For the first time in eight years, the Giants find themselves one win away from the World Series after they pushed across a run in the ninth to beat the Phillies 6-5 in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series on Wednesday.
There were many heroes in Wednesday’s win. Sure, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey were a combined 7 for 10 — which was huge — but this victory has many contributors.
Let’s take a look at a few:
Aaron Rowand: Rowand found himself back in the starting lineup for the struggling Andres Torres. Rowand didn’t do much with the bat, going 0 for 2. But he did come up with a huge defensive play, making a perfect throw home to get Carlos Ruiz trying to score from second on Shane Victorino’s single. It came in the middle of the Phillies’ four-run fifth inning. If not for Rowand’s play, it would have been a five-run inning … or worse.
Pablo Sandoval: Another former everyday starter who has found himself on the bench lately. But Sandoval came up with a key two-run double in the sixth. Sandoval thought he had that two-run double earlier in the at-bat when pulled a ball down the right-field line. But the ball was ruled foul. Replays were inconclusive. The Panda came back to battle through the lineup, then delivered a liner to the wall in right-center, giving the Giants a 5-4 lead.
Freddy Sanchez: The numbers may not show it, but Sanchez is starting to look better at the plate. Sanchez got a first-inning single — the Giants’ first first-inning hit since Game 3 of the NLDS — to get things started Wednesday. Sanchez went to second, and then to third, when Joe Blanton thought he was a cricket bowler and started bouncing every offering to the plate. He then scored on Buster Posey’s single.
Cody Ross: Yeah, that guy, again. Cole Hamels joked Tuesday that the best way to stop Ross would be to hit him. That’s what Blanton did in the first, although not intentional. There was some concern, as Ross was clearly stung by the pitch. But he bounced back and had a big double in the sixth that set the table for Sandoval.
Aubrey Huff: Huff had three singles in five at-bats, all of them were huge. He singled and scored on Posey’s double to left in the third inning for a 2-0 Giants lead. He singled home Andres Torres from second in the fifth after the Phillies had scored four in the top of the fifth. And he got the ninth-inning rally started with a one-out single under the glove of Ryan Howard.
Buster Posey: We’ve been waiting for Posey to get started in the NLCS. Frankly, he’s looked more like a rookie at the plate this series than the poised player we’ve grown accustomed to this season. But the rookie pulled it together Wednesday. He singled home Sanchez in the first inning and doubled home Huff in the third. He had a double to right in the seventh, then a huge single to right in the ninth, that put Huff on third. And he made a nice short-hop grab of Rowand’s throw to the plate and tagged out Carlos Ruiz in the fourth.
Juan Uribe: Uribe was unable to start because of sore wrist he injured in Game 1. But he came in late and made two huge plays. First came in the field, when he threw out Ross Gload with a strong throw from deep in the hole in the top of the ninth. And then came his game-winning sacrifice fly, when got the ball in the air — instead of striking out; instead of grounding into a double-play, as we’ve so many Giants do this year — when he needed to. A great at-bat and a great finish to a great Giants win.