How the Giants Have Changed Baseball

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How the Giants Have Changed Baseball
Al Bello/Getty Images

The count was three balls, two strikes to Philadelphia's slugging first baseman Ryan Howard. There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with the tying run 180 feet away at second base.

Citizen's Bank Park swelled with 46,062 fans, over 2,400 more than capacity, each fraught with the up-to-now blasphemous concern that the San Francisco Giants would eliminate their beloved Phillies from postseason contention.

The mighty Phillies, world champions just two seasons earlier, and back-to-back National League champions, now stood on the brink of an upset.

How could it be that the underdog in this National League Championship Series, a team that many did not even expect to be in the playoffs, was now one pitch from reaching the World Series?

A team without a single 30-home run hitter, or a single 100-RBI producer was now on the verge of defeating a club boasting of Howard, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, and so many other dangerous hitters up and down the lineup.

As much as it seemed like a nightmare to the Philadelphia faithful, it was actually happening in real time.

The next pitch was a 90 mph slider on the outside corner at the knees.

Ryan Howard froze, and the moment itself was frozen in time: as home plate umpire Tom Hallion rose quickly from his crouch and thrust his fists to signal the third strike, the third out, and the clinching of a pennant, Brian Wilson and the San Francisco Giants began to realize that they had done the impossible.

This defining moment was also a proclamation of the sea change that the Giants were now in the midst of bringing to the game of baseball.

Following an era of unprecedented home run totals and offensive explosion, the era of the pitcher had returned, this time sporting a new look: the shoulder length hair of Tim Lincecum and the ever-growing jet-black beard of Brian Wilson.

How has the pitching-heavy style of this club changed the game? In more ways than one, and in each way the arms of the Giants have made an indelible mark and led the charge into a new era of baseball.

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