Ishikawa, Giants end NLCS with 6-3 walk-off win over Cards, will face Royals in World Series
The Giants and Cardinals entered Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in a bit of a role reversal. San Francisco led, 3-1, the opposite of the 2012 NLCS, when St. Louis was a game away from the World Series at this point. Of course, the Cards scored one run over the next three games, and the Giants went on to play in and win the Fall Classic. Only time would tell if the 2014 edition yielded anything similar.
Game 5 was a battle of aces. San Fran lefty Madison Bumgarner, who has consistently dominated this month, took the hill against St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright, who had been largely ineffective in two postseason starts. It was a rematch of Game 1 (a 3-0 Giants win).
The signs that Bumgarner might be a bit off his game came early. He allowed four hard-hit balls in the first inning, though two were right at infielders and one turned into a double play. Jhonny Peralta's line drive found Pablo Sandoval's glove:
Jon Jay put St. Louis on top, 1-0, in the third with an RBI double. This, too, might have found a San Francisco glove had left fielder Travis Ishikawa -- a converted first baseman -- gotten a better read:
Rookie Joe Panik gave the Giants a 2-1 lead with two outs in the bottom of the third. He got ahold of a 1-0 Wainwright cutter inside and blasted it over the wall in right:
Looks to me like Panik hit that home run with a sense of poise and rationality? #amirite- Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) October 17, 2014
A pair of St. Louis long balls promptly re-gave the visitors a lead in the fourth. Matt Adams went deep to right to lead off, and Tony Cruz followed suit with a blast to left three batters later:
It stayed that way until the eighth, thanks in large part to a typically sharp outing from Bumgarner and a bounce-back effort from Wainwright. Then, in the first San Francisco at-bat against a pitcher not named Wainwright, the Giants tied it. Michael Morse came off the bench for a pinch-hit homer to left:
After a top of the ninth that featured the Cardinals loading the bases and the Giants escaping the jam, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny opted to give the ball to Michael Wacha for the first time since Sept. 26. San Fran had two on with one out when Ishikawa stepped to the plate. He homered on a 2-0 fastball to give the Giants a walk-off 6-3 win.
The Giants won the pennant:
The Game Changer
The Giants were in trouble in the top of the ninth when manager Bruce Bochy made a gutsy move: taking out his closer, Santiago Casilla, in favor of lefty Jeremy Affeldt.
This was Casilla's third consecutive day pitching, and he'd already thrown 17 pitches as the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs. Pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras readied to step to the plate, so Bochy opted for the fresh arm and lefty-on-lefty matchup.
It worked. Taveras sent a tapper back to Affeldt, who ran it over to first base himself:
Other Key Players, Plays
You know how St. Louis balls found San Francisco gloves early? This was kind of like that, but more a product of hustle than luck. Center fielder Gregor Blanco robbed Matt Holliday of a hit in the fifth with a pretty sliding catch:
It helped add up to a Bumgarner outing that continued his very, very good month. He lasted eight innings, scattering five hits and two walks while allowing three runs.
Bumgarner earned NLCS MVP honors for his efforts (15 2/3 innings, three runs):
It doesn't mean much now that the Cardinals are eliminated, but Wainwright had an impressive return to form during his seven innings of two-run ball. Five of his seven strikeouts come on his curve. Three of them came in the sixth:
Wainwright's last out was one of his most impressive. He made a first-baseman-like stretch to finish a play made possible by Adams' diving stop:
Waino at 97 pitches. I'd think it'd be tempting to try to get one more inning out of him, save Neshek for 9th. But that's outside the box.- Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) October 17, 2014
The Cardinals' many pinch-hitters and defensive substitutions in the late innings meant Jay played one inning in left field (and the rest in center). But in that one inning he made this nifty grab on Blanco's almost-hit:
The Giants' funambulation in the ninth -- which ended when Affeldt got Taveras to ground out -- included this Kolten Wong ground ball. It tipped off Sandoval's glove to Brandon Crawford at short and was nearly a double play. Instead, it was just the ol' 5-6-4 forceout at second:
It's going to be a Bob Tufts World Series. Royals vs. Giants. #Yostseason vs. #EvenYear. AL Wild Card vs. NL Wild Card. An organization playing in its first World Series in 29 years vs. an organization playing in its first World Series in, uh, two years.
The Giants will have several days off before heading to Kansas City for Game 1, which is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. Teams haven't announced their starting pitchers yet, but given the time off, Bumgarner and Kansas City ace James Shields could go on regular-or-more rest.