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Best Postseason Games: 2012 NLDS Game 5

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I sure hope there’s a grand slam GIF somewhere in this article!

San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds - Game Five
Sure, let’s have a dogpile
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When writing, it’s important to grab your reader’s attention immediately.

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You want to make them sit up, take notice, unconsciously lean towards the screen a little because they are rapt.

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Give them something to latch on to, a recurring idea that burrows in their brain, waiting to emerge again later and make them see connections that would have otherwise been hidden.

Here’s a fun connection: Buster Posey hit the absolute crap out of that ball. Did you already notice that? If not, take another look.

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But there was more to this game than just one swing. We all remember Posey’s grand slam, of course: the ball majestically flying into the air, slaying the foul Latos-beast, the dejected catcher reaction from Ryan Hanigan, the choir of angels singing as he rounded the bases, Nelson Mandela stopping the game just to shake Posey’s hand and tell him it was an honor to meet him.

But it wasn’t the end of the game. Oh boy, was that not the end of the game.

Posey’s grand slam gave the Giants a 6-0 fifth inning lead with Matt Cain on the mound, and Cain, a little shaky for pretty much the whole 2012 postseason (clincher against the Cardinals excepted), gave two of those runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

The Reds got another on a Ryan Ludwick leadoff homer in the sixth, and had a rally going after that too — runners on first and second with no one out — until Reds manager Dusty Baker sent the runners on a 3-2 count to Hanigan, who struck out looking, allowing Posey to easily throw out Jay Bruce at third. That double play was the last pitch Cain would throw, as George Kontos got the last out of the sixth.

Things did not get easier from there, as the Giants offense didn’t score again and the Reds had at least one runner in scoring position in every inning until the game was over. In the seventh, they had runners on first and second with two outs against Jeremy Affeldt, who got Ludwick to hit a comebacker to end the inning. In the eighth, they had runners on first and second with two outs for Dioner Navarro, who hit a soft liner to center that Angel Pagan caught maybe four inches off the ground.

And then there was the ninth. Oh boy, there was the ninth.

Sergio Romo, after having gotten Navarro to end the eighth, stayed in to close the game, and he got Brandon Phillips to lead off the inning with a foul out. But he walked now-Giant Zack Cozart, allowed a Joey Votto single, and then gave up an RBI single to Ludwick, making it a 6-4 game with two on, one out, and Jay Bruce up.

If you were a Giants fan watching the game, the stress of the Jay Bruce at bat took twelve years off your life. The AB took about five and a half minutes, and it was pitch after pitch of high-stakes, high-stress white-knuckle, game-on-the-line drama. Bruce had had an excellent year — 121 OPS+ — and he had homered in the first game of the series, and for 11 pitches, Romo threw the ball, Bruce either took it or fouled it off, and we had to do it all again. Finally, on the 12th pitch of the at bat, and Romo’s 30th of the game, Bruce lofted a shallow fly ball down the line in left field, which Xavier Nady easily settled under and caught for the second out.

That left Scott Rolen as the Reds’ last hope, and on a 1-2 pitch, he swung through a slider right in the middle of the strike zone to end the game and the Reds’ season.

The game itself was thrilling and unbearably tense, with the last hour making you feel like everything was going to go wrong all at once. It was also the culmination of an incredible comeback. MLB’s schedule for that Division Series was odd: the first two games were in San Francisco, and the last three were in Cincinnati. The Giants lost both of their home games that series, not looking all that good along the way, and went to Ohio needing to win out to advance in the postseason. They did that, and they did it by beating Mat Latos and a great Reds team.

So there’s more to that game than just this:

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Because when the game was over, there was also this:

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