On this day, in 2010, the San Francisco Giants clinched the NLCS thanks to a gutsy pitching performance from the bullpen and Juan Uribe‘s clutch 8th inning home run.
Going into Game 6, it was always going to be nervy. The San Francisco Giants had punched the Philadelphia Phillies in the mouth to start the series, thanks to Cody Ross‘ Game 1 heroics against Roy Halladay.
And after winning Game 3 and Game 4, the Giants had the opportunity to clinch in Game 5, but ultimately came up short at home.
With the series headed back to Philly for the final two games, the Giants had already exhausted their ace, Tim Lincecum in Game 5. Meanwhile, the Phillies deep pitching staff still had some life to it, and at the time, they were the team to beat.
Game 6 was wild.
Jonathan Sanchez, the resident hot-head of the starting rotation (the bullpen and dugout was full of them anyways) got a little heated after starting off the top of the third inning a little wild. He ended up hitting Chase Utley and the benches cleared. Granted, Utley had a reputation for making himself a target for opposing teams. Still, Sanchez let his emotions get to him in what was the Giants’ most important game since Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.
And then, Bochy went with his gut, to his gutsiest pitcher, Jeremy Affeldt.
Bochy’s Masterful Bullpen Approach
So much is made of the “opener” or the strategy of ditching the starter early in the postseason. Bruce Bochy was one of the first to really employ that in the postseason this decade.
So in came Affeldt for two perfect innings to settle the game down. Next was Madison Bumgarner‘s introduction to being an October reliever, and he was able to keep the Phillies off the board for two innings as well.
Ryan Madson had already put away Pat Burrell and Cody Ross. Then, “Mr. Jazz Hands” came up and on the first pitch flipped a fastball down and away over the right-field wall to give the Giants the lead.
Tim Lincecum was employed as the setup man in the bottom of the eighth, but he got the Giants into trouble. Brian Wilson ended up pitching a five-out save to send the Giants to the World Series. And we all know what happened after that.
A Personal Reflection
Throughout the Giants success this decade, there are a few moments that will always stick out at the top. Uribe’s homer is one of them.
I went to a friend’s house to watch the game, a die-hard A’s fan. The whole game I had to listen to him talk trash the Giants and cheer every time the Phillies did something good.
He complained and admonished Bochy for every single move he made with the bullpen. Yet, the Giants’ success this decade truly hinges on Bochy’s masterful approach to the bullpen in the postseason.
My eruption at the sight of Uribe’s homer landing in the planter box in right-field was a culmination of me thinking “Holy crap, we have our moment,” and “Thank God, I can shut this A’s fan up!”
I know I can’t be the only Giants fan who remembers that Game 6 with affection. What was your emotion that night? Share in the comments below!