By Claire Reclosado-Baclay
This predicament is not unfamiliar to the San Francisco Giants. Yes, just in the series prior, they faced elimination and came back. Now, they need to win three straight or go home.
The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Giants 8-3 in Game Four of the National League Championship Series and not the Giants face elimination.
“This is just where we are. It’s what we have to deal with,” San Francisco outfield Hunter Pence said after the game. “The last series we were down in a similar situation, but this is a new series. They beat us tonight and we have to go out and beat them tomorrow.”
Pence, prior to Thursday’s game had no home runs and no RBI, hit a solo home run in Game Four—an early catalyst of hope for fans. It has been hard to ignore the silence of San Francisco’s bats, but that home run was loud enough to trigger a reaction that indicated that maybe, just maybe, the offense was going to support starter Tim Lincecum.
It didn’t happen. The home run by Pence and later a two-run home run from third baseman Pablo Sandoval was all the noise that the Giants made—not enough to quiet the eight runs from the Cardinals.
“We do have to get these bats going, though,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re shutting us down. We’ll get some guys on base, we’re just missing a big hit here or there. They pitched well tonight. They pitched well yesterday. It would be nice, make life a little easier and get some runs for our staff.”
Tomorrow, Barry Zito takes the mound for the Giants. The team has been victorious in his last 12 starts and they hope to continue that streak and head back to San Francisco to continue the season.
“Barry has pitched well for us,” Bochy said. “You don’t win as many games as he’s won this year if you aren’t throwing the ball well. He’s earned this. And we have all the confidence in Barry tomorrow.”
Teammates echoed the manager’s sentiments. In his last outing, Zito pitched 2.2 innings and allowed two runs on four hits. Despite his personal stats, with Zito starting, good things have been happening, even when he hasn’t been able to go deep into games.
“I think we all feel confident when he’s on the mound and I’m looking forward to him being out there,” catcher Buster Posey said.
While conventional wisdom says that the Giants are most likely not going to make it to the World Series, it’s hard to ignore the results of the NLDS. This same team was facing elimination and came back to advance.
“This series is different from the last one,” Pence said. “The thing is you just got to simplify it. Just go out there and enjoy it. We worked hard to get here. We played really well to get here. That’s how I’m going to look at it, you know, our backs are against the wall. It definitely has a different feel whenever you have your back against the wall, but try to let it bring out the best.”
San Francisco is going to need to be at their best when facing this Cardinals team that is overflowing with confidence and momentum.
The Giants, when down during the NLDS, turned things around following a passionate pre-game speech from Pence. Don’t expect a planned dugout moment from the “Reverend” this time around. If the tides are going to turn, it will happen organically.
All San Francisco knows is that something has to happen or this journey will end in St. Louis.
“The motto is ‘Find a way to win tomorrow and bring it back to San Francisco,’” Pence said on Thursday. “You just have to continue to give everything you got. If you are going down, go at them. Just continue to play and find a way to get a win tomorrow.”
Claire Reclosado-Baclay is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco Giants. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.