- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN Insider
The Giants' seemingly impossible championship run last year began Sept. 23, Jake Peavy believes, on a night Madison Bumgarner matched up against Zack Greinke, two star pitchers who will duel again tonight with San Francisco badly needing a victory after its 14-inning loss Monday.
The story now is almost legend among the Giants' players. San Francisco fell behind in that game, and Bumgarner generated the only early-inning runs by clubbing a homer. Bumgarner was due to hit in the top of the eighth inning, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy intended to pinch-hit for him. Bochy approached the left-hander, who made his case to stay in and bat for himself, arguing that he had generated the runs.
"I know, I know," Bochy responded, more than once.
Finally, Bumgarner -- competitive, but not disrespectful -- said to Bochy in his North Carolina drawl, "You ain't talking to me like you know."
With that, Bochy reversed himself and allowed Bumgarner to bat. He struck out, but Peavy remembers it as a turning point for Bumgarner and the team, because Bochy conveyed complete trust in his ace, and Bumgarner would go on to carry the Giants through October in a way no pitcher ever has.
A wild-card berth may be out of reach for the Giants and Dodgers, given the dominance of the NL Central teams, increasing the importance of winning the NL West, and with San Francisco now five games behind Los Angeles in the loss column, there is a level of desperation in tonight's game. The Giants have six games left against the Dodgers and must do damage in head-to-head games and take four, at least, at a time when San Francisco's everyday lineup is wrecked by injuries.
As with the Bumgarner-Greinke matchup of last year, tonight's game could end up being a turning point.
8dJeff Banister, Special to ESPN.com
9dBrayan Pena, Special to ESPN.com
12dMatt Buschmann, Special to ESPN.com
13dA.J. Ellis, Special for ESPN.com
14dRob Manfred, Special to ESPN.com
14dSean Doolittle, Special to ESPN.com