Why No MLB Team Wants the San Francisco Giants Pulling Off a Comeback

Ian CasselberryMLB Lead WriterOctober 10, 2012

The San Francisco Giants could still lose their NLDS with the Cincinnati Reds in a decisive Game 5 on Thursday.

But the NL West champions certainly appear to have seized the advantage in the series after winning the past two games at Great American Ball Park. After toughing out a 2-1, 10-inning win in Game 3, the Giants came back to crush the Reds in Game 4 with an authoritative 8-3 victory.

All the pressure is presumably on Cincinnati in the series decider. The Reds have blown a 2-0 series lead in which they dominated the Giants in San Francisco. Yet by losing the past two games, the NL Central champs face a humiliating collapse on their home field in a season during which they finished with the second-best record in MLB

However, it's not just the Reds who should be concerned with the Giants staging a comeback in this series. If San Francisco wins the series, any team they face next—whether in the NLCS or World Series—should be wary of the matchup.

Here's why the Giants should scare their future postseason competition. 


Pitching Can Win Any Series

Going into the postseason, the Giants looked to have one of the best—if not the best—starting rotations of the 10 MLB playoff teams.

Some of that perception was based on reputation, however.

By August, Madison Bumgarner looked like an NL Cy Young Award contender. But he faltered badly in September, compiling a 5.47 ERA in five starts. Those struggles have continued into the postseason. In Game 2 of the NLDS, Bumgarner was roughed up for four runs and seven hits in less than five innings of work. 

Yet Ryan Vogelsong also struggled in September, posting a 5.34 ERA. He shook that off in his first-ever postseason start, holding the Reds to one run and three hits over five innings in Game 3 Tuesday . 

But the pitcher that should scare the rest of the MLB playoff field is Tim Lincecum. Writing him off would have been understandable after he had the worst season of his big-league career. He went into the playoffs on a weak note, allowing 11 earned runs in his final two starts. That led Giants manager Bruce Bochy to keep him in the bullpen for the NLDS.

However, when Barry Zito lasted only 2.2 innings in Game 4, San Francisco needed someone to help out the bullpen with an extended outing. That ended up being Lincecum, who pitched 4.1 innings while allowing only one run and two hits. He also struck out six.

Lincecum likely earned a spot in the NLCS rotation   should the Giants win Game 5 and advance. That should make this team even better. 


Role Players Stepping Up

In a must-win game for the Giants (yes, they all became must-win after falling behind 0-2 in the NLDS), Buster Posey went 0-for-4. 

The likely NL MVP didn't come through with a big game when his team needed it. Bochy moving Posey to first base to replace the ineffective Brandon Belt didn't quite work out as planned. Perhaps first base is just cursed for the Giants during this series. 

But while Posey didn't get a hit, several of his teammates contributed to the scoring effort. 

Angel Pagan went 2-for-3 with two RBI, leading off the game and putting the Reds on their heels with a home run. Gregor Blanco also hit a homer and drove in two runs. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all was Joaquin Arias, who came off the bench to bat 2-for-3. 

The Giants had difficulty scoring runs in the first three games of the series, but their  role players raised their games with the season on the line. Maybe Mike Leake starting for the Reds (replacing the injured Johnny Cueto) had something to do with that. Regardless, San Francisco batters took advantage of the matchup.


Beating Torture 

The theme of the Giants' 2010 season was "torture."

"This team, they take you through the wringer," Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow told MLB.com's John Schlegel back then. "They take you right to the brink of disaster and misery, and then they pick you right up again."

San Francisco found itself in another torturous playoff situation in Game 3 this NLDS. Reds pitcher Homer Bailey went 5.2 innings without allowing a hit, eventually throwing seven innings while giving up only one run. 

The Giants managed just one hit through nine innings before eventually tagging reliever Jonathan Broxton for two hits and scoring the go-ahead run on an error by Scott Rolen. A one-run lead was all Sergio Romo needed to close out a fiercely contested win that got San Francisco back in the series. 

Did we mention that was a must-win game, with the Reds holding a 2-0 lead and only needing one more victory to eliminate the Giants from the playoffs? San Francisco grinded out a win in what might end up being the turning point of the series, and postseason.


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