CHICAGO Pat Burrell was one of two Giants advance scoutsbreaking down the other NL Division Series.
But the Giants had many, many more eyes on the St. LouisCardinals and Washington Nationals as those two talented clubs played a ridiculouslyentertaining Game 5 Friday night. The Giants checked out of their rooms attheir hotel in Cincinnati and gathered together in a ballroom to watch thegame.
They boarded their bus before it was over, probablyconvinced their chartered jet would point east toward Washington for Game 1.But the Cardinals wiped out a 6-0 deficit, came back from two runs down despitebeing down to their final strike, and pulled out an incredible 9-7 victory toadvance.
The Giants were sitting on the plane to watch it end,according to right-hander George Kontos. Manager Bruce Bochy wanted to be ableto take off as soon as the computer could load a flight plan.
What a nail biterrrrr, Kontos posted to his Twitteraccount.
Stunningly, the Giants are coming home. Game 1 will beSunday at 5 p.m. at AT&T Park.
The Giants have a lot of decisions to make on the pitchingend, but theyve announced itll be Madison Bumgarner in Game 1 and RyanVogelsong in Game 2.
The Cardinals would appear to have Jaime Garcia and ChrisCarpenter in the first two games.
Matt Cain, almost certainly, will be the Giants Game 3pitcher lining him up to go in Game 7, too. The same will be true for KyleLohse, who had a tremendous season for the Cardinals.
I have to believe Tim Lincecum would start Game 4, unlessBochy decides he was so valuable as a long-relief tourniquet that he wants tostart the series with Timmy in that role.
We could ruminate on playoff roster decisions and the uniquechallenges the Cardinals present . But thats what tomorrows workout day isfor.
In the 24 hours since the Giants launched their ownincredible comeback to sink the Cincinnati Reds, Ive thought a bit on theCards and Nats and wondered which would be a tougher opponent in a best-of-7NLCS.
My first impulse was to say the Giants would be better offfacing St. Louis.
For one, the Giants would get to go home, and havehome-field advantage. Yes, yes, theyve been amazing on the road. But thosethree games in Cincy had to be physically and mentally exhausting. It would be tough to expect them tokeep playing at that same level for two more games in Washington.
For another, the Nationals really thumped the Giants thisseason. A heat wave in Washington sapped them in one series and the MelkyCabrera suspension concussed them in another, but I do think it was such alopsided series that maybe the Nats couldve gotten in the Giants domes alittle bit.
But then I watched the Cardinals Game 5 comeback. Every guyin that lineup works you, grinds you for every pitch. Drew Storen came so, soclose to getting out of that ninth inning when David Freese checked his swingon a two-strike pitch. But he held up, and the level of discipline that the Cardinalsshowed in that ninth inning was one of the most amazing things Ive seen.
Plus, Carlos Beltran is just on fire right now.
It wont be easy for the Giants. Then again, it never is.
Oh, and finally youve got the last two World Serieschampions meeting in an LCS. How often does that happen?