Bullpen’s Effort, Juan Uribe’s Blast Send Giants into the World Series

October 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Games like this make baseball the greatest sport there is. Playoff baseball at its best, with one team trying to reach the World Series for the first time since the Barry Bonds era and the other attempting to keep their season alive. Philadelphia was packed full of fans not ready to say goodbye to 2010, while the San Francisco Giants blocked out the enthusiasts in their effort to end the National League Championship Series here and now.

The sixth game didn’t begin as they would have liked, as starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez was off from the start. He has been terrific for the Giants, posting a 3.07 ERA during the season and an ERA much lower this postseason, but if there is one negative it’s his tendency to be wild. He certainly was against the Phillies on this night; his start was auspicious, and his exit was soon thereafter.

Two runs crossed for Philadelphia in the first, as the young left-hander issued a walk and allowed three hits in the frame to put his team behind. He struggled with his control in the second but helped his cause in the top of the third.

Roy Oswalt, who took the loss in relief in Game 4, made quick work of the Giants in the first two innings but ran into trouble in the third, as Sanchez greeted him coldly. The pitcher made solid contact and rapped a single up the middle. With that, noise was made and a busy inning had begun. The suddenly hot Andres Torres singled him to second, then Freddy Sanchez did his job in bunting the two over for Aubrey Huff. San Francisco’s slugger delivered, scoring Sanchez with a single.

Torres wasn’t as fortunate, as the speedster was gunned out at home on a strong throw by Shane Victorino.

Usually rallies are killed by such plays, but heads up base-running by Huff made all the difference in keeping the inning alive. He went to second as the throw from Victorino went home, and the decision paid dividends, as first baseman Ryan Howard was unable to scoop Buster Posey’s ensuing grounder in an attempt to record the final out. Huff was on the move as soon as contact was made and kept running as Howard struggled to coral the dribbler. As he crossed home plate without a throw, the Giants tied the game. It would remain 2-2 for a long time.

That’s because of Oswalt’s superb outing and the remarkable performance put together by San Francisco’s bullpen. Sanchez was pulled after allowing the first two to reach in the bottom of the third and after his jawing match with Chase Utley in a mild, benches-clearing fracas. His mind was all out of sorts, which was especially sad considering how dominant he was in his previous start against Philadelphia. But Jeremy Affeldt had his back, retiring the dangerous 4-5-6 hitters in the Phillies lineup without relinquishing a run. One of those who fanned was Ryan Howard, who remained RBI-less in the postseason by grounding out.

Affeldt began the effectiveness out of the pen, and Game 4 starter Madison Bumgarner and lefty specialist Javier Lopez followed suit. The trio combined to pitch five innings of three-hit ball, and, as a result, the eighth inning began with the score stuck at two apiece.

Ryan Madson, who had relieved Oswalt to pitch a scoreless seventh, took the mound for the eighth, hoping to have another uneventful inning under his belt. The first two Giants went down harmlessly, but then Juan Uribe stepped to the plate.

Uribe, who had the game-winning sacrifice fly in Game 4, was looking to put San Francisco ahead once more. A stout six-footer, the nine-year veteran with a constantly aggressive mentality went after Madson’s first pitch, a slider, and made sure he wouldn’t get it back. A level, almighty swing produced a high fly-ball to right field. Uribe sprinted out of the box, not counting on it drifting into the seats. Then, as he approached first base, the ball snuck over the wall by no more than a foot. Citizen’s Bank Park went silent. All that could be heard was Uribe’s feet and the cheers from the Giants dugout. It was music to the ears of every fan of San Francisco.

Holding a 3-2 lead, Tim Lincecum of all pitchers entered. Their ace who started just two nights earlier had been warming in the pen at the time of Uribe’s liftoff, and, just making the second relief appearance of his career, he was unsurprisingly shaky. Two singles were allowed with one out by the unorthodox right-hander, which led to his exit and closer Brian Wilson’s entrance.

Life was pumped back into the stadium, but it was soon taken away, as Carlos Ruiz lined a fastball from Wilson right into Huff’s glove at first, starting a demoralizing inning-ending double play. Uneasiness consumed the crowd, and the silence returned. Their team was now possibly three outs away from vacating amidst severe depression.

Philadelphia wouldn’t go down without a fight, but they would indeed go down. Two walks were issued by the quirky, black-bearded Wilson, the second coming with two out, but Howard did what Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees had done just the night before. He stood there, bat on shoulder, and watched the seventh pitch of the appearance, a hard slider, hit the outside corner for strike three. The call was made, Howard stood dejected, and Posey jumped out of his crouch and rushed towards Wilson. His teammates did the same, and the celebration began.

With that, the suspense culminating in one memorable strikeout, San Francisco is heading to the World Series for the first time since 2002, trying to attain their first title since 1954.

Three years before their last championship, Bobby Thomson hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to win the NL Pennant. The Giants, then of New York, lost the World Series to the Yankees. Uribe’s blast wasn’t as dramatic, nor does it come close to comparing to Thomson’s incredible moment, but it could do something his did not. The homer to right could help the Giants to a World Series championship. Now, the Texas Rangers stand in their way.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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