A Giant step for San Francisco

San Francisco’s dominant pitching staff and timely hitting propelled the Giants into the World Series for the fourth time since moving to San Francisco and the first time since 2002. Entering Game Six of the NLCS, the Giants starters had an ERA of 2.84 so it was not a particularly good sign when Game Six starter Jonathan Sanchez became the 14th starter in Giants postseason history to pitch two innings or fewer.

Sanchez’s short stint however, did not do the Giants in as manager Bruce Bochy made a historic call to the bullpen that helped the Giants advance to the World Series.

According to the Elias Sport Bureau, Saturday was the first time in postseason history that a team used four straight left-handed pitchers in a game (Jonathan Sanchez, Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner and Javier Lopez). When it was all said and done, five Giants relievers combined to hold the Phillies without a run over the final seven innings. It was the most innings pitched without allowing a run by the winning team’s relievers in a postseason series-clinching game that did not go to extra innings since Game Five of the 1984 NLCS (Padres’ bullpen combined for 7 ⅔ scoreless innings against the Cubs).

Closer Brian Wilson sealed the deal by getting five outs to earn his third save of the series. Wilson posted a win and three saves in this year’s NLCS. According to the Elias Sport Bureau he became the fourth pitcher to win or save four games in one postseason series since saves became an official major-league statistic (in 1969). He joins Dennis Eckersley (1988 ALCS), Mitch Williams (1993 NLCS) and John Wetteland (1996 World Series) as the only four pitchers to accomplish that feat.

Besides stingy pitching, Juan Uribe's tiebreaking solo HR off Ryan Madson in the eighth inning was the difference in the game. The bomb by Uribe was his first postseason homer since his first postseason game, Game One of the 2005 ALDS (for White Sox). He went 23 postseason games without a home run, but once the streak was snapped Uribe became the fifth Giants player with a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later of a postseason game.

Go-Ahead HR in 8th Inning or Later
Giants Postseason History

Outfielder Cody Ross was named NLCS MVP after batting .350 with three HR and five RBI. Ross became the fifth player in MLB history to start the season with a different team and win the LCS or World Series MVP award. He also extended his postseason hit streak to seven and hit a double for the third straight game. The latter is tied with Willie Mays for the second-longest such streak in Giants franchise history (Edgardo Alfonzo holds the record with a double in four straight games).

The Giants victory was their sixth, one-run win this postseason as they become just the third team in MLB history with that many one-run wins in a postseason.

Looking ahead, the Giants and Rangers have gone a combined 104 seasons worth of baseball without a World Series win. The Giants have not won a title in 55 seasons while the Rangers have never won a title in their 49 seasons as a franchise. It's the second World Series in the last 50 years (non-strike season) in which both teams had 92 wins or fewer. The other was 1997 (Marlins vs Indians).