The San Francisco Giants’ group of “castoffs and misfits” heads to the World Series against the Texas Rangers after ending the Philadelphia Phillies’ two-year reign as National League champions.
Juan Uribe hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to help the Giants beat the Phillies 3-2 last night at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park and win the best-of-seven NL Championship Series four games to two.
The Giants held the Phillies scoreless over the final eight innings to return to the World Series for the first time since 2002. While the Rangers haven’t won a World Series in their 50-year history, the Giants last won Major League Baseball’s championship in 1954, four years before they moved to San Francisco from New York.
“We fought, we scratched, we clawed -- I don’t know how we did it, but we did it,” said Giants outfielder Pat Burrell, who played for the Phillies’ World Series championship team in 2008. “We’re going to enjoy this for a while and we’ll be ready to go Wednesday.”
The World Series begins Oct. 27 in San Francisco. The Giants will likely start two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Tim Lincecum in Game 1 against the Rangers’ Cliff Lee, who has a 7-0 career postseason record.
The Giants denied the Phillies a third straight trip to the World Series one day after the Rangers eliminated the defending-champion New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, also in six games.
The Phillies entered the postseason as World Series favorites among Las Vegas oddsmakers and the Yankees were the second choice. The Giants were the fourth choice among the eight playoff teams at 8-1, followed by the Rangers at 10-1.
“Not bad for a bunch of castoffs and misfits,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said during last night’s postgame celebration. “It just goes to show you what happens when you get a group of guys that are all trying to accomplish the same thing and playing with a lot of heart.”
The Giants were in first place in the NL West Division for only 37 days during the regular season, the fewest of any team this postseason. Their strength is a pitching staff that led the majors in Earned Run Average and strikeouts while holding opposing hitters to a major-league low .236 batting average.
Five pitchers combined to hold the Phillies scoreless last night after starter Jonathan Sanchez gave up two first-inning runs and was taken from the game in the third. Brian Wilson got the final five outs for his third save in the series and struck out Ryan Howard to end the game with two runners on base.
Howard Shut Down
Howard, who was fourth in the NL with 108 runs batted in during the regular season, didn’t have any RBI for the Phillies during the postseason.
“The whole world just saw how we won games all year long,” Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said in a televised interview. “We don’t hammer people into submission, we just get great pitching.”
Huff, who has played for five major league teams, drove in the Giants’ first run with a single in the top of the third inning and scored the tying run on a throwing error by Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco.
The benches cleared in the bottom of the third, when Sanchez hit Chase Utley in the back with a pitch. Utley caught the ball on a bounce as he ran up the first base line and flipped it toward the pitcher’s mound.
Sanchez and Utley then exchanged words as players from both teams ran onto the field.
Sanchez Taken Out
While there were no ejections, Sanchez was lifted after throwing 26 balls and 24 strikes. Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner, Javier Lopez, Lincecum and Wilson then limited the Phillies to five hits the rest of the way.
“They had an unbelievable team over there and we managed through it,” said Giants outfielder Cody Ross, who was voted NLCS Most Valuable Player after hitting three home runs against the Phillies. The Giants claimed Ross off waivers from the Florida Marlins on Aug. 23.
Phillies starting pitcher Roy Oswalt held the Giants to two runs over six innings before giving way to Ryan Madson, who got five outs before allowing Uribe’s opposite-field homer in the eighth.
Uribe hit a career-high 24 home runs during the regular season, the second-most for the Giants behind Huff’s 26.
The Phillies, seeking to become the first NL team to make the World Series three years in a row since the St. Louis Cardinals from 1942-44, had two runners on base in both the eighth and ninth innings.
After Lincecum -- making his first relief appearance since 2008 -- allowed consecutive one-out singles in the eighth, Wilson got Carlos Ruiz to line into an inning-ending double play. In the ninth, Wilson walked Jimmy Rollins and Utley before throwing a third strike past Howard that silenced the Philadelphia crowd.
“It’s epic, what a battle we’ve had since spring,” Wilson said after clinching the Giants’ fourth NL pennant since the team moved to San Francisco. “Day in and day out we played one-run ball games and we were able to lock it down on a consistent basis. We’ve earned this.”