Programming note: For comprehensive coverage from the Giants' Game 3 win over the Cardinals, watch SportsNet Central tonight at 10:30 & midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Flannery saw it happen in front of his eyes, again, and just laughed.
"Slingshots and rocks," the San Francisco Giants third base coach smiled. "We just keep coming at you with slingshots and rocks."
This time, the rocks were bunts that would make even Kansas City manager Ned Yost weep with bitterness and envy.
There were failed bunts that turned into spectacularly successful bunts, there was one more absurdly wild throw that allowed Brandon Crawford to score from second on a ball that maybe traveled 25 feet from home plate, and one more win for what Bruce Bochy sardonically calls "The Ground Attack."
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants win Game 3 on walk-off error in 10th]
The Giants won Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, 5-4 in 10 innings, because they have taken their already ethereal fetish of making good things magically appear from dumpster fires and festooned it with horseshoes wrapped in four-leaf clovers and "Get Out Of Jail Free" cards.
They won it because Juan Perez couldn't get down two bunts and Gregor Blanco couldn't get down a third.
They won it because sometimes the occult says, "Sorry, I've doubled down on the home team today."
And they won it because, as third base coach Flannery said, "They took an MRI of my head yesterday, and all they found was old and stressed."
These are the 2014 Giants, a good team that has apparently been French-kissed by God -- or, if you must, whatever deity handles baseball matters in your house.
This time, they took a 4-0 first-inning lead on Cardinals starter John Lackey, and then took the next 27 at-bats off and let the Cardinals get back into the game. Teams lose when they do this, a lot, and they have it coming every time.
But these are the Giants, who blow snotrockets at the Grim Reaper and say, "Go on, Sickle Boy, bring your A-game." And here's what they delivered today:
- An eight-pitch walk to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who was 2-for-24 since Game 1 of the NL Division Series against Washington.
- A single to left by Juan Perez, who failed spectacularly on his first two pitches to lay down bunts, or as they are called in the popular vernacular, Yosts.
- A foul bunt on the first pitch to Gregor Blanco, who then dropped a second bunt on an 83-mph slider from Cardinals pitcher Randy Choate that landed in the one place on the infield where shipwreck debris can often be found. Choate raced over before third baseman Matt Carpenter grabbed the ball, and sailed a sidearm throw down the right field line behind second baseman Kolten Wong, who was covering first base. Crawford scored from second, and once again, the Giants had victory shoved forcibly down their throats.
Lucky? Of course. But Bochy will challenge you on the notion that the Giants only win by luck.
"I'm a little delirious right now," he said with that I-Hit-On-18-And-Pulled-A-Trey smile of his. "We don't do anything easy . . . it's something you're used to. It's kind of our way.
"But luck is created by you executing sometimes. We might have gotten a little lucky there with Perez when he couldn't get a bunt down and gets a base hit. But Blanco laid down a beauty, like I said. And I don't know if that's as much luck as it is great bunt, great speed to put pressure on them. It's a great thing to have, but you don't get this far by being lucky."
No, but once you get that far, luck is better than anything but the guy from the jewelers asking to size your finger. The Giants blew a game they had won by compiling 27 at-bats that would make the San Diego Padres spit up in disgust -- ten fly balls, seven grounders, four line drives, four strikeouts, a single by pitcher Tim Hudson and a Pablo Sandoval hit-by-pitch on a 1-2 count.
And still, they win, because they are Slingshots And Rocks French-Kissed By God, making others Old And Stressed as they go.
At this point, all they have left is to win on a balk, a non-passed ball that gets lost in A.J. Pierzynski's equipment, and a huge hand coming out of the sky and just grabbing Cardinals by the fistful and hurling them into McCovey Cove.
Bet against none of it. You cannot say you have not been told.