Oct 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; San Francisco Giants catcherBuster Posey
(28) hits a grand slam in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds in game five of the 2012 NLDS at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Since its introduction in 1981 (and implementation in 1995), the San Francisco Giants have appeared in 6 National League Division Series. They will start their 7th NLDS appearance tomorrow afternoon against the Nationals, coming in with a 3-3 NLDS record.
The Giants appearances in the NLDS have been filled with memorable moments, some created by players who will go down as legends in Giants’ history, if not baseball history. These moments were game changers, series changers, and even playoff changers.
This was not an easy list to make, but I tried to include important plays or efforts to help the Giants secure an NLDS victory. Here are my Top 5:
#5: Nen closes it out (2002)
Robb Nen was my favorite closer, not because I grew up watching him in my little league days, but rather because of the fight he had in him. As most of you know, Nen was beat to a pulp during the middle of the 2002 season, but kept laboring on and pitching until the season was over. To not give him recognition for his efforts in the playoffs and the season as a whole should be illegal.
He came in the 9th inning of Game 5 looking to shut the door on the Braves. After and error, a steal and a single; he struck out Gary Sheffield and got Chipper Jones to ground into a game-ending double play, sending the Giants to the NLCS where they would eventually win the pennant.
#4: 2-out rally to pull ahead (2010)
Brooks Conrad became sort of a folk hero in Giants’ lore, as his three errors cost the Braves their ticket to the NLCS. One of his errors came in the top of the 9th, after the Braves put 2 runs up on the board in the 8th, hoping to close it out to force a Game 5.
With one out, Travis Ishikawa walked and Andres Torres struck out. With two outs in the inning, Freddy Sanchez hit a single putting Ishikawa in scoring position, who was then brought home with Aubrey Huff‘s single. With the game tied, Buster Posey came up to the plate and hit a one-hopper to Conrad, which he misplayed allowing Sanchez to score.
The Giants would go on to win that game and move on to the NLCS.
#3: Aurilia’s 3-hit game (2002)
The Giants were in a must-win situation in Game 4. After a Giant shellacking in the first game, Tom Glavine came out hoping to close the book on the Giants’ playoff hopes. 2 2/3 innings later, Glavine was pulled from the game after giving up 7 earned runs.
4 of those earned runs were thanks to Rich Aurilia, who hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd, and then hit a 3-run shot in the bottom of the 3rd. That home run closed the book on Glavine, as the Giants were able to stave off the Braves and force a Game 5.
#2: Lincecum’s 2-hit shutout over the Braves (2010)
Shutting out your opponent to start out a series sends a message that nothing will come easy in the playoffs. Tim Lincecum was locked in a heated pitcher’s duel with Braves’ starter Derek Lowe. It wasn’t until the 4th inning that the Giants scored their first and only run of the game.
They rode Lincecum’s complete game shutout performance to take Game 1 of the series. He struck out 14 while only giving up the 2 hits on 119 pitches to cap off a nice start to that series.
#1: Facing Elimination 3 Times (2012)
I wanted to lump this all into one big moment, as the Giants had their backs against the wall and did everything they could to make sure they saw another game. There were plenty of memorable moments in this NLDS, but it all began with the beginning of Game 3.
All eyes were on Hunter Pence, as he gave an inspirational speech in the dugout to light a fire under his teammates. The Giants then overcame a 1-run deficit in the 3rd inning of Game 3, and then scored a run in extras to force a Game 4.
Barry Zito‘s struggles in Game 4 allowed for Lincecum to make his first relief appearance, in which he dominated over 4 1/3 innings. This was a game where the Giants also saw home runs from Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval. The Reds tried to fight back but couldn’t get anything going as the series was tied up.
It was Game 5 though which had arguably the most memorable moment of the NLDS, as Buster Posey came up to the plate with the bases loaded in the 5th against Mat Latos. With a 2-2 count, Posey scalded a ball to left field that even Latos himself knew was gone. That grand slam padded a 2-0 lead to make it 6-0. Matt Cain and the bullpen stifled the Reds comeback attempts, winning 6-4 and advancing to the NLCS.
Those are my top moments of the NLDS, if you have any that you’d like to add, please comment below.