SAN FRANCISCO — They got 'em right where they want 'em.
As much as the St. Louis Cardinals have developed a never-say-die reputation the past two seasons, the San Francisco Giants also have come up with winning performances on elimination's doorstep during these playoffs. On Sunday night in Game 6 of the NLCS, the Giants again play on the verge of the offseason.
In the division series round against the Reds, the Giants dropped the first two games at home and went to extra innings to win Game 3 before stunning the Reds with a first-of-its-kind comeback. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong said that turnaround, plus a few other times, most people considered the Giants a lost cause.
"Everyone counted us out four or five times this year already," Vogelsong said in advance of his start in Game 6. "First when [closer Brian] Wilson went down. People said we couldn't do it. Then we lost Melky [Cabrera], unfortunately. People said we couldn't do it. The Dodgers made the big trade [for Adrian Gonzalez]. People said we weren't going to do it. We go down two games to Cincinnati, they said we're not going to do it."
He makes some pretty good points, though the Giants always seemed to have enough relievers to cover Wilson's loss. But losing Cabrera to the drug suspension, and the Dodgers adding Gonzalez and Josh Beckett without losing much active talent in return, seemed to make moments for the Giants demise. It just didn't happen. Just as it didn't against the Reds, and in Game 5 against the Cardinals with Barry Zito going. Rather than succumbing to "the inevitable," the Giants used those moments as rallying points.
"I think it's the perseverance through the whole season is where we draw the confidence that until it's not over until the last out is made," Vogelsong said. "I don't think the intensity with our team is any different. I think we play the game hard every day. You win some, you lose some. But when you can't lose, I think we definitely do play a little bit harder."
And they get (at least) at least 27 more outs until their last comes in 2012. After staving off the Cardinals for one night, they get a bit of a reward: The Giants return home to AT&T Park. Of course, they have played only .500 ball here since mid-July. But what's one more obstacle to overcome? Well, two. Chris Carpenter and his 2.94 career ERA in the postseason is another.
"You know what's at stake," manager Bruce Bochy said. "And they're handling it well. Both clubs have been in a similar situation. It's about going out there and playing like there's no tomorrow."
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