In a best of seven game series, being down 3-1 is essentially professional sports’ version of life support. You’re not gone yet, but the warm breath of the undertaker can be felt on your neck. It’s not as bad as being down 2-0 and having to win three straight on the road in a best of five series – that’s just suicide, but really, like that would ever happen…
Now thanks to Barry Zito‘s best performance in six years as a San Francisco Giant, the orange and black have yet again picked themselves up off the mat and stared elimination in the face, showing no fear, almost mocking the baseball God’s in the process. You’re not supposed to win more than two elimination games in a row, let alone four. That’s just not how it works. There are rules or something against it.
But rules don’t apply to this cast of characters. Whatever punches they’ve been dealt, not only have they taken them – they’ve punched back and punched back harder.
Twenty-seven outs away from elimination last night, one of the biggest busts (at least contractually) in baseball history tightened his shoe strings and pitched the game of his life. The woeful offense who couldn’t have made contact in crucial spots with the big, red, plastic bat on the toy aisle of your local drug store all of a sudden did so, forcing the Cardinal clubbies to put the champagne back in the cooler. The Giants were not going out like that – dead, they were not.
Now the Red Birds, who obviously felt confident (as they should have) might have doubts creeping in the back of their mind. That’s not to say the Cardinals wont win this series – the odds are still in their favor, but leaving the comfy confines of home to face Ryan Vogelsong (who outside of Justin Verlander might be having the best postseason of any pitcher) and then Matt Cain at AT&T Park aren’t exactly preferred travel plans.
The San Francisco Giants have faced adversity all season long. Days into the season, Brian Wilson was done for the year. Statistically, their best hitter (and one of their best defenders) in Melky Cabrera was suspended. Their two time Cy-Young award winner pitched like the worst pitcher in baseball for just about the entire season. Pablo Sandoval was just able to crack the 100 game mark thanks to two extended disabled list trips and their big in-season acquisition in Hunter Pence was all but a flop.
Yet, here they are, two wins away from the World Series. This was a team that wasn’t even supposed to win the National League West according to most once the Dodgers brought in their high priced talent. This was a team who should’ve been swept by the Cincinnati Reds. This is a team who fell behind in the NLCS 3-1, with death imminent.
But as we’ve seen throughout the year – these guys aren’t going out easy. The twenty-seventh out in baseball is the most difficult to get. The Giants have made sure all of their foes throughout the season have come to realize that.