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CINNATI -- Stunned, ecstatic and soaked with champagne, the San Francisco Giants capped an improbable National League Division Series win over the Cincinnati Reds with a celebration almost as intense as the game they just played -- a 6-4 Game 5 win on Thursday.
It's difficult to calculate just how many bottles of champagne were dumped over the heads of Giants players and coaches (and wives and front office members), but mathematically speaking, the number of people involved with the Giants organization who were not soaked in bubbly amounts to approximately zero.
In a locker room void of furniture and covered in dozens of reams of plastic, the party was on. The celebration itself was pretty typical of a postgame party following a clincher -- lots of hugging, laughing and guzzling.
Reporters scurried about the clubhouse in an attempt to score interviews while staying dry. Meanwhile, the players did their best to put into words exactly what all of this meant, beginning with the seemingly impossible odds for a comeback.
"We believed we could win this series from the get go," closer Sergio Romo said. "Yeah, we were down, but we were never really out of it. Our emotions, our feeling, our attitude, we never hung our heads. We battled. We stuck together."
In another corner of the clubhouse, outfielder Angel Pagan explained that he was losing his voice because of the non-stop screaming he started up in the eighth inning.
"This is something that nobody believed we could do, but we always did," he said, just before several teammates ran over to him and dumped a full bin of ice water over his head. "That's the most important thing, that we always knew we could do it. That was our mentality coming to Cincinnati from the first game here. We were hungry. We were trying to win one game at a time. We got it done, and that was very important."
If the Giants players didn't know before they made history with this series win, they were reminded of it over and over again during the celebration. Since the inception of the Wild Card into the playoffs in 1995, no National League team had ever recovered from an 0-2 Division Series deficit to win it. It had happened four times in the American League, but NL teams were 0-21 in their attempts.
"We knew the odds weren't in our favor," reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "We understand we also play very well on the road and they play really well at home. We knew it was going to be a battle."
That was never truer than in the ninth inning. Down by three, the Reds had runners on first and second and Jay Bruce at the plate, facing Romo. Bruce saw 12 pitches in that at-bat and fouled off eight of them, before flying out to left field.
After that confrontation, the Giants felt better about their chances to close it out.
"I couldn't let them down," Romo said. "I had it in my head, 'Not against me.' I was thinking about my teammates."
Said Affeldt: "That's what makes the game good. I'm glad we ended up on the right side of the stick on that one. Romo can have a lot of respect for that team over there, but he can have a lot of respect for himself too. That's a battle you will always say, 'I'll remember that for the rest of my life.'"
Pence, whom many teammates credit with the turnaround because of his motivational speeches and pregame dugout pep rallies, was the target of massive amounts of champagne, ice water and other unidentified liquids. In between dousings, he tried to put in perspective the difference in attitude between the first two games of this series and the last three.
"Before, we kind of went out there and, sometimes in the playoffs, there's so much adrenaline, you try to do too much," he said. "I feel like the first two games happened really quick. The Reds played really good. We needed to unite. It was a tough situation we were facing."
In addition to being the only NL team in history to come back from 0-2, this series marks only the second time in history a road team has won every game of a series. Texas and Tampa Bay did so in 2010, with Texas winning.
Four days ago, the Giants, listless at the plate without enough fire power from the pitching staff, didn't look poised to make history. But while everyone peripherally may have counted them out, they knew they had enough to finish it off.
"It's more important because we did it together," Romo said. "There's not one guy that stood out more than the other. Everybody pitched in one way or the other. Everyone came in, ready and willing. Think about it -- we battled all year long, ups and downs and injuries. This is a culmination of everything up to this point. We still have plenty of work to do. These guys are awesome. I'm real proud of them."