What did you expect?On the last day of the regular season, in an even-numbered year, there was Sergio Romo at AT&T Field on Sunday, nailing down the final out in a game the Giants had to win.To be exact, the fourth game in a row that they had to win.This
What did you expect?
On the last day of the regular season, in an even-numbered year, there was Sergio Romo at AT&T Field on Sunday, nailing down the final out in a game the Giants had to win.
To be exact, the fourth game in a row that they had to win.
This is a tough, tough team, and it reminded us once again that DNA matters.
Compared to Saturday, when rookie left-hander Ty Blach beat Clayton Kershaw, the 7-1 victory over the Dodgers on the final day of the season was run-of-the-mill stuff. Denard Span and Buster Posey came out swinging the bat against Kenta Maeda, and the Giants never really let fans in St. Louis get excited about the chance at a Monday tiebreaker.
:: NL Wild Card: Giants vs. Mets coverage ::This was vintage Giants in the Bruce Bochy era, doing exactly what the job required. The four wins against the Rockies and Dodgers to finish off the season were a whole lot like the four over the Rockies and D-backs to end the first half.
Those ones in July gave Posey and his teammates a 57-33 record, the best in the Major Leagues. Things haven't gone nearly as well since the All-Star Game, but what does that really mean?
The Giants have to go to Citi Field to play the Mets in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday -- just like they had to go to Pittsburgh after winning one of the NL's two Wild Card spots in 2014. Being a Wild Card team didn't stop those Giants from rolling through the Pirates, Nationals, Cardinals and Royals as they won a third World Series championship in five years.
How about four in seven years? You know that's what Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Posey, Romo and the rest of the Giants are thinking.
Things were ugly in late July and August, when Hunter Pence, Ángel Pagán and Joe Panik were sidelined with injuries. You'd be silly to judge the Giants by the 22-38 stretch from the All-Star break through Sept. 19.
Johnny Cueto and San Francisco's improvised bullpen earned a shutout at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 20 -- the first of four saves by Romo, who remembered where he'd left his swagger -- and the Giants were on their way to winning eight of their last 12. That was just enough to end a run of five consecutive postseason appearances for the Cardinals, who were decimated by pitching injuries.
So here are the Giants (again), and you have to wonder: Do they have the NL right where they want it?
This isn't a team that you see coming. But it is one that runs over you. Just ask the Rangers, Tigers and Royals, who combined to go 4-12 against the Giants in World Series games.
Here's a frightening reality for the Mets and then the 103-win Cubs, who are in line to host the Wild Card Game winner in the National League Division Series:
The Giants are probably healthier -- maybe also deeper -- right now than they were they rolled through the postseason in 2010, '12 and '14.
Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans invested $220 million in Cueto and Jeff Samardzija last winter, then they prioritized the starting rotation over the bullpen at midseason. That meant a trade for Matt Moore, the Tampa Bay lefty who on Sunday delivered eight strong innings to beat the Dodgers.
Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74 ERA in 226 2/3 innings) will face the Mets' Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday night in New York.
What a great matchup. It's the exact kind of showdown that Major League Baseball envisioned for the one-game Wild Card showdown when the game was added to the rich October landscape in 2012.
It would be a shock if the Cubs admitted to a rooting interest between these teams. They respect both of them, and with good reason. While the Giants have the long October pedigree, the Mets swept the Cubs in the NL Championship Series last year. Either team could create a nightmare for a franchise looking to win its first World Series championship in 108 years.
The Mets swept a four-game series at Citi Field against the Cubs June 30-July 3, and overall have won their last six home games against the Cubs. But it's the Giants who pose the biggest threat to the Cubs on paper, in large part because their starting rotation is four deep.
Terry Collins has leaned heavily on Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon as injuries claimed three-fourths of his 2015 postseason rotation (Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz). But the Giants' rotation is at least as deep now than it's been all season.
Let's say Bumgarner beats Syndergaard on Wednesday. The Giants then would go with Cueto and Samardzija (the old Cub) in Games 1 and 2 at Wrigley Field, and have Bumgarner fully rested for Game 3 when the series moves to San Francisco.
Imagine the anxiety in Chicago about facing Bumgarner if the Giants split the two games at Wrigley Field. It would be off the charts.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. That would be silly. The matchup that matters now is Bumgarner vs. Syndergaard -- ol' blood and guts against the kid with the slider from Hades.
The Giants had to win their last four games to get this chance.
They're invested. They're involved. They're dangerous.
Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com.