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Thursday, October 11, 2012
Giants win in spite of their numbers

By Mark Simon

How did the San Francisco Giants come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the NLDS over the Cincinnati Reds?

Their win was pretty amazing considering that their .194 batting average was the second-worst of any team to win a Division series in the Wild Card Era.

The Giants became the first team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-5 series by winning three straight road games.

They became the first team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-5 since the 2003 Boston Red Sox won three straight against the Oakland Athletics.

They won because the bats woke up …
In the first three games of the series, the Giants totaled four runs and had a .394 OPS. In the last two games of the series, they scored 14 runs and had an .895 OPS.

The Giants didn’t get a lot of hits, but they got timely ones, like Buster Posey’s grand slam that extended a 2-0 lead to 6-0 in Game 5.

Posey became the third catcher to hit a grand slam in a postseason game, joining Yogi Berra (1956 Yankees) and Eddie Perez (1998 Braves)

He became the fourth player to hit a grand slam in a postseason winner-take-all game, joining Moose Skowron (1956 Yankees), Troy O’Leary (1999 Red Sox) and Johnny Damon (2004 Red Sox).

It was the third postseason grand slam in Giants history. The other two were by Chuck Hiller in 1962 and Will Clark in 1989.

The Giants were 0-for-12 with six strikeouts with runners in scoring position in the first three games and 5-for-15 with two homers in Games 4 and 5.

They won because the Reds failed to take advantage …
The Reds had the tying run at the plate in each of the last four innings on Thursday, but failed to come through.

They went 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the last three games of the series.

Reds hitters were a little overeager.

They swung at only five pitches out of 30 thrown out of the strike zone with a runner in scoring position in the first two games of the series (17 percent).

But in the last three games of the series, they took 27 swings on the 69 pitches that were thrown out of the strike zone to them with a runner in scoring position (39 percent).

It was a tough way for the Reds to end their season. They hadn't lost three straight home games at all in 2012, but did so to close out the NLDS.

They won with defense
Baseball Info Solutions, which categorizes defense into more than 30 categories of "Good Fielding Plays" had the Reds with 17 Good Fielding Plays and the Giants with 12 in the first four games of this series.

But in Game 5, the Giants outdid the Reds in Good Fielding Plays by a 5-1 count. Chief among them were catches by shortstop Brandon Crawford and Angel Pagan to help preserve the lead in the eighth inning.

Difference Maker
The biggest difference maker in this series was Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, who with six strikeouts in relief in Game 4 broke Christy Mathewson’s Giants franchise record of 48 career postseason strikeouts. Lincecum now has 51 and counting.

Stat of the Series
In their entire history -- New York and San Francisco -- the Giants have faced elimination in 19 different postseason series (meaning the other team was one win away from winning the series at any point).

This is just the second time in 19 series that the Giants have won a series in which they faced elimination. They trailed the Braves 2-games-to-1 in the 2002 NLDS and won Games 4 and 5 to advance. They advanced to the World Series, losing to the Angels in seven games.

The Giants also became the first NL team to rally from a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-5 series since the first year of the Wild Card, 1995.