Next stop: Philadelphia!
The Giants punched their tickets to the City of Brotherly Love with a 3-2 win over the Braves in Atlanta. Madison Bumgarner is the first story--six impressive pressure-packed innings by the rookie southpaw, giving up only two runs, both off the bat of the outstanding Brian McCann. The next is mid-season acquisition Cody Ross, a 29-year old journeyman outfielder with his fifth club in seven seasons, who roped not only the game-tying homer off Derek Lowe (to break up the no-hit shutout in the 6th), but also the go-ahead single in the very next inning. The final story is the bullpen trio of Santiago Casilla (1-2/3, 1 hit, 2 K, no runs), Javier Lopez (4-pitch whiff of Jason Heyward), and Brian Wilson (9th inning save--an agonizing, tortuous save, but still a save). They got the outs they had to get. Casilla was particularly impressive, working in two innings and throwing 23 nasty-looking pitches (17 strikes) to six batters.
Derek Lowe made the Giants look really feeble for five innings (he faced the minimum) by working fast and throwing that ridiculous slider-sinker thing. Finally, Ross got his breakthrough hit and the dormant Giants had life. McCann's blast in the bottom half was a deflating, but Lowe finally ran out of steam in the 7th, walking Aubrey Huff with one out. Buster Posey hit a 30-footer into no-man's land that third baseman Troy Glaus couldn't make a play on and suddenly the Giants had a rally. Bobby Cox came out to talk to his pitcher, one cagey old vet to another, and the squinty-eyed pitcher told his squintier-eyed manager "this here mound ain't big enough for the two of us." The Ancient One waddled back to the dugout and watched his gunslinger shoot blanks, walking Pat Burrell. Waddling Cox waddled back out and that was Lowe's night. He was not happy, dropping an obvious f-bomb for the nation's lip readers. I was happy, however. Getting Lowe out was our chance, I figured. Juan Uribe hit a double-play grounder off Peter Moylan that was NOT a double-play. In fact, it was nothing at all. Huff scored on the play to tie the game once again. Aaron Rowand struck out against Jonny Venters, but Cody Ross hit a ground ball in the "five-and-a-half-hole" and the Giants were a run up. Pat Burrell was thrown out at the plate on the play. He should have been substituted for once he reached base, or certainly after Huff scored the tying run. Nate Schierholtz was coming in for defense anyway, and would have scampered home easily on Ross' hit. It's not like we needed extra runs or anything.
Like the win against San Diego to clinch on the last day of the regular season, the Giants did just enough to get through. It was a terrifying 9th inning, with Wilson walking two guys with one out, but the gang hung on for the win. The Braves were a banged-up, short-handed outfit, but they had some fight left and made the Giants work like hell. The Giants came from behind in back-to-back games on the road to win a playoff series. That bears repeating. The Giants came from behind in back-to-back games on the road to win a playoff series.That's one hell of an accomplishment! It's even more amazing when you consider they scored only 11 runs. Thanks to some extraordinary pitching (only 9 runs allowed) and some help from the porous Braves defense, the Giants prevailed.
Philadelphia, here we come!