Friday, October 17, 2014

BASTA: World Series Berth Cements Giants’ Spot Among October Legends

((HT: BASTA/Ben Leonard))

With all the talk about the “Cardinals’ Way” leading up to the series, the Giants proved that their way is superior. In a tight series, the Giants dominated in the late innings and high-leverage situations to take themselves to the World Series for the third time in just five years. Regardless of the result of the Fall Classic against Kansas City, the Giants have become the new “Big Red Machine,” that the Reds were in the 1970’s, reaching four World Series in seven years.

Madison Bumgarner earned every bit of his World Series MVP Award, gritting through eight innings despite not having anything close to his best stuff. Jon Jay gave the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead in the third on a double that eventual hero Travis Ishikawa should have caught, and gave up two homers in the fourth inning, solo shots to Matt Adams and Tony Cruz. He settled in after the fourth, not giving up a hit for the next four innings. In a postgame interview on FS1, Bumgarner explained that he beared down after the fourth, “Making sure to make pitches with conviction.” Bumgarner’s grit and determination in Games 1 and 5 willed the Giants to win, and he hopes to do the same Tuesday night in Kansas City. With his contributions in the previous two postseasons, Bumgarner has left a legacy of excellence in October, despite just turning 25. Two Giants’ legends, Hall-of-Famers Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry, could not win even one Fall Classic in their entire careers. He wasted no time celebrating his accomplishments in the locker room.
((HT: Alex Pavlovic's Vine))

The Giants had not hit a long ball since Brandon Belt’s in the 18th inning of Game Two of the NLDS, and they certainly changed that on Thursday night. The Giants launched three long balls, including a two-run shot from the light-hitting Joe Panik in the third that gave the Giants a 2-1 lead. Michael Morse added a pinch hit homer in the eighth, tying the game at three apiece and igniting AT&T Park. Morse raised his arms while running around the bases, rallying the crowd and the team in a magical moment for Giants fans. His homer was reminiscent of his game-tying shot against the Padres at Petco Park in July.

With all due respect to Morse’s homer, Travis Ishikawa blew his out of the water, a walk-off three run homer in the ninth against righty Michael Wacha. The homer was the first walk-off home run to send the Giants to the Fall Classic since Robby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in 1951, on the way to a World Series loss to the Yankees. Wacha meated a fastball, and Ishikawa did not miss, leaving the Cardinals and Giants crying, for two very different reasons.

Ishikawa’s homer cemented his legacy in Giants’ history, in his second postseason. He was part of the Giants’ first championship run, earning his ring in 2010. The Giants and October baseball have become synonymous. No one can dismiss their success as pure luck now that they have done it three times. Pitching and defense have been the core of these teams, and the club followed that model once again on Thursday. Brian Sabean, the Giants’ general manager, was visibly emotional and crying, along with Pablo Sandoval and many others. Hopefully for the Giants, this postseason run will give Sandoval good reason to stay in San Francisco for a hometown discount, as he is due to become a free agent after the playoffs. Even if the Giants are swept in Kansas City, their legend will remain.

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