We’re several weeks into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.
Today: Travis Ishikawa sends the San Francisco Giants into the World Series for the third time in five years.
The entire 2014 postseason was fascinating. Between the Royals refusing to lose a game, going 8-0 en route to the World Series, and Madison Bumgarner throwing more innings than anyone, it was a postseason for the books.
But this series? This series is fascinating, despite what the 4-1 final tells you. Of the five games played, three ended in late-game heroics, including this Game 5.
The second game of the series, following a dominant pitching performance by Bumgarner in Game 1, ended with a Kolten Wong walk-off. Game 3 ended on a wild pitch, allowing the Giants’ Brandon Crawford to score from third. And then there’s this game. And there’ our most unlikely of heroes.
At the beginning of this season, to say that Travis Ishikawa would be in Giants starting lineup for this NLCS Game 5 would have been insane. Mainly because he hasn’t played for the Giants in four years. Beginning his season in Pittsburgh, Ishikawa was designated for assignment in April, and signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Languishing in the minors, Ishikawa considered retirement, but in July the Giants called his number. Injuries to Brandon Belt at first base opened up a roster spot and Travis was back in action. After Belt came back in September, Travis was asked to fill another hole left by injuries to outfielders Michael Morse and Angel Pagan. Travis Ishikawa, months after contemplating retirement, was playing a position he had never played before, and he was doing it in the postseason.
And the man has been on fire in this series.
Opening scoring in the series, Ishikawa knocked in the first run with a bases-loaded single in the second inning off Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright. That trend would continue through the first four games, with Ishikawa leading the Giants in RBIs with 4. Also at the dish, Travis was holding his own with teammates Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval in hit totals. But nothing compares to the final moment of this series.
Look, we’ve been trying not to spoil the endings of these Filling the Void games, but this one is just too good. And this is called “The Travis Ishikawa Walk-Off”, so you had to know where it was going to lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, with two men on, and the game tied 3-3, Travis Ishikawa does something no other player in an NLCS had done previously. As Michael Wacha struggled to get pitches over the plate, throwing six straight balls out of the zone before grooving one over the plate, Ishikawa stood between fleeting memory and legend. The 2-0 offering flew out to right field as the crowd got to its feet. It vanished into the seats and Travis Ishikawa had catapulted the San Francisco Giants into the World Series.
In his career, Travis Ishikawa hit 24 home runs. This particular home run, that will live in baseball lore for centuries was #23.
With moments like this, it’s impossible to not be romantic about the game of baseball.
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