Sergio Romo saves his first postseason game against the Reds
The San Francisco Giants accomplished something no other National League team has ever done. After losing the first two games of the NLDS, the Giants came back to win the series.
What made it even more impressive was that they did it winning three straight on the road in Cincinnati. The Reds have excellent firepower on offense, as well as some strong pitching. They also have the top ranked relief corps in the National League.
Yet somehow, the Giants won Game 3 by a score of 2-1, even though they managed just three hits. They shook off their funk in Game 4, scoring eight runs to tie the series and set up an epic matchup between Matt Cain and Mat Latos.
This was a thrilling game, one for the ages. After scoring six runs in the fifth inning, the Giants survived the final 15 outs and hung on to win.
The Reds had men on base and were threatening in every inning, whittling down a six-run deficit to two in the ninth inning. Sergio Romo allowed a run in the ninth inning, but was able to retire Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen with the tying runners on and the winning run at the plate.
Let's take a look at the top five clutch moments in the Giants' amazing comeback.
Gregor Blanco is congratulated by Hector Sanchez after his two-run home run
The Giants had scored the first run of Game 4 when Angel Pagan led off the game with a home run. However, the Reds rallied against Barry Zito in the bottom of the first and tied it at one run apiece.
In the second inning, with Hector Sanchez on first, Gregor Blanco came to the plate to face Mike Leake. Blanco, who had only five home runs this season, blasted a pitch over the right field wall.
The Giants took a 3-1 lead on that blast and would never trail again in the series.
Pagan's hit seemed to fire up the Giants' offense and Blanco's homer was the ultimate answer to the Reds scoring in their half of the first inning.
Blanco had a good series, both offensively and defensively.
Jay Bruce is out at third base trying to steal
The Giants were ahead 6-3 in the sixth inning, as the Reds had already scored a run on Ryan Ludwick's home run. Jay Bruce walked and Scott Rolen singled, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.
Matt Cain looked extremely vulnerable as Ryan Hanigan came to the plate. Hanigan worked the count full, then came the critical decision by Dusty Baker. He decided to have Bruce and Rolen run on the pitch.
Cain threw a strike to get Hanigan and Posey gunned down Bruce for a strikeout/throw-out double-play. This would be the final hitter Cain would face, as Bochy brought in George Kontos, who retired Drew Stubbs to end the threat.
The Giants and Cain were in trouble, but the double-play enabled them to minimize the damage.
Tim Lincecum was outstanding in relief for the Giants
In Game 4 of the NLDS, starting pitcher Barry Zito lasted only 2.2 and two-thirds. He was unable to get out of the third inning, having allowed four hits and four walks in a very shaky outing.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy replaced Zito with George Kontos to get out of a jam. After Kontos and Jose Mijares each got one out in the fourth inning, Bochy called on Tim Lincecum to get the final out with two men on base.
Lincecum struck out Ryan Ludwick to end the threat. He then went on to pitch four more innings, allowing just one run. Lincecum's contribution was critical to the Giants' Game 4 win. He came through when the Giants needed him the most and looked like the dominant pitcher who won two Cy Young awards.
Buster Posey hits a Grand Slam off Mat Latos
The San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds were locked in a 0-0 tie heading into the fifth inning. Then the Giants exploded for six big runs off Reds starter Mat Latos.
Latos, who is reviled in San Francisco for his "I hate SF" comments, seemed to lose his composure as a couple of close pitches were called balls by plate umpire Tom Hallion.
Latos had allowed two runs, when Posey came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. Latos was pitching for the strikeout or ground ball, as Posey, a slow runner, is susceptible to the double play if he hits the ball on the ground.
After swinging at a pitch that was off the outside corner for strike two, Posey stepped out to gather himself. Latos threw the same fastball and Posey hammered it off the facade of the second deck to give the Giants a 6-0 lead.
The Giants' lead was tenuos as the Reds kept battling back, but it was Posey's home run that proved to be the difference.
Sergio Romo exults as he gets the final out of the series
Sergio Romo came on to retire Dioner Navarro for the final out in the eighth inning, as Angel Pagan made a tremendous diving catch. Romo then had three more outs to go, leading the Reds 6-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Romo allowed one run and put two men on base with only one out. Jay Bruce, a tough left-handed hitting slugger came to the plate. Romo and Bruce engaged in an epic battle that saw Romo throw about a dozen pitches before getting Bruce on a fly ball to Xavier Nady, in left.
The job was not done however, as veteran Scott Rolen strode to the plate. Romo was able to strike out Rolen and the improbable comeback was complete.
This was a huge moment in Romo's career, as he had never saved a postseason game. He came through when his team needed him most, and the Giants will move on to the NLCS as their dream of another World Series title remains alive.
Bruce Bochy made all the right calls in the final three games of the NLDS.
The torture is definitely back with the San Francisco Giants. There were several heroes in the their historic comeback from the brink of elimination in the NLDS.
In addition to the plays noted earlier, we saw the Giants play some tremendous defense in the final game of the series.
Gregor Blanco made a stellar diving catch to rob Zach Cozart. Brandon Crawford made two very nice plays at shortstop, including a diving catch on a line drive off the bat of Ryan Hanigan in the eighth inning.
Center fielder Angel Pagan made a great catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Dioner Navarro to close out the eighth inning.
It should also be mentioned that Hunter Pence provided emotional leadership before each of the final three games. Pence's pregame speeches seemed to get the Giants' players on the same page and focused on winning as a team.
Manager Bruce Bochy made all the right calls in the final three games of the NLDS. It was a game for the ages and one that we will remember for a long time.