By Claire Reclosado-Baclay
Three more outs separated the San Francisco Giants from the World Series. Just three more St. Louis Cardinals hitters to retire. With this task at hand, the showers that fell upon AT&T Park turned into pouring rain.
What more would you expect when the Giants are so close to winning the National League Pennant? Simple, routine, common methods of getting things done are not this team’s style.
This team is different.
These are the 2012 San Francisco Giants. When it’s time to make it happen, it is done in the most uncanny, surprising, and complicated way. Oh, and they like to make history while they’re at it.
After becoming the first team in history to go down 0-2 in a best-of-five series and win three games on the road to win the NLDS, on Monday night the Giants won a Game 7 of a best-of-seven series in the postseason for the first time in franchise history. With that 9-0 win over the Cardinals, the team is the third in National League Championship Series history to be down 3-1 and then come back to win the series.
How did this team, when all stats point to their elimination, not let history dictate the outcome? How did they manage to pull off improbable win after improbable win?
“Guys just stuck together and they were worried about finding ways to win games and everybody did that,” San Francisco’s Game 7 starting pitcher Matt Cain said. “They weren’t worried about the names on each other’s backs.”
When it was win-or-go-home, wanting to get the job done for their teammates was always the reason they gave for being able to pull it off when it mattered most. Six times this postseason, the Giants were faced with elimination. Winning every one of those six games got them to this point.
“I’m still numb,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said on Monday night. “This team, these guys deserve all the credit. They were determined not to go home. They had that never say die attitude. And Hunter did a great job of keeping them pumped up. They were playing for each other and of course our fans, they just did not want to go home. They were determined and it showed in their playing.”
The selflessness of the Giants gave them the ultimate gift every ballplayer dreams of—the chance to play in the World Series.
2012 NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro took a moment in that wet ninth inning to stretch his arms out, turn his head up to the sky, and soak up the moment. Under the lights beaming down on the field, it looked as though he was unaware of the 43,056 fans in attendance and the millions watching him from home. Maybe it was at the moment that he was able to pause and accept that this was it, it was finally happening to him.
“When I woke up this morning I just said to myself, whatever happens today I’m just going to try to enjoy this moment and just go out there and have fun,” Scutaro said.
And he did. As the raindrops greeted his face during the ninth inning, they highlighted the unbridled joy that was allowed to peek out of the infielder. 11 years spent in the big leagues and, at long last, Scutaro will be in his first World Series.
This season, the path the Giants took to get to the World Series was not a straight road. There were injuries, suspensions, and elimination games to muscle through. It would have been easy to shrug their shoulders and point fingers at one of the many obstacles, but that was not their style.
When it rains, they bathe in the raindrops, enjoy the shared experience, and keep pushing toward that World Series Championship.
“The city of San Francisco knows what it’s like to be in the postseason—at least now we do,” San Francisco pitcher Brian Wilson said in the champagne-drenched clubhouse. “We tasted it in 2010 and we liked it. We liked that soup and we wanna eat some more.”
Game 1 of the 2012 World Series is scheduled for Wednesday, the next day postseason soup will be served—and for the first time it will be the Detroit Tigers versus the San Francisco Giants.
Claire Reclosado-Baclay is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco Giants. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.