#12 Joe Panik
Down 2-0 in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, the Giants tortured their home fans through 13 innings (5hrs) before #12 Joe Panik sent everyone home with a smashing hit off the wall that brought in the run for a walk-off win.
Trailing the Cubs 3-0 from a rare Madison Bumgarner homer given up to starting pitcher Jake Arrieta in the second inning, the Giants refused to concede the series to the Cubs so easily. Bumgarner settled in for five innings and the Giants battled back to finally take the lead in the bottom of the eigth with a Conor Gillaspie three run triple. Gillaspie's hit off the impenetrable Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman was simply gargantuan. Chapman threw a 102mph fastball that Conor blasted into "triples alley" just over the outreached glove of the Cubs center fielder. It has already become one of those Giants baseball lore moments of October that seem to come every even year in the MLB playoffs.
But Sergio Romo had trouble closing out the in the top of the ninth, giving up a two run homer to tie the game 5-5. The two teams fought like heavy weight boxers in the late rounds landing jabs, hooks and uppercuts to their opponents chin but seeing their bloody and bruised opponent still standing at the end of the round.
Then came the bottom of the 13th inning where a Brandon Crawford double acted as a body blow that brought down the guard of the stalking Chicago Cubs ever so slightly. Up comes Giants second baseman Joe Panik to the plate. Smokin' Joe, who'd go 3 for 4 on the night, saw an openning and landed a whopping shot that smacked the center-right field wall dropping the Cubs and sending home Crawford for the Giants winning run. It was a beautiful thing.
Kind of reminds me of those old Don Cheadle commercials about all that can happen in 5 seconds of sports and the phrase "Average Joe"; "they took the name joe, and made it 'JOE'"
Today brings another round of history making moments as the two teams meet again in San Francisco, less than 24hrs after JOE dropped the Cubs. I'm sure both ball clubs are dog tired and feeling the bruises of last night's brawl, but their hearts ache for the future prize of a league championship. And so they must keep fighting, because that's what champions do; fight until there's only one man standing.