There will be a Game 7

Ezra Shaw

Oh, there will be a Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, alright.

And, suddenly, all the Giants have to do is win a game at home. That game will be started by Matt Cain.

Ryan Vogelsong, you magnificent creature, what have you done?

I'm not ashamed to admit that I was cycling through the post-game angles when Ryan Vogelsong was struggling against the Reds in Game 3 of the NLDS. Four of the first five runners reached base. The Giants were going to get swept. It looked like the end-of-season rebound from Vogelsong didn't carry into the playoffs. I went full Eeyore. It was a fun season, I supposed. Kind of. Oh, well. And someday we're all going to die, you know.

Vogelsong since that first inning: 18 innings, 13 runners, two runs, three team wins.

It was natural to feel happy for Vogelsong after he found his sea legs against the Reds. It was natural to be thrilled for him after he pitched one of his best games of his life in Game 2 against the Cards. It felt like something important, a validation of his long road back. Remember, two years ago Vogelsong was in a Bhutanese prison, fighting the other inmates for sport. Then he hooked up with Rags al Ghul, and now we're here. Game 2 wasn't exactly a victory lap, but it was welcome proof of something that didn't need to be proven.

This game, though, was Vogelsong not really caring about his first playoff start or his first great playoff outing. This was just a pitcher with robot eyes in an elimination game. Nothing is ever going to take away from his unlikely, monkeys-typing-Hamlet comeback story, so maybe it was a little condescending to think of his last two playoff starts as something that deserved a special ribbon. Dude's trying to hoist a trophy. He doesn't give a damn about our special ribbons. He'd look good hoisting a trophy.

Everything Vogelsong was doing in Game 2, he was doing just as well in Game 6. Better, actually. He set a career high in strikeouts, and remember that he's been around long enough to have been teammates with Mark Gardner and Bobby Estalella. Over eight years and 92 career starts, he probably pitched the best game of his major-league career. In an elimination game. To force a Game 7.

It was just as likely that we were going to be celebrating a Damon Minor home run tonight, you know. Two years ago, five years ago … I probably would have put better odds on "Damon Minor Clubs Season-Saving Homer in NLCS" than "Ryan Vogelsong Pitches Another Gem, Giants Move to Game 7." Ryan Vogelsong is on the Giants again, and he might be one of the reasons they win the pennant in 2012. This will always, always, always be completely gobsmacking and surreal, regardless of how many times we've heard the story.

I don't know about you, but I keep expecting the ghost of another playoff series. When the Giants were down 3-1 in St. Louis, I kept thinking back to the 2002 NLCS, and how David Bell's hit and Kenny Lofton's scamper prevented the series from moving back to Busch Stadium. That, I figured, was what was going to happen to the Giants. But it didn't.

When the Giants forced a Game 6 back in San Francisco, all I could think about was the hope the Phillies fans must have felt when their team did the same thing back in 2010. But when they got to Game 6, all that was waiting for them was Juan Uribe hitting the first opposite-field home run of his life. Something like that, of course, was lurking for the Giants. But it wasn't.

And when the Giants had a four-run lead in the seventh inning, I couldn't get excited. When Blanco's error put a runner on with two outs, I started rooting through the steamer trunks of my subconscious, bringing out memories of the 2002 World Series. Where there two outs when everything unpleasant happened? One out? Was it a five-run lead? A four-run lead? Whatever it was, here we go. Plus, the Cardinals were involved, and there was going to be a soul-spindling comeback, it was all too clear.

But there wasn't a comeback.

This Game 6, then, was a reminder that this series isn't anything like those other series. This year isn't like any other year. The Giants have a former prospect who returned after walking the earth, looking for salvation. They have a homegrown star coming back from a busted ankle. They have pitchers leaking oil, and then they have other pitchers slipping on the puddles of oil and falling down the stairs. They have a unique team and a unique situation.

They have a Game 7 at home, too. There's no sense trying to apply any recent history to that. The Giants haven't had an elimination game at home since Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson 50 years ago. We're all going to go bald and chew our cuticles bloody, but it's worth it. Maybe! Ohmanohmanohmanwhatdidweaskforohmanohman ...

And, suddenly, all the Giants have to do is win a game at home. That game will be started by Matt Cain.

Don't forget to check out TiqIQ for your Game 7 tickets. You should have listened to me on Friday about tickets for Game 6, you fool!

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