SAN FRANCISCO – In an October full of comebacks, there has been very little rest for the Giants heading into this World Series. They’re 6-0 when facing elimination, wiping out a 2-0 deficit in the division series against Cincinnati and climbing out of a 3-1 hole in the National League Championship Series against St. Louis.
That series ended here Monday night with a 9-0 victory that saw the final outs recorded with the backdrop of a biblical downpour at AT&T Park. Just 16 hours later, the weary Giants were back at the ballpark to get ready for the Series opener tonight against the Detroit Tigers and face a gaggle of media still doing plenty of talking about the NLCS.
“It was such a special moment, it gave you chills,” outfielder Hunter Pence said here Tuesday. “There we were, all standing in the pouring rain, knowing we were that close to going to the World Series. We have guys on this team who truly love the game and that’s so special, something you’ll always remember.”
“I woke up this morning around 10 or 11,” said second baseman and NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro. “I was like, ‘That was a dream last night? What is this?’”
The Giants and the 1985 Kansas City Royals are the only teams to win six elimination games in the same season (the Royals wiped out 3-1 deficits against Toronto in the ALCS and Cardinals in the World Series). Monday’s win was the Giants’ first postseason clinching game at home since the 2002 NLCS, when they also beat the Cardinals.
“You have to savor special moments like last night, you have to enjoy them, which we did,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “But it’s time to move on now, and the journey is not over. We have a big series here ahead of us, and it’s a little different in the World Series.”
“I don’t really know the Giants that well. I’m kind of getting a crash course on them,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “But to be honest with you, when they were down, 0-2, going into Cincinnati having to win three games, for me that was unbelievable. So nothing surprised me when they got through the championship series after I saw what they did in the division series.”
Bochy admitted his club’s resilience has been his favorite part of its run to a potential second World Series title in three years.
“I think you have to say you’re a little surprised to do it that many times,” Bochy said. “But again, it says a lot about the character of the club and how determined they were not to go home. They just kept fighting, and good things happen when you do that and you don’t give up and you have that never-say-die attitude. That’s how they hit the field every day, like there’s no tomorrow.”
Bochy announced that Madison Baumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain will follow Barry Zito in the rotation, meaning two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum will continue to pitch in relief.
“He gives us another weapon there,” Bochy said. “He’s resilient. I can use him back-to-back days; I can use him three or four innings if necessary. If something happens, I can start him. So we think that’s the best way to go right now.”
While the Giants have not taken a day off from series to series, the Tigers have been sitting since clinching the American League Championship Series last Thursday against the Yankees. They spent some time playing simulated games in Comerica Park, trying to not accumulate rust they clearly gathered in a similar situation six years ago.
Detroit swept Oakland in the ALCS, then suffered defensive woes and a lack of hitting in losing the World Series in five games to St. Louis.
“It wasn’t like in 2006 where some people would indicate we sat around happy to get there, not doing anything, eating bon bons,” Leyland joked. “That wasn’t the case. We ran into bad weather problems in Detroit, so we were really handicapped. It didn’t really take us by surprise.
“We figured it could possibly happen, but we were actually over at Ford Field (the Detroit Lions’ domed stadium across the street from Comerica Park) trying to run over some bunt plays and stuff. That read good in the newspaper. We thought we weren’t getting a lot out of it, but we were doing the best we could.”
Said Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder: “What is it we play? Eight months straight of baseball? I don’t think five days will throw us off.”
The Bisons will be hosting their annual Game One party tonight at Pettibones Grille inside Coca-Cola Field. The doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is a $5 donation to the United Way. All-you-can-eat chicken wings and Coca-Cola products will be available from 7:30-9 and Game One will be shown on the restaurant televisions. The admission price includes a free ticket to a raffle of 40 game-used road jerseys from the 2012 season.
Beginning at 5 p.m., the team is hosting a sale of numerous game-worn 2012 items in the home clubhouse on the ballpark’s service level. For every $20 spent, customers get an additional raffle ticket. Pre-orders will also be taken for the franchise’s 25th anniversary season DVD.