There was a moonshot of a home run, a phenomenal defensive gem, a solid pitching performance, and questionable managerial decisions. But when a fluky series came down to a fluky play, the Giants won 3–2 against the Nationals because they always seem to get a fluky play or two in the postseason.
Tied 2–2 in the bottom of the 7th inning of Game 4, the Giants managed to single, single, walk their way into having bases loaded with only one out. Nationals pitcher Aaron Barrett wasn't hitting any of his spots, but he really lost it facing Pablo Sandoval, chucking his 2–1 pitch to the backstop and allowing Joe Panik to scurry home on the wild pitch.
Down 3–1 in the count to Sandoval and with first base suddenly wide open, the Nationals decided to intentionally walk him. But in one of the more bizarre baseball plays you will ever see, Barrett lobbed his intentional ball 10 feet over catcher Wilson Ramos's head. Already standing up, Ramos managed to quickly retrieve the ball and throw out Buster Posey trying to score from third, the second time Posey was thrown out at home during the series.
The Nationals didn't come particularly close to scoring in the 8th or 9th innings, with their only base runner coming on Bryce Harper's walk with two outs in the top of the 9th. Even ahead in the count to Harper 0–2, Giants closer Santiago Casilla was so wary of him that he bounced four consecutive pitches to put the trying run on first. Casilla's reluctance to challenge Harper was understandable, considering Harper knocked in both of the Nationals runs on the night, one of them with this towering shot into McCovey Cove.
The Nationals were the best team in the National League this season while the Giants had to win the wild card play-in game to even get here, but the Giants have proven to be unbeatable lately as long as they make it into the postseason. Nine of the players on their NLDS roster won a World Series with the club in 2010, meaning for once the cliche about "playoff experience" might actually be apt.
The Giants move on to face the Cardinals in a rematch of the 2012 NLCS, when Giants came back from a 3–1 series deficit on their way to a second World Series victory in three years.
Photo via Ezra Shaw/Getty