By Claire Reclosado-Baclay
After pulling off a historic comeback, the San Francisco Giants remained in Cincinnati awaiting the results of the remaining National League Division Series game between the Saint Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals. Friday night, the Giants left their hotel and headed to the airport without knowing if they were headed home to face the Cardinals or taking a short flight to Washington.
As the team plane sat on the tarmac awaiting word, the Giants watched the battle between the teams.
Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong’s wife, Nicole, tweeted, “The excitement on this plane right now…ahhhh!! Send us home Cards!!”
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval tweeted a picture of players gathered around a screen watching the game and included the caption, “Woooo that was an unbelievable game -Now is time to buckle up and head back to the Bay #OrangeOctober baby #PeleaPelea”.
Finally, the game was over. They were headed back to San Francisco.
The red hot Cardinals, fresh off of a ninth-inning comeback over the Nationals, will be the Giants’ next opponents in the postseason as they open the National League Championship Series in AT&T Park on Sunday.
From this point on, the Giants will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
During the regular season, the Giants and Cardinals split their series 3-3. San Francisco allowed 22 runs to score and scored 30. 15 of the 30 runs that the Giants scored were from August 8—Vogelsong got the win as he blanked the Cardinals.
San Francisco’s pitchers have fashioned a 3.81 ERA against St. Louis, a little higher than the 3.68 ERA they finished the regular season with.
In the Division Series, their ERA rose to 4.11, but some luck and opportune runs pushed them past the Cincinatti Reds, despite the Reds posting a 3.13 ERA in the series.
While a little luck and good timing allowed the Giants to advance, it will take more than that for the team to get to their second World Series in three seasons.
The Cardinals are coming off their sixth-straight win in an elimination game, tying an MLB record. Facing a team that has that much momentum going for them may be intimidating, but the Giants are on a hot streak of their own.
San Francisco came back from a 0-2 deficit to beat the Reds on the road in the five-game series—a feat never achieved by a team in the history of the NLDS.
Starting Sunday, the two teams with great storylines that remain go head-to-head in a seven-game series.
The Giants were able to get away with an offense that was less productive than they envisioned against the Reds, but the Cardinals are a different story. With St. Louis’ relentless nature, San Francisco’s offense needs to be consistent and present—something that is entirely possible.
When facing St. Louis pitching in the regular season, the Giants position players have fared well. Team leader catcher Buster Posey owns a .476 BA with 2 HRs and 6 RBI in six games. He wasn’t the only one thriving against the Cardinals, outfielder Angel Pagan (.350 BA), infielders Brandon Belt (.444 BA), Joaquin Arias (.429 BA), Brandon Crawford (.292 BA), and Marco Scutaro (.333 BA) have also found success.
With the pitching staff coming back to contribute towards wins, all it takes is for the bats to wake up for the Giants to head to another World Series.
These two teams have faced each other twice before in the NLCS. Both years, 1987 and 2002, the winner of the series moved on and lost in the World Series in seven games.
Claire Reclosado-Baclay is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco Giants. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.