The San Francisco Giants rallied late to punch a ticket to the World Series in Thursday's 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, closing out the National League Championship Series in five games.
San Francisco continued its dominance in the playoffs, per MLB Public Relations:
A three-run, walk-off homer to right by left fielder Travis Ishikawa sealed the deal.
Ace of MLB Stats noted the historical significance of the clinching dinger:
Fox Sports 1's Jon Morosi reacted to Ishikawa's heroics:
Jayson Stark of ESPN analyzed the strategy Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opted for late in turning to Michael Wacha in the ninth inning:
ESPN's Skip Bayless felt the loss of St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina hurt the Cards in the NLCS:
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News praised Fox commentator Joe Buck for his game-winning call:
Awaiting the NL pennant winners in the Fall Classic are the upstart Kansas City Royals, who have won an unprecedented eight consecutive games to start their amazing postseason run.
The Giants were prepared to celebrate immediately after the dramatic end:
MLB The Show captured the beautiful Bay Area fireworks:
A strong start by Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright saw San Francisco's bats go quiet in front of the home AT&T Park crowd. Wainwirght discussed his desire to succeed in the face of elimination before Game 5.
"Until last year's NLCS, I was undefeated in the postseason, and I just don't want to get a bad rap for not being a good playoff pitcher," said Wainwright, per Stats LLC, via ESPN.com. "That's the time I want to shine the most. ... I know I'm capable of doing that."
However, the sleeping Giants awakened in time to tag St. Louis' bullpen when it counted most.
One big swing kept the hosts in the thick of things in the bottom of the third. Joe Panik blasted a two-run home run to score Gregor Blanco and give San Francisco a 2-1 edge. But solo shots by Matt Adams and Tony Cruz allowed the Cardinals to climb back on top.
That set the stage for several intense, scoreless frames that preceded Thursday's epic finish to the NLCS, where Giants manager Bruce Bochy made his case for Cooperstown in the opinion of ESPN's Keith Olbermann:
When Wainwright exited after seven solid innings, pinch hitter Michael Morse launched a tying home run off of Pat Neshek.
Sports tax guru Robert Raiola brought up a relevant statistic:
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted how much that changed the complexion of Game 5:
Check out some of the clubhouse scenery as the joyous Giants turned it up for the special occasion:
None of the games in either Championship Series were decided by more than three runs. That offers insight into just how much the two clubs left standing earned their stripes.
MLB's official Twitter account posted an appropriate graphic to describe them:
In the previous two even-numbered years, the Giants have won the World Series. Now they will try to go three-for-three against an extremely hot and confident Royals club. Kansas City will once again be counted out, but the Royals can no longer be underestimated after sweeping their way to this position.
Since San Francisco hadn't hit a home run in the NLCS until Thursday, it should be a small-ball battle for the ages against the Royals. With strong overall pitching on both sides, runs will be hard to come by, and KC's aptitude for stealing bases could give it a big edge.
Both teams seemed fated to meet to tussle for the Commissioner's Trophy based on their championship-caliber grit. It should result in one of the most entertaining World Series in recent memory to cap off a sensational 2014 MLB playoffs.