"The Giants Win the Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant!," uttered Giants' Hall of Fame broadcaster Russ Hodges in 1951 after Bobby Thompson hit the "shot 'heard round the world" that won the pennant for them. Those famous words in Giants history could be said again in 2010, as they apply to the club's most recent squad.
As the underdogs in the National League Championship Series, the Giants silenced all the naysayers. Day after day, they were picked to lose each game to the Phillies. Nobody seemed to give the San Francisco Giants a fighting chance, except for maybe F.P. Santangelo and Marty Lurie.
However, the Giants certainly did have a fighting chance. After Brian Wilson threw a nasty 3-2 slider to strike out Ryan Howard looking with runners at first and second with two out, Joe Buck, FOX's play-by-play broadcaster, summed it up best when he said, "The Giants win the pennant," a la Ross Hodges 59 years ago
It started out very grim for the Giants. They called on their starter Jonathan Sanchez to try and shut-down the Phillies' offense, but it just did not happen. In the very first inning, Sanchez issued a one out walk to Placido Polanco, who would later advance to second on a wild pitch. The next batter, Chase Utley, doubled to right, scoring Polanco from second and giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Ryan Howard would then single to left. Utley would eventually come in to score on a Jayson Werth sacrifice fly, extending the lead to 2-0 in favor of the Phillies.
Then the weirdness happened. In the top of the third inning, the Giants got a lead-off single from Jonathan Sanchez, the pitcher. It was a lead-off triple from Sanchez in game 162 that propelled the Giants to their 3-0 NL West clinching victory against the Padres. History would repeat itself. The next batter, Andres Torres, drilled a deep fly ball to center that center-fielder Shane Victorino appeared to make a basket-catch on, but it was dropped by him at the wall. Because Sanchez was confused on the play, the runners could only advance one base. Freddy Sanchez would then come up and lay down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners to second and third. This brought up Aubry Huff, who singled up-the-middle. However, only one run would score as Andres Torres was gunned down at the plate by Shane Victorino. Huff advanced to second since the ball was thrown home. Nonetheless, the Giants were on the board, but trailing 2-1. Then up came Buster Posey. Posey did not hit the ball hard, but his swinging bunt down the third base line proved effective. Polanco tried to make the throw to gun down Posey at first base and end the inning, but he ended up hitting Posey, and the ball ricocheted passed first-basement Ryan Howard. Huff would score from second on the error, knotting the score up a two.
Then, the Giants' bullpen took over. In their seven innings of shut-out work, they were sensational, yielding just 5 hits and striking out 6.
The bullpen was summoned right after Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley in the back in the third inning. As Utley walked to first base, he flipped the ball back to the pitcher's mound. Sanchez took offense and had some words for Utley, who roared back at Sanchez. Benches then cleared. After the altercation, Sanchez was removed for Jeremy Affeldt, who Bochy decided was coming in regardless of the heated exchange. The tone was then set for the rest of the night.
Affeldt inherited a jam with runners at first and second with nobody out after Utley was hit. He responded to the trouble by striking out Ryan Howard, inducing a fly-out from Jayson Werth, and coaxing a ground-out from Shane Victorino. The rest of the bullpen followed Affeldt's example.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Madison Bumgarner, a starting pitcher, relieved Affeldt. The Phillies loaded the bases in the inning, but Bumgarner induced a two-out comebacker from Victorino that ended the threat. The Giants would pull more Houdini acts later on.
With the score still tied at 2-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Juan Uribe came up against Ryan Madson with two outs and nobody on. Madson, who dominated the Giants' 4-5-6 hitters in Game 5, appeared to be cruising through the eighth, but on the first pitch to Uribe, Uribe took an outside pitch at the belt and flipped it out over the right field wall. The Giants, before a stunned 46,062 at Citizen's Bank Park, had a 3-2 lead and were only 6 outs away from their fourth National League Pennant in San Francisco Giants history.
Of course, the road to victory had to be torturous.
Tim Lincecum relieved Javier Lopez in the bottom of the eighth inning. Although he struck out Jayson Werth to begin the inning, he gave up consecutive singles to Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez. Bochy saw enough and summoned Brian Wilson for a five out save. With runners at first and second with 1 out, Carlos Ruiz lined a smash to first baseman Aubrey Huff, who caught it and threw to second to complete the double play. The runner at second, Shane Victorino, ran on contact, a costly move for his team.
The torture continued into the bottom of the ninth with the Giants three outs away from the pennant. Wilson retired pinch-hitter Ross Gload on a ground-out to second, ONE out, but walked the next hitter, Jimmy Rollins. The next batter, Placido Polanco, grounded out to third and reached on a fielder's choice. TWO out. Up came Chase Utley as the possible tying run. To add to the torture, he walked.
Now the match-up. Brian Wilson vs. Ryan Howard. The count swelled to 3-2, a prerequisite for a Giants final out. Howard had already singled and doubled earlier in the game. Another double would certainly win the game for the Phillies with the runners taking off on contact, but on that night, it was a faithful 3-2 backdoor breaking ball from Wilson that froze Howard. THREE out. As the ball was called strike three by the home plate umpire, the Giants poured out of their dugout to begin their celebration. The Phillies faithful booed the Giants, as they celebrated on Philadelphia turf, but those jeers were music to the Giants' ears. The Giants win the pennant.
My thoughts coming soon....