When it came down to the games that mattered most in 2010, the San Francisco Giants didn't torture their fans at all. In fact, it seems that every time there was a must-win game, the Giants won it handily.
Once Edgar Renteria hit his second big homerun in the World Series, did anyone really doubt it could be done? Was there anyone not wearing a Rangers hat that thought Texas had it in them to come back from a three-run deficit against Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez, AND Brian Wilson while also bouncing back two days later to beat Matt Cain?
I know I didn't. And it isn't because the Giants have been just rolling through the playoffs. It's because of the statistics that back up a Giants win and that it was all quite predictable.
Here are three facts:
With three or more runs of support, Tim Lincecum is 47-8 in his career.
When given the chance, Brian Wilson struck out the last batter of the game 27 times this season.
Pat Burrell struck out 12 times in 13 at-bats, but for every great regular season pickup the Giants made (like Burrell), there's been someone else who stepped up in the postseason batting right behind them (like Edgar Renteria).
It might not make sense that the Giants ended up sending Cliff Lee home with an 0-2 record in the World Series (the only two postseason defeats in his career), but then look at it closer.
Look who the Giants beat this year. For some reason, they excel at making bad pitchers look great and then turn around and make the ace of the staff look like a back-ender in the rotation.
Roy Halladay was 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in one start in the regular season, and went 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA against San Francisco in the NLCS. Remember, this is a guy who threw a perfect game AND a no-hitter this year against a lineup that was not exactly leading the league in hitting.
Roy Oswalt went 1-3 this year against the Giants in the regular season, without bad peripherals, but still picking up three losses. He dominated San Francisco in Game 2, but was less than stellar coming out of the bullpen in Game 4 and ended up with a no-decision in the series-clinching Game 6.
The Giants also touched up Cole Hamels during the regular season to a tune of nine runs in 11 innings, good for an ERA of 7.63 and a WHIP of 1.909. In Game 3, he gave up three runs in six innings, but for Matt Cain, that was more than enough to get the win.
Going back even farther, the Giants beat Derek Lowe twice. They dropped seven in an inning on Ubaldo Jimenez earlier this year. They beat Mat Latos twice in the final month of the season to finally make San Diego lie down.
There's something about this team that makes you wonder how they do it. As many have said this year, up and down the lineup (and the roster, pretty much), they're all pretty much the same. No one jumps off the page, and for that reason, the Giants can either be very good, or very, very bland.
The guys with power (Burrell, Huff, Uribe, Posey) showed up at certain times this year, and between them you can expect just what you got: 15-25 HRs, 70-90 RBIs.
The guys without power also showed up (Sanchez, Fontenot, Torres, Ross, Renteria), and again gave very solid lines. All of them hit around .275 and could be expected to pop the ball out of the park a few times a year.
Simply put, although this team didn't have any huge playmakers, they didn't have any glaring weaknesses either. The focal point on this team is (and should be) the pitching, and it was.
It was a team full of complementary players, and when all you need is one guy per game to step up, the Giants put themselves in a very good position to storm into and through the playoffs like it was no problem.
That's the strength of this team. There is no drama, because if Burrell strikes out, Renteria has the hero in him to pick him up. If Sanchez fails to move Torres to third, Aubrey Huff has the power in him to crush one over the wall.
Every guy in this lineup can hurt you, and although its not Ryan Howard or Albert Pujols status (that you KNOW he's going to hurt you), it's something that carried this team all season.
So, was it torture? Of course it was. But was it unexpected? Not at all. This was a team of destiny, and boy did they act like it.