As it was, he contributed four more hits to finish one shy of the postseason record for total hits.
All of Tim Lincecum's relief work: Throwing out Lincecum's start in NLCS Game 4 against St. Louis, his postseason ERA was 0.69 in 13 innings of relief. Yes, this is a two-time Cy Young award winner who struggled all season long is his usual role as starter, was asked to shift to bullpen at the most important time of the season, accepted his role, and then dominated at it like we were always used to seeing. When you hear players talk about team, sacrifice, and checking their egos out at the clubhouse door, this is the type of the stuff they're referring to. If you didn't respect Lincecum before, you'd be a fool not to now.
Marco Scutaro singles home Ryan Theriot with the World Series clincher: Three months ago the combination of Marco Scutaro and Ryan Theriot serving as World Series heroes would have been laughable. At that time, Scutaro was actually among the biggest reasons the Colorado Rockies were marching towards their worst record in franchise, committing mental gaffe after mental gaffe in the field and on the bases, while posting a pedestrian .684 OPS. Meanwhile, Theriot was a bit player on the Giants bench that hardly seemed like a lock to make the postseason roster, let alone start a World Series game at DH.
Flash forward to October where they were manufacturing — with a little help from Brandon Crawford's sacrifice bunt — the difference-making run in the World Series clincher. And honestly, I couldn't think of a better combination to step up to exemplify the incredible work general manager Brian Sabean has done plucking unwanted puzzle pieces off of opposing rosters and the even better job Bruce Bochy does fitting those pieces together. It's an organization-wide process, and the Giants are clearly doing it better than anyone else in the game.
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