SAN FRANCISCO - These baseball playoffs may have many more miracles in store, but the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals might have used all of theirs up.
Attempting to determine just who had a more miraculous finish in their respective National League Division Series is like comparing apples to oranges.
It’s a matter of taste and team allegiance.
Despite the fact that I was in chilly Washington and witnessed first hand the gut job that the Cardinals pulled on the Nationals in Friday’s Game 5, I still have to give my nod to the Giants in the NL Championship Series.
San Francisco winning three consecutive games on the road after losing the opening two at home against the Cincinnati Reds has to rank up there with turning water into wine.
Meanwhile, a day after losing Game 4 on a Jayson Werth walk-off home run in the ninth inning, the Cardinals found themselves trailing 6-0 after the third in Game 5.
By the time the Cardinals came to bat in the top of the ninth, they were still trailing by two runs. Later in that fateful inning, they were two runs down with two out and a runner on third.
On five different occasions the Cardinals were within one strike of losing the game but managed two walks and a pair of two-run singles to score four runs and eliminate the Nationals.
Momentum is supposed to be a big deal in sports, but there is no clear winner between the Giants and Cardinals in that regard entering Sunday night’s opening game in their best-of-seven NLCS.
When asked about it, Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided to sit on the fence and declared both teams winners.
“Well, it’s impressive what the Cardinals did,” Bochy said. “And really, if you look at the game we had and the game they had, they were similar. We were up 6-0, barely hung on, and they found a way to get it done. Both clubs at some point had their backs against the wall. We had to win three straight and they’re down a couple of runs in the ninth. They found a way to get it done.
“I think it says a lot about the two clubs, the character of the clubs and how hard they fight, and it should be a really hard-fought series here.”
Pulling a rabbit or two out of a hat has been the modus operandi of the Cardinals both this season and the previous one when they ended up as the World Series winner.
Saturday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was asked if he thought, given some time to reflect, if his team’s victory in Game 5 against Washington was any more or less improbable.
“You know, on our flight, we were able to catch some ESPN, so a lot of highlights came through, and watched the same thing multiple times and really was still kind of taken aback,” he said. “I’m going to have to watch that game over again. It still hasn’t really sunk in, at least to the extent of what these guys did. The bats they put together, the innings that the bullpen threw, I mean, it was one that goes into a category like I’ve never seen before personally or been that closely a part of.
“So it really hasn’t sunk in, but that day will come. Right now we can’t spend too much time on that, we need to get ready for the next one.”
Matheny certainly knows how tough the job was for the Giants to come back on the road in Cincinnati.
“Yeah, that’s a tough ballpark (in which) to win,” he said. “We saw plenty of Cincinnati this year, and they have a good team. And for this club (the Giants) to be down like they were and go into Cincinnati and take care of business is something I know that they’re very proud of and should be, because it’s not an easy task.”
So far it’s been pretty much tit-for-tat as far as miracle finishes go.
“We have a lot of respect for Bruce and the Giants and this club and what they have,” Matheny added. “And they have all the components you need for winning baseball, with the pitching and defence and offence that can run up some scores. So we understand that.
“But we’re also very quick to look in the mirror and realize that we’ve got a pretty good club, too.”
It figures to be a pretty good series.
Who knows, maybe it will be one where more miracles occur.