September 1st 2010 was a relatively warmer night than usual in the City by the Bay as the second place San Francisco Giants took on division rival Colorado at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum was facing off against Cy Young candidate Ubaldo Jimenez, who’s Rockies ball club only trailed San Francisco by 4 games in a still very open NL West race.
My mom and I had received tickets for this game from a friend of ours and sat just below lower level on the third base side.
The two star pitchers went at it all night. Trying to out do one another as each shut out inning moved along. The bottom of the eighth came along, and as Giants play-by-play commentator Duane Kuiper would say, it was looking like another 1 run “Giants baseball, torture” game.
Jimenez started the inning off by walking Giants second baseman Mike Fontenot. Shortly after, speedy outfielder Darren Ford, who had been up and down from Triple A all season, pinch ran for Fontenot. Lincecum followed the substitution with a sac bunt that moved Ford into scoring position with the top of the batting order coming up. The often-wild Jimenez, threw a pitch in the dirt that danced just far away from catcher Miguel Olivio, so that Ford could attempt to advance to third. The rushed Olivio, threw the ball away about 6 feet to the fair side of 3rd base passed the outstretched glove of Melvin Mora. Ford easily ran home and scored what was the eventual game winning run for the Giants in a 2-1 victory.
There’s something about that night that I’ll always remember. Not that my hometown team had just won an incredible game, but it was the fashion. It was the incredible atmosphere. It was the clutch plays. It was magic. And after that game, the San Francisco Giants have been nothing short of magic.
The Giants ended that regular season going 18-10 and passed the first place Padres for the NL West crown, something the Giants hadn’t won since 2003. And in incredible fashion won the 2010 World Series. In some eyes, it was sort of a fluke. A team that hadn’t been to the playoffs in 7 years, had just ran through their opponents like it was nothing. And it looked to be a fluke. The Giants failed to make the playoffs the following season, and the incredible magical season the year before, seemed to be a distant memory.
Until the next season.
After some mid season acquisitions, including Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro, the Giants once again won the NL West pennant and were headed to the playoffs.
What the Giants did that postseason, was legendary.
After falling behind 0-2 in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, they stormed back and took the series after winning 3 consecutive games on the road. The next series they faced the favorite St. Louis Cardinals. Fell behind quickly 3-1, but again fought back thanks to some great defense and timely hitting to take down the mighty Cardinals ball club.
And we all know what happened in the World Series against Detroit.
So, what is it about this Giants team? A ball club that’s always been near the bottom in their league in runs scores and almost every other major offensive category. Their pitching in the regular season isn’t elite. And at times their defense can get a sloppy. What is it about this team?
I don’t think even the players and coaches know. As the San Francisco Giants embark on a journey that could lead to their 3rd World Series title in 5 years, we see glimpses of the same magic of years past. Brandon Crawford, who batted .213 against righties, blasted a Grand Slam off Edison Volquez in the Wild Card game that sent home Pittsburgh. Ryan Vogelsong, a career journeyman, having a 1.19 ERA in the postseason. Past balls and errant throws in the 9th inning that spark these heroic, almost scripted, Giants wins. Timely hits with 2 outs, miraculous catches up against the wall, and many shutdown innings. It’s incredible. And its what this Giants team is all about.
Call it luck, call it pressure of the post season, call it what you want. The heart and effort that goes into every game played by this Giants ball club is extraordinary. They fight until the last out and they all have the same mentality. They’re not a bunch of All-Stars. No one on the team’s going to bat over .300, or hit 40 home runs, or drive in 100 runs. All their games start at 7 on the West Coast so you know not many East Coast reporters will analyze their games. But the Giants don’t care about all that, they care about wins. And that’s credit to their front office. Manager Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean have formed a group of winners. Guys who, no matter what the circumstance, play hard and for the team. And that’s what championship teams are all about.
The Giants continue their series against the Cardinals to see which team will represent the National League in the Fall Classic.