SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants didn't win three World Series under Bruce Bochy by rolling over, and they didn't on Monday, even when facing elimination and the game's hardest thrower on the mound. And the Cubs didn't become baseball's best team by being unable to absorb a few blows.
In the end it took 13 innings for these two teams to end a classic Game 3, when Giants second baseman Joe Panik's no-out double plated Brandon Crawford for a 6-5 victory. It was a game that seemed to careen off in yet another unexpected direction every time you thought the story had been written.
The shockers started early, in the second inning, with Chicago starter Jake Arrieta putting the Cubs in position to prove that San Francisco's Mr. Infallible-in-October, Madison Bumgarner, was fallible after all. In the second inning, with two on, two outs, and two strikes, Arrieta delivered a thunderclap, turning on a Bumgarner fastball up in the zone and hammering it into the left-field bleachers.
A healthy smattering of blue-clad Cubs fans temporarily turned AT&T Field into Wrigley West as the city by the bay fell into a stunned silence. Arrieta had supplied the only three runs he and his airtight relief staff would need. Right?
It didn't turn out that way. The Giants put up single tallies against Arrieta in the third and fifth. He departed after six innings, but still appeared to be in good shape because of a Cubs bullpen angling for a season-long shutout of San Francisco. The Giants entered the game scoreless in 32⅓ innings against Cubs relievers this season.
But San Francisco's eighth began with Brandon Belt singling off Travis Wood, and Buster Posey walking against Hector Rondon. Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to play his trump card, summoning Aroldis Chapman, the triple-digit-throwing lefty the Cubs landed back in a July trade -- a deal made for precisely this kind of situation.
Chapman came out of the pen sharp, hitting 102 mph a couple of times in striking out Hunter Pence. But then the lefty-hitting Conor Gillaspie poked a fly ball over the head of diving right fielder Albert Almora as Belt and Posey circled the bases to put the Giants ahead, throwing the crowd into a frenzy.
Another crushing playoff loss for the Cubs. Right? Not so fast, as Lee Corso would say.
The Cubs' big bats had been relatively quiet for two games and eight innings, but with a man on in the ninth, MVP candidate Kris Bryant snuck a fly ball a whisker over the left-field wall off Giants closer Sergio Romo to tie the game and set up the finale.
So the Giants' even-year mastery? Still intact. Bumgarner's elimination game perfection? Besmirched but not beaten. The Cubs almost knocked out the Giants with nine runs over three games, six of them driven in by pitchers. But instead, after blowing their late lead and losing later still, they'll try to pick themselves up and knock out a San Francisco club that refuses to go down this time of year.