The San Francisco Giants Reward Their Loyal Fans

As Russ Hodges so aptly put it ...

... the Giants win the pennant!

I smoked last night's victory cigar a bit furtively. Unlike the evening a couple of weeks ago when the Giants defeated Atlanta for the NLDS, when we were basking in Indian Summer warmth here in the Bay Area, autumn has fully arrived now, and I huddled under the eaves of my house, sheltering from the wind and rain.

But that Montecristo had to get smoked, man. It's the principle of the thing.

The rather comical scene was perhaps a fitting symbol for the victories of this San Francisco team. In 10 postseason games now, the Giants have scored a total of 30 runs, while allowing 29. And they've put up a record of 7-3.

And last night's game was perhaps a fitting microcosm of this excruciatingly divine run they're on. Starter Jonathan Sanchez was wilder than a Jackson Pollock painting, and manager Bruce Bochy's leash on him was so short than Sanchez was gone after just two-plus innings. But reliever Jeremy Affeldt (Jeremy Affeldt?!?) calmy came on and iced the Phillies' bats, and over seven innings a parade of San Francisco relievers (including two members of their starting rotation) shut Philadelphia out on five hits and a walk. No doubt the Phillies were tearing their hair out in frustration, but the fact is that this was kind of a normal game for the Giants. They don't wallop anybody, but they have a way of prevailing through slow, steady Chinese water torture. Yes, that analogy isn't original, but it's just so remarkably fitting.

And last night's bottom of the ninth was perhaps a fitting microcosm for this grindingly tense game. Giants closer Brian Wilson rarely does things the easy way, and walking Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley to set up a two-out confrontation with Ryan Howard while protecting a one-run margin was the furthest thing from the easy way. And could there be any doubt that the count on Howard would go to three-and-two?

It was surprising that Howard somehow couldn't even get off as much as a check swing on Wilson's full-count slider, which was pretty close to right down the pipe. It was a very bad time for the Phillies' cleanup hitter to be egregiously outguessed, but he very blatantly was.

All in a night's work for these Giants, though. Bring on the Rangers. How this will go is bewilderingly unpredictable, except that it will most likely be, well, torturous.

Read more great baseball stuff at The Hardball Times.


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