In a season that began with Brian Wilson going on the injured list (to undergo a second Tommy John surgery) which meant the bullpen was on committee and the hottest hand would be getting the yeoman's duty until further notice.
Guillermo Mota would be caught and have to serve 100 days as a penalty for being caught- a second time- having some form of performance enhancing drug in his system.
Tim Lincecum was struggling to find his form. Freddy Sanchez was having setback after setback in his rehab. But Melky Cabrera proved to be a steal of a deal coming from the Kansas City Royals for Jonathan Sanchez. He was en fuego (on fire) and his good play got him elected to the All-Star game and he continued his sensational play to win the game's Most Valuable Player award. The winning National League team would get the home field advantage for the Fall Classic, World Series.
And then the news that Melky Cabrera got busted for performance enhancing drugs. PEDs got the Melk Man. Suddenly there was a pall on the 2012 season. But what happened behind closed doors in the Giants' locker room was magical. The team felt betrayed. A man who they got along with kept something from them and that was not a part of the team mantra. Manager Bruce Bochy absorbed the emotions and was dead set against considering bringing Melky back once his 50-day penalty had expired. His team, the guys who were there in mid-August didn't need any more adversity.
Marco Scutaro, acquired for a player the Giants had called up earlier in the season (Charlie Culberson) because Pablo Sandoval had just undergone his second hamate surgery in consecutive seasons and more depth was needed for the infielders. More was expected from a gangly hustler who played himself into a couple of All-Star games with the Houston Astros and who was acquired by the Philadelphia Phillies for their 2011 pennant rush. Unfortunately, for Hunter Pence, the Phillies didn't have the intangibles necessary to capture the brass ring known as the World Series Championship trophy.
The rival Los Angeles Dodgers having already acquired malcontent, Hanley Ramirez, had broken the bank for a few Boston Red Sox players after Bobby Valentine proceeded to thoroughly dismantle an organization with loose lips and just overall bad body language. In return for James Loney and a couple of prospects (which could still prove to serve the Red Sox well because the Dodgers, like the A's, have always had a good crop of talent in their minor league systems) LA got Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Burkett and Nick Punto. All three established players.
But the group of guys who wear orange and black weren't fazed by their rival's efforts. Their goal was to win the western division and see where the chips fall.
When would the controversy of the Washington Nationals choosing not to play Steven Strasberg come in to play? You just knew it had to at some point. Because in baseball, unless you have the right mixture of players pulling in one direction somewhere, somehow, something will come back to bite you in the butt.
When Bronson Arroyo pitched 7 innings of one-hit baseball while walking only one batter and striking out 4 the Giants would go down 2-0 in a best of five series. But something happened that gave me a glimpse of hope when the "what if's" were spoken. Tim Lincecum was called out of the bullpen to work 2 innings. He gave up one hit, struck out two batters using just 25 pitches. Seventeen of which were strikes.
Game 3 at Cincinnati the Giants eked out a 2-1 victory.
Game 4 at Cincinnati the Giants won 8-3.
Game 5 at Cincinnati the Giants hung on to win 6-4.
Now they would have home field advantage against a St. Louis Cardinal team that manufactured one of the best comebacks ever against the hometown Washington Nationals. Insert Steven Strasburg controversy.
Game 1 @ AT&T Cardinals-6 Giants-4
Game 2 @ AT&T Giants-7 Cardinals-1
Game 3 @ Busch in St.Louis Cardinals-3 Giants-1
Game 4 @ Busch in St.Louis Cardinals-8 Giants-3
Game 5 @ Busch in St.Louis Giants-5 Cardinals-0.
This was a game for the ages.
I have seen Bob Gibson mow through the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers (although the '68 Tigers had Mickey Lolich and they won that Series). I've seen Sandy Koufax work his magic in World Series play but this performance by Barry Zito was a classic that I'll not soon forget. Best performance by a San Francisco Giant pitcher when you think about what was on the line. Below is the box score, courtesy of baseball-reference.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Giants 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 5 6 0
Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 1
San Francisco Giants
|Angel Pagan CF||5||0||0||0||0||1||.209||.674||17||13||-0.077||0.59||0.000||-0.077||-1.2||3||0|
|Marco Scutaro 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||.293||.691||15||11||0.020||0.52||0.044||-0.024||-0.1||2||4|
|Pablo Sandoval 3B||4||2||2||1||0||1||.310||.890||17||12||0.069||0.63||0.083||-0.015||1.4||1||1||HR|
|Joaquin Arias 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||.375||1.000||0.000||0.00||0.000||0.000||0.0||0||0|
|Buster Posey C||4||0||1||0||0||2||.189||.654||12||8||-0.085||0.85||0.004||-0.088||-0.9||8||0|
|Hunter Pence RF||4||1||0||0||0||2||.154||.406||16||10||0.130||0.84||0.154||-0.024||0.8||2||0|
|Brandon Belt 1B||3||0||0||0||1||2||.148||.443||18||11||-0.083||0.54||0.002||-0.085||-0.8||8||0||SB|
|Gregor Blanco LF||2||1||0||0||2||1||.207||.757||17||8||0.056||0.77||0.062||-0.006||0.2||2||0|
|Brandon Crawford SS||4||0||1||2||0||2||.214||.634||14||11||0.133||1.17||0.174||-0.041||1.1||1||2|
|Barry Zito P||2||0||1||1||0||1||.333||.667||6||6||0.034||0.83||0.058||-0.024||0.5||0||1||SH|
|Santiago Casilla P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.000||0.00||0.000||0.000||0.0||0||0|
|Aubrey Huff PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||.143||.393||4||3||-0.001||0.02||0.000||-0.001||-0.1|
|Sergio Romo P||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||0.000||0.00||0.000||0.000||0.0||0||0|
St. Louis Cardinals
|Jon Jay CF||4||0||1||0||0||0||.200||.512||15||10||-0.045||0.57||0.008||-0.052||-0.3||1||0|
|Carlos Beltran RF||4||0||1||0||0||1||.382||1.258||20||13||-0.009||0.71||0.034||-0.043||-0.3||1||0||SB|
|Matt Holliday LF||4||0||0||0||0||3||.222||.597||23||14||-0.054||0.56||0.000||-0.054||-0.7||1||0|
|Allen Craig 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||.256||.784||18||11||0.006||0.57||0.048||-0.042||-0.0||8||0||2B|
|Yadier Molina C||4||0||2||0||0||0||.220||.563||12||8||0.006||0.58||0.042||-0.036||0.3||12||1|
|David Freese 3B||4||0||1||0||0||1||.325||.889||12||8||0.055||0.79||0.110||-0.055||0.1||1||1||2B|
|Daniel Descalso 2B||4||0||1||0||0||1||.250||.729||17||11||-0.073||0.66||0.008||-0.081||-1.1||3||3|
|Pete Kozma SS||2||0||0||0||1||1||.222||.725||14||7||-0.020||0.93||0.010||-0.030||-0.3||0||3||IW|
|Lance Lynn P||1||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.333||2||2||-0.153||2.72||0.000||-0.153||-1.5||0||0||GDP|
|Joe Kelly P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.000||0.00||0.000||0.000||0.0||0||0|
|Shane Robinson PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.143||5||3||-0.011||0.46||0.000||-0.011||-0.1|
|Trevor Rosenthal P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.000||0.00||0.000||0.000||0.0||0||0|
|Mitchell Boggs P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.000||0.00||0.000||0.000||0.0||0||0|
|Skip Schumaker PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||.000||.000||5||3||-0.007||0.29||0.000||-0.007||-0.2|
|Edward Mujica P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.000||0.00||0.000||0.000||0.0||0||0|
San Francisco Giants
|Lance Lynn, L (1-2)||3.2||4||4||0||2||6||0||5.73||18||66||43||22||7||14||7||3||2||0||49||-0.238||1.36||-2.6|
|San Francisco Giants||St. Louis Cardinals|
|1||Angel Pagan||CF||1||Jon Jay||CF|
|2||Marco Scutaro||2B||2||Carlos Beltran||RF|
|3||Pablo Sandoval||3B||3||Matt Holliday||LF|
|4||Buster Posey||C||4||Allen Craig||1B|
|5||Hunter Pence||RF||5||Yadier Molina||C|
|6||Brandon Belt||1B||6||David Freese||3B|
|7||Gregor Blanco||LF||7||Daniel Descalso||2B|
|8||Brandon Crawford||SS||8||Pete Kozma||SS|
|9||Barry Zito||P||9||Lance Lynn||P|