Giants torture ends!
A "strike" said it all!
The trick became a treat as Giants shut out the Texas Rangers for a 2nd time in 2 days in what has now become known as "fright night" for the Texas ballplayers.
On to Game 5!
On Monday night, fans nearly knocked me off my perch in a quaint pub off Castro Street, when lightning struck - with big closer Brian Wilson - at the helm.
Patrons literally jumped for joy!
High-fives, raucous back slaps, and a slew of brewskies downed with exotically-named shots, became the order of the day!
On Sunday, what was the general consensus?
It wasn't a case of if - but rather - when!
Would the Giants cinch the pennant in Arlington or in a sixth or seventh game on home turf in San Francisco?
Although a win at AT& T ballpark was preferable - from a par-tay mode point-of-view - most were in ecstatic accord.
"Let's get it done."
A handful of sports enthusiasts remained wishy-washy - waxed philosophically - at times.
But, Tim Linescum was straight-forward in his approach and made no bones about it, when he was ambushed in the parking lot on the trek to the stadium.
"We're here to nail it," he barked with an air of authority.
Tensions had been mounting for days.
"Torture," is the way many fans described the gut-wrenching prevailing mood leading up to the mighty 5th.
Others were ready for the task at hand.
"Bring it on."
Two Nuns - Texas Ranger ticket-holding fans since 1972 - had one practical word of advice for the locals.
The hour had come!
And, there wasn't any two ways about it.
If the Giants nabbed the trophy that evening, a big blow-out would bust out on the West Coast - and take center stage - at AT & T park (and elsewhere, natch).
A raucous posse of fans were camped out at Britannia's Pub in San Jose, for instance, pining for the nail-biting cliffhanger to end their way.
Meanwhile, on the heels of the spectacular shut-outs over the weekend, Mayor Newsom quickly scrambled on the sidelines to ensure that a humongous wide screen was erected downtown (in the reflected light of the glowing "orange" dome atop City Hall) in time to broadcast Monday Night's high-profile match at the Civic Center for locals and tourists alike to take in.
By noon, the plaza was awash in orange and black, as sports fanatics streamed in to snatch up a coveted spot to catch the fifth game on the World Series roster.
At Willie Mays Plaza, on the other hand, fans were surging forward in unruly queues, in a bold-faced effort to snap up memorabilia to don for the big event just hours away.
T-shirts (etched with slogans like "I see Orange People", "Got Panda", "Fear the Beard"), ubiquitous jaunty ball caps, and nifty miniature-size towels flew off the shelves at break-neck speed (at premium prices, I might add).
Above the madding crowds, posters and fliers transmitted encouraging slogans that resonated, and boosted the morale of San Franciscans everywhere near and far.
"Go! Giants! Go!"
Game 5 roared along at a fast clip, so much so, that it was difficult to keep up with my notes!
Even still, by the 4th inning, I was embarrassed to have to relay the score to inquisitive strangers, who trotted up quizzing me for updates.
Zilch to Zilch!
Tim Linescum's fastballs were being clocked at 93 mph.
Anxious (fearful?) Texans couldn't see the ball whizzing by, let alone get a crack at it (for the most part).
Because of it, Linescum rose to Super-star status in the eyes of the fans, early on in the battle for supremacy on the field.
The athlete of-the-hour (a two-time Cy Young Award Winner) picked off the players one-by-one - in what must have been a surreal baseball scenario for the batters - unfortunate to have to stand up to his fastball wrath.
Linescum's pitching was perfect, precise.
Understandably, I won't dwell on his "bad-hair" day!
He had a lot more on his mind than grooming, folks.
When Madison Bumgarner stepped up to the pitcher's mound, the fans were still in awe over Sunday Night's dazzling stellar performance in a shut-out game, that goes down in the annals of Sports History for a myriad of reasons.
The 21 year old pitcher was the 4th youngest player in that heady position to play the World Series.
"Madison looks like a big kid, but he's mature for his age," noted a supportive team mate.
On the mound, he was all business, as he stared the batters down.
"Mental warfare," one fan next to me chortled, when I pointed out the intensity of it all, which must have been off-putting to less-seasoned players a little wet behind-the-ears.
The game proved to be a night of balls (off the wall, flubbed miserably, over-the-wall spinningly), sacrifices (Aubrey Huff went down for the 1st time in his ball career for the sake of the team), and strike-outs (plenty of 'em pitched stingingly by 26 year old Tim Lincescum in his best game ever in the glare of the spotlight).
There were a few embarrassing moments, too.
Mitch Moreland, for instance, dropped a ball on 1st base in the 5th inning which raised a few eyebrows.
A couple of strike-outs didn't fair well with critics either, who - until the weekend - were singling the kid out for super-star status on the diamond horizon.
Throughout the game, Giants fans kept the team spirit alive - and thumping - from the bleachers even though they weren't on home green.
In tandem with a melodious organ - which spewed out a few whimsical musical notes in advance - the revellers sang out in chorus:
"Let's go, Giants!"
In contrast to the Texas Ranger fans (a rather tame lot who often preferred clenching their hands with pals to punching the air with pointed gestures) the Giants' backers hooted and hollered the entire match throughout the electrically-charged starry-eyed night.
Did they beat the Ranger's fans into submission, perhaps?
In town - at pubs and cafes - sports enthusiasts packed cozy environs hell-bent on catching every sizzling move unfolding before them on state-of-the-art high-tech screens.
They were hopeful.
The last time the Giants won was way back in 1954.
The image of Willie Mays waving from an open convertible in a ticker-tape parade is still a memorable one.
When Brian Wilson struck out a Texas Ranger in the 9th - to cinch the pennant - the fans went wild, jumped for joy, and hugged everyone (and thing) in sight.
Shortly after Linescum darted onto the field to congratulate his fellow ballplayers, he was hoisted up on a dozen or so broad shoulders, and touted as one of the big heroes of the day.
But, the cameras zoomed in on Edgar Renteria shortly after that.
Being named MVP (Most Valuable Player) was an ironic end scenario for the humbled player.
When Renteria was signed months ago for $18 million, critics lamented it was allegedly a waste of money, because the ball player was a "washed-up short-stop" without any future worth.
The seasoned Pro hung in there, though, and eventually the twisted finger of fate pointed his way.
With two outs in the 7th inning - and Cody Ross and Juan Uribe on base - Renteria knocked a 2-0 cut fastfall from Cliff Lee over the wall in left-center field for a three-run homer that helped secure the outcome.
"I knew something was going to come up," he fessed up to one reporter later.
Sports professionals summed up sizzling Game 5 this way:
"The best pitchers beat the best batters."
In fact, Linescum's performance was being hailed as "Masterful".
Tim became the 15th Pitcher in history to win four games in one postseason.
It came as no surprise to Buster Posey who took notice of his demeanour early on in the night.
"It's called being a gamer...the guy was loose as can be, joking around, same old Timmy...he had no idea he had the opportunity to go out and win Game 5 of the World Series and win us a championship."
One reporter asked the Ram Power Player if he ever dreamed of being a "funky pitcher" in the World Series when he was lad.
"No. I wanted to be a batter," 'Tim confessed shyly.
Across the field, there were glum faces all 'round in the Texans Ranger locker room.
In spite of the humiliating outcome - the club Manager and his staff - were able to muster up a truism.
"It's not the best team that wins. It's the team that plays best."
The powers-that-be at the Texas ball club congratulated the Giants for a game well-played, hard-fought, and earned from the get-go.
Can 'ya fathom that?
Early on in the season, the Giants were often teased for exuding an aura of being a gang of cast-offs and misfits.
Freddie Sanchez laughed at the notion that he might be the President of such a team.
"Timmy made the night. He filled in the gap," he asserted with a grin on his face.
General Manager Bruce Bochy noted low-key - and with a glint in his eye - that it was the versatility of the team as a whole that egged him on.
According to the seasoned handler, it was fun to shuffle around the talent.
The GM is the only one in San Francisco to sport a World Series ring, which prompted a reporter to ask if he would run for political office one day.
Bochy pooh-poohed the notion.
Just doing his job.
And well, I might add.
In the aftermath of the stunning cinch, thousands swarmed the streets drunk with euphoria, and at-the-ready to par-tay hearty.
Muni cable cars were adorned with toilet paper, fans danced with wild abandon in the streets, and die-hard sports-lovers continued to hoop and holler 'til the cows - er - the Giants came home.
At 4 o'clock in the morning, at the crack of dawn, the team was greeted with cheers and contrats!
Indeed, there was enough of a rumble in the streets to trigger the next big one!
Dennis Wilson thanked the fans.
"They waved towels, wore beards, and hair," he chuckled.
"World Championship hair," he added in an afterthought.
Tim Lincecum noted it had been fun.
"We were a crazy crew. The city's (support) made it easy. Wearing my hair and panda heads," he laughed appreciatively.
The old axiom proved to be true.
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
"It took a lot of pitches to get here. Mechanics were important. Going thru ruts in August," he admitted off-the-cuff with a little musing.
When asked about the switcheroo's during the season, he was quick on the uptake.
"We made adjustments when necessary."
On Wednesday, there will be a ticker-tape parade in downtown San Francisco, because of the had-won battles on the field over the past stretch in the World Series play-offs.
Mayor Gavin Newsom is slated to hand off the keys of the city to the San Francisco Giants, too.
Buster Posy thought the whole outcome was "cool".
The kid was down-to-earth - and classy - to the end.
As Tim drove off into the dark night early this morning in a silver Mercedes Benz with bow tie correctly knotted in place, it was evident we hadn't heard (or seen) the last of him (or the Giants).
In fact, today's paper is boasting a full page ad, for next year's season tickets.
Snatch 'em up.
They'll be goners, soon, if last night's phenomenal parade of pride is any indication.