The Giants won Game 6 of the National League Championship Series the way they’ve won games all season … by the slimmest of margins and with contributions up and down the lineup.
So let’s take time to salute all those who made key contributions to the Giants’ clinching victory.
Andres Torres: Torres, who struggled so much in the NLDS and early in the NLCS, went 3 for 5. He also played Ryan Howard’s double off the wall in left center perfectly, preventing Jimmy Rollins from scoring from first in the sixth inning.
Freddy Sanchez: Sanchez went 3 for 4 with a double. He also sacrificed runners to second and third in the third inning, setting up the Giants’ first run.
Aubrey Huff: Huff singled home the Giants’ first run in the third inning, then alertly went to second when Torres was thrown out at the plate. That allowed Huff to score the tying run when Buster Posey reached on Ryan Howard’s fielding error.
Cody Ross: Ross was 1 for 4 with a double in Game 6. But we had to mention him because he was the NLCS MVP.
Jonathan Sanchez: Sanchez?!? What?!? Yes, we know he couldn’t find the strike zone, throwing 27 balls and 24 strikes in two-plus innings. But it was Sanchez who singled in the third to start the Giants’ two-run rally. Also, Sanchez helped start a mini-melee in the bottom of the third after hitting Chase Utley with a pitch. After being hit by the pitch, Utley picked up the bouncing ball and flipped it toward Sanchez as he ran to first base. Sanchez didn’t appreciate the act, and offered Utley a suggestion. Utley then stepped toward Sanchez, asking him to clarify his remarks. So Sanchez offered him the suggestion again, and Utley waved him off. But it was enough to empty the dugouts and bullpens. Well, not completely. Jeremy Affeldt remained in the pen, and the couple of minutes of aggressive loitering on the field allowed Affeldt time to get properly warmed up.
Jeremy Affeldt: Affeldt came into the game with two on and no one out in the third, then struck out Ryan Howard, got Jayson Werth to fly to center and Shane Victorino to ground out, ending the threat. He set the side down in order in the fourth.
Madison Bumgarner: The rookie came in and pitched two scoreless innings, pitching out of trouble in both innings when allowed the potential go-ahead run to get into scoring position.
Javier Lopez: When the Giants acquired Lopez from the Pirates, I’ll admit I was puzzled. I couldn’t figure out why the Giants got him. Yes, at the time, both Affeldt and Dan Runzler were injured, so the Giants needed a lefty reliever. But I thought both players would return soon enough, and giving him Joe Martinez and John Bowker was a steep price for a short-term pickup. Well, Lopez has been golden for the Giants, particularly in the postseason. He threw a perfect seventh inning to keep the game tied 2-2.
Juan Uribe: How many clutch home runs has Juan Uribe produced this year for the Giants? His ninth-inning blast of Heath Bell to tie the game in April in San Diego. His two-run homer off Roy Oswalt to help beat the Astros 2-1 in May. His two-run homer off Jonathan Broxton in the ninth to beat the Dodgers 5-4 in September. He had two huge at-bats in the NLCS, bringing home the winning run with a sac fly in Game 4. And then he did it again, with a home run to the short porch in right in the eighth inning. Let’s all say it together: UUUUUUUUU-RIBE!
Brian Wilson: Yes, he supplied all Giants fans with another case of the “Willies.” Every time Bruce Bochy bring Brian Wilson in for a 4+ out save, it makes me nervous. Wilson does a good enough job of creating his own messes that he sometimes struggled when dealing with someone else’s mess (Game 2 of the NLDS). So when Lincecum gave up back-to-back singles in the eighth, in came Wilson. But he delivered, getting Carlos Ruiz to line into an inning-ending double play. Then came the ninth. You knew it wasn’t going to be a 1-2-3 inning. He got Ross Gload to ground to second, but then walked Jimmy Rollins. He got Placido Polanco to ground into a force play — a key play because it got the faster Rollins off the base paths — but then he walked Chase Utley. Then he pushed Ryan Howard to a three-ball count. It seemed every time Wilson wanted to throw a high fastball away, the pitch would sail way up and away, making for an easy take. When Howard fouled off a 3-2 fastball at the hands, my thought wandered back to an April game in San Francisco when Wilson walked Howard with two-out in the ninth to load the bases, then gave up a three-run double to Jayson Werth. But then Wilson came back with that cutter at the knees and the celebration was on.