SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy, sitting with his feet propped up on his manager’s desk in the early morning hours Tuesday, kept staring in disbelief at the scoresheet. General manager Bobby Evans sat slumped on the office couch, trying to make sense of what happened. Giants vice president Brian Sabean stood against the wall for support, still in shock.
The Giants have won three World Series championships in the last six years, with pitchers winning Cy Youngs, throwing perfect games and no-hitters, Barry Bonds setting home run records, but never, ever, ever, Bochy says, has he ever been part of a game like this one.
“I would have to say it’s the greatest game I’ve been part of," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Yes, greater than Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. Greater than their 0-2 comeback in 2012 against the Cincinnati Reds. Greater than the comeback in Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS against the powerful Philadelphia Phillies.
The Giants’ zany 6-5, 13-inning victory over the Chicago Cubs in 13 innings, lasting 5 hours and 4 minutes, was still the ultimate.
It was that spell-binding.
“The game had everything," Bochy said. “It was just a fun game to be involved with. And it's hard to have a better game to watch than what we had tonight.
“Guys just did a great job of keep battling and play hard, and for 27 outs, it ended up being more than that, but just a terrific game to be involved in."
Yes, try 39 outs, with 24 being recorded by the Giants’ bullpen, in spite of blowing their 31st lead of the season.
It was that kind of night, allowing the Giants to live another day.
“It was a game," Evans said, “that you dream about."
Incredibly, for the 10th consecutive time when facing elimination, the Giants were victorious. This time, it was Joe Panik hitting a run-scoring double, for their first walk-off in an elimination game since Game 5 of the 1911 World Series.
The only other walk-off hit by a second baseman in an elimination game was Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski of the 1960 World Series.
“You got to give them credit, man," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They keep fighting. And you knew they would.
“When you’re in the dugout among your players, and they’re playing like that, with that kind of enthusiasm and just everything is right about them and we don’t win, that doesn’t mean you get, upset, man."
No, but it sure has a way of creating a whole lot of stress, particularly in the downtown streets of Chicago.
Bochy reminded his players before the game that he was on that San Diego Padres team that also trailed the Cubs, 2 games to 0, in the 1984 playoffs, only to win three in a row and keep the Cubs’ misery alive.
The Cubs still are sitting pretty, leading this best-of-five NL Division Series 2 games to 1, with Game 4 at AT&T Park (8:40 p.m. ET, FS1), but it gets a little scary knowing that the Giants are like cockroaches that just can’t be killed.
“We’re a team that plays for the moment, and we’re still dancing" said Giants closer Sergio Romo, who gave up a two-run homer to Kris Bryant in the ninth inning, triggering the ensuing craziness.
"We believe in ourselves. I know every team believes in themselves, I feel, but we have proof that belief is real. That belief is there. Look at the rings that we have. There is proof that there is belief. We’re all in for selling out. Today was just another example of that."
Certainly, it was one of the wildest, wackiest postseason games anyone has seen, with both teams still trying to decipher what actually happened.
Let’s see, it was a game the Cubs appeared to win on Jake Arrieta’s three-run homer off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in the second inning, only for the Giants to win it on Cubs All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman’s blown save in the eighth, only for the game to be tied Kris Bryant’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth, only for the Cubs to save the game on right fielder Albert Almora’s diving catch in the bottom of the ninth, and for the Giants to finally win it in the 13th on back-to-back doubles by Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik.
It’s impossible to know what was more bizarre, the Giants’ bullpen to pitch eight shutout innings after their ace gives up his first postseason runs in 24 innings? The Cubs tying a major-league record with six RBI by their pitching staff in a series? The Cubs becoming the first team since the 1924 Giants to have two pitchers homer in the same postseason series? The Giants going 6-for-13 against left-handed pitching_including the first triple by a left-handed hitter off Aroldis Chapman this season.
Or, of course, the story of Connor Gillaspie, who hit the ninth-inning, game-winning homer last week in the wild-card game against the New York Mets, and now this?
Who’d possibly imagine that the Giants’ season would come down to Gillaspie? This is a guy whose favorite TV station growing up was The Weather Channel, becoming a storm chaser in college. Gillaspie bounces around and signs a minor-league free agent contract this year with the Giants. And he’s in the starting lineup only because the Giants traded third baseman Matt Duffy to Tampa for Matt Moore at the deadline, and Eduardo Nunez has a strained hamstring.
Gillaspie had never faced a pitcher throwing 100 mph in his career, let alone Chapman, who was yielding a .106 batting average against lefties this season, when he walked to the plate in the eighth inning? So what does he do? Sends Chapman’s 102-moh heater into the right-center gap for a two-run triple. It was his first RBI off a left-handed pitcher this season.
“Gillaspie’s crushing the ball, 102 mph of Chapman," Evans said. “I mean, who does that."
Gillaspie’s hit gave the Giants’ their first lead of the entire series, only for that lead to vanish when Bryant hit a towering fly ball that bounced off the cartoon-car ad the left-field fence for a two-run homer.
“I was just thinking," Evans said, “whether we could make that car a convertible."
When the night ended, with Bumgarner actually in the dugout cheering on his teammates longer than he was in the game, the Giants were trying to figure out who was their biggest pitching hero?
Was it Bumgarner, who finally looked human, and managed to stay in the game for five innings, with Bochy calling it “one of the gutsiest performances I’ve seen?’’
Was it Romo, who recorded six consecutive outs after giving up Bryant’s blast?
“He didn’t let us lose the game," Evans said. “He didn’t let us lose.’’
Or was it rookie Ty Blach, who pitched two scoreless innings and got his first postseason victory?
“Madison’s been so good for us all year, every postseason he’s been in," Panik said, “so it was about time we kind of picked him up. I think it’s just about the character of the guys that, you know, if we’re breathing, we’re not out of it.’’
Said Giants first baseman Brandon Belt: “It’s part of our DNA. Our never-give up attitude."
It’s the Giants. It’s what they do. Every other October. They have the rings to prove it.
“We’ve had a lot of great memories over the years," Evans said, “but it’s one for the books to remember tonight."
It’s a collection that keeps on growing.