Buster Posey

Giants fans have been accustomed to Buster Posey’s theatrics all season long. The probable National League MVP hit a league leading .336 (thanks Melky Cabrera) with twenty four home runs and seemingly a big hit in every important game. Yet, in the postseason through four games, Posey’s swing looked tired. He hit a home run on a hanging breaking ball off Mat Latos in the game one. But other than that, he had only two singles, though, one of which started the winning rally in game three. But there were few Buster moments … until game five.

Posey would get only one hit in game five, but it would be the biggest of the entire series.

Mat Latos and Matt Cain traded scoreless innings through four. The Giants struck first in the top of the 5th. Latos gave up a single to Gregor Blanco before Brandon Crawford tripled him in for the first run of the game. After Cain grounded out, Angel Pagan reached on an error by Reds’ shortstop Zach Cozart, scoring Crawford. Marco Scutaro would walk and Pablo Sandoval singled to load the bases. That brought up Posey.

Posey looked at two balls while fouling off one and swinging through one to bring the count to 2-2. Latos’ next fastball caught just too much of the plate and Posey crushed it. It was a no doubter. The grand slam increased the Giants lead to 6-0 and they’d nearly need all of them.

The Reds chipped away at the lead scoring two runs in the the fifth, one in the sixth and one in the 9th. Jay Bruce fouled off eight Romo pitches before flying out and Scott Rolen struck out to end the ball game.

The Reds staked a 2-0 lead in the series, but it wasn’t enough as the Giants became the first team in a divisional series to be down 2-0 and win three in a row to win the series. And they did it in Cincinnati.

I’ve written enough about these past five games and will write a lot about the upcoming NLCS against either Washington or St. Louis. I’ll let my Heat Check crew finish this off with their thoughts on the Giants’ comeback.

@themarywalton: It was a dark and stormy night … at least it felt that way sitting in my seats at AT&T Park, watching the Giants get beat down in a brutal 9-0 loss in game two of the NLDS. After some heavy drinking and a good night’s sleep, I did my best to muster hope in my very pragmatic mind. Hungover, I let off some steam on the golf course with my brother. “They’ve been kicking ass on the road,” I said. “Their bats will wake up,” I cried. “If we force a game five we can do it,” I urged. I just kept repeating, “It has been a year of firsts! We can make HISTORY!”

But I could not lie to myself. The odds were stacked against us. As hopeful as I wanted to be, I had my reservations. Cincinnati made fools of us in our own house. Could we recover?

After a gutsy game three performance, my hope-a-meter began to rise. And once we tied up the series, I knew FOR CERTAIN we would not go down without a fight. But in all seriousness, I have never been as nervous as I was today (now yesterday). Not even game six or seven of the 2002 World Series. I was defeated then. Today, I was only tortured. And we all remember how good that can feel. VIVA LOS GIGANTES!

@RealStephenMar: I’ll admit I was really down on this team after the weekend games because my biggest fear heading into the postseason was the lack of consistent hitting. Even in the game three win, the Giants were no-hit for over half the game and won because of a bad fielding play by Scott Rolen. Once the error cost the Reds the game, I had an inkling that was the spark needed to wake the Giants up and win the next two games. The offense totally surprised me even though they played at a hitters’ park. I didn’t expect all the homers and extra base hits. And I’ll tip my cap to Bochy. I’ve been so critical of his in-game management, but he was perfect in the 2010 playoffs and this NLDS. Bochy had the right frame of mind to pull Zito right away after his erratic start and to trust Lincecum to reduce any potential high leverage situations. People who know me know that I don’t care for pitcher’s win/loss records but Lincecum “earned” that win in game four. Of course, there are no MVPs for the Divisional Series, but Lincecum would have gotten it if there was one given. And how great is it to see the bottom of the lineup having key parts in scoring runs?

This feels like 2010 all over again, but with more reliance on the bullpen. It’s weird that I only trust Bochy when it comes to the postseason. Bring on the Cards or Nationals. Either way it’ll be a great NLCS. At this point, I’d keep the starting three and have Zito on a short leash as the fourth pitcher with Lincecum coming out of the bullpen. Everything is working, so there’s no need to make major adjustments. But, the one thing I would do is dump Aubrey Huff and have Melky Cabrera be a bench player. He’s better than Huff even at this point and if it’s a chemistry issue, to quote The Rock, he should, “Know your role and SHUT YOUR MOUTH!”

@DRey2531: Coming back from a 2-0 deficit was amazing. The team and fans had to keep believing that they would win the series all the way up until the last pitch. Monday was probably the worst day of the entire season because there was nothing anyone could do but sit and wait. Tuesday didn’t start well since the Reds got on the board first. Even when the game was tied, you could tell that some fans gave up on Twitter like we were done. After we won, everyone knew that it only meant we got to play another day.

Zito starting wouldn’t have been my choice but as a fan, I decided I was going to believe in the decisions that Bochy would make. Zito starting didn’t hurt us and actually helped bring back the old Lincecum. Today (now yesterday), everyone had to go in with the same attitude that they’ve had for the past two days. I was glad that the Giants got on the scoreboard first, but I knew we would need more. Posey’s grand slam was huge and looked like it was the knockout blow. However, with so much game left I knew the Reds would battle back. The Reds often mirrored the Giants most of the year and their offense could’ve woken up like ours did. The Reds kept fighting all the way until the last pitch.

I think this team does have what it takes to go all the way. They just need to believe.

@ButchHusky: In the moments after Buster Posey’s grand slam clanked off the scoreboard displaying Mat Latos’ pitch count on the facing of the second deck at Great American Ballpark, as I rose from my knees where I’d been pounding the floor with my fists, took a deep breath, and returned to a seated position at my desk, I knew Game 5 was going to be torture.

Over next four and a half innings, as the Reds returned fire in a desperate attempt to cling to their postseason lives, putting the tying run on base every time up from the 6th inning on, visions of 2002 danced in my head. We all thought Bonds’ gargantuan shot into the night had sealed the deal for us. No one expected the speed and surgical precision of our eventual demise. No one but the cynics, anyway. And when the dagger came from Troy Glaus, we all died a little bit deep down in our baseball-loving souls.

So there are no words adequate enough to describe the joy of Brandon Crawford’s diving stab, Buster’s “Ain’t Havin’ It” double play, Angel Pagan’s sprawling grab, and Sergio Romo’s patented hanging slider narrowly escaping Scott Rolen’s bat. It was such a juicy pitch, I thought it would end up in the seats. Instead, it lifted our Giants back to the NLCS.

And I’m still shaking.

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