Staring down elimination nothing new for Giants

SF looks to extend mark to 10-0 with season on line since 2012

October 9th, 2016

CHICAGO -- They know what you're thinking, and they don't care.

The Giants are down but hardly dead in the National League Division Series after dropping two games to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They struggled to score runs against the best pitching staff in the Major Leagues in Games 1 and 2, twice allowing to come in and add exclamation points in front of noisy, ecstatic fans.

Now San Francisco has no margin for error in the best-of-five series. So it's time for the Giants to do what they do -- win when the odds are stacked the highest against them. Game 3 is to be played at AT&T Park on Monday night (9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT, FS1).

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"Obviously tonight it stings a little bit,'' second baseman said after the Cubs' 5-2 victory in Game 2 on Saturday. "But tomorrow's a new day. That's the way this club has always approached things, even in the second half of this season when things weren't going so well for us.

"We keep plugging along, because tomorrow's a new day. We'll clear our head at the workout and get ready for Monday.''

Oh, Monday.

Following a day of travel and some needed rest, the Giants have going for them in Game 3. One other thing: They are, well, the Giants.

"We feel confident with Bum on the mound,'' said. "It's a group of guys that have been through a lot of elimination games. We'll go play it."

This is a team that has won three World Series since 2010 and is 9-0 in elimination games since 2012.

Looking back, the Giants' run to the World Series in 2010 was a piece of cake. They rode , and the 21-year-old version of Bumgarner to wins over the Braves, Phillies and Rangers. They needed only 15 games to win 11.

The high-wire acts began in 2012. The Giants recovered from a 2-0 deficit to the Reds in the NLDS and a 3-1 deficit to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series that season.

Perhaps hardened by that experience, they won the Wild Card Game over the Pirates in 2014 and the Mets this year. They also found a way to win Game 7 of the '14 World Series in Kansas City after losing, 10-0, in Game 6.

What's another 2-0 hole, even if it is against the team that led the Major Leagues in victories?

"It's tough to lose two here, but it's a case that we have been down this road before,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's never easy with us. We were hoping to get one here, but now we go home and you keep fighting. That's all you can do.''

Former Cub was bitterly disappointed about giving up four runs in two innings and leaving with a 4-0 deficit in Game 2, but he will do everything he can to get another chance to contribute in the series. He's in his first season in San Francisco but believes the atmosphere created by Bochy, Posey, Bumgarner, and the old hands in the bullpen will give the Giants a chance to win twice at AT&T and force Game 5 back at Wrigley Field on Thursday.

"Everyone's even keel,'' Samardzija said. "They don't get too high, don't get too low. I think everybody goes out and prepares the same way every day. They have a goal, something they want to do, and they don't waver from it. Good or bad, different things happen throughout games. If you let the last one affect you today, it's probably going to get in your way. These guys come out, they've been there before, they know how to win, and they do it every day.''

Preparation, of course, cuts two ways.

While the Cubs are trying to end a World Series drought that extends to 1908, they've never operated like they are operating under the direction of Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein. They have taken their level of preparation to the highest level, and it shows in how , and their relievers have pitched in the 5-2 and 1-0 victories.

San Francisco, which rode 's three-run homer off to the Wild Card Game win, has sent 102 batters to the plate in its three postseason games, with only three trips producing runs.

"We do need to get this offense going a little bit,'' Bochy said. "I do think we had some good at-bats early [Saturday]. Guys were doing a pretty good job there, but Jeff was just off a little bit tonight.''

An line drive to the mound forced Hendricks out of the game in the fourth inning, but that doesn't seem likely to impact the Cubs' long-term health. X-rays on Hendricks' right forearm were negative and Hendricks seemed in good spirits afterward, saying he hopes to be only "day to day.''

It certainly didn't impact this game as five relievers combined to throw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. , who replaced Hendricks, even blasted a ball into the bleachers in left-center, becoming the first reliever to hit a postseason home run since 1924.

The Cubs have , the 2015 Cy Young Award winner, lined up to face Bumgarner in a game that could give them a sweep. The situation is about as dark as it could get for the Giants.

Maybe this time they've met their match. But they've got Bumgarner and they've got history, and that means they've still got a chance. Draw your conclusions carefully.