Giants

Benito Santiago looks back at legendary Giants homer in 2002 NLCS

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AP

Benito Santiago looks back at legendary Giants homer in 2002 NLCS

Benito Santiago understood the decision. He understood the gravity of the situation, too.

Of course the opposing team would walk Barry Bonds to get to him, no matter how hot the All-Star catcher was. And in this case, Santiago was 0-for-2 at the time and had struck out in his previous at-bat. When Santiago walked to the plate against the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 13, 2002, he tried his best to slow his mind instead of delving into the moment: Bottom of the eighth inning, score tied 2-2 in Game 4 of the NLCS. 

"When that happened, I told myself, 'Hey Benito, just take this game like it's another game,'" Santiago said Monday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "And ya know, it's Barry Bonds hitting in front of me. Whatever happened to him, I'm supposed to take care of him, and that was the mentality I had." 

That's exactly what he did, too. The veteran catcher launched a two-run homer into the left-field bleachers to give the Giants the lead and eventual win.

"The fans never gave up. I have that ... right now I can feel it in my chest," Santiago said. "I did my best and hit a home run. A big home run." 

The long ball gave the Giants a three-games-to-one lead on the Cardinals. They beat St. Louis, 2-1, one night later to reach the World Series. 

Santiago was named the NLCS MVP and calls the legendary home run his favorite of his 20-year career. The five-time All-Star couldn't help but praise Giants fans and his connection with manager Dusty Baker. 

[RELATED: One year later, Giants' trade for Yaz paying big dividends]

"It was great, especially in San Francisco. ... It's one of my best, one of my best years," Santiago said. "I love it. I love it all."

Since Oracle Park opened ahead of the 2000 season, there have been countless memorable moments. Santiago's swing is among those that will go down in franchise history.

Former Giant Randy Winn describes feeling of month-long hot streak

Former Giant Randy Winn describes feeling of month-long hot streak

A starting pitcher can take control of a game and singlehandedly lead his team to a win, but in general, it's hard for baseball players to will their team to victory day after day.

Starters pitch once every five days and position players know that even on a five-hit night, you're dependent on your own pitchers standing tall, and every time you reach base, you have to wait a couple innings for another chance to impact the game.

But every once in a while, a hitter gets so hot that it seems he's carrying his team for weeks at a time. The Giants last truly experienced this in 2018, when Brandon Crawford briefly thrust himself into the MVP race and earned an All-Star selection with an absurd stretch in May and June.

Buster Posey won the MVP award with his second half of 2012, and Melky Cabrera dragged the Giants to plenty of wins earlier that year before failing a PED test. In the first half of this century, Barry Bonds could carry the lineup for weeks, even seasons, at a time. 

Randy Winn experienced that after being traded to the Giants from the Mariners in 2005, and that year he had his own hot streak that to this day is one of the most impressive in franchise history. Over the final 30 games of that season, Winn had 54 hits in 123 at-bats, good for a .439 batting average. He hit 11 homers, 13 doubles and three triples, with a slugging percentage of .862 and OPS of 1.331. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Winn recalled what it felt like to get that hot for such a long period of time. 

"Nothing felt different -- everything just felt really, really easy and really slow," Winn said. "Whenever I felt like I wanted to take a pitch, the pitcher would throw a ball. If in my mind I was thinking, you know what, he might throw me a changeup, and he would throw me a changeup and it was very hittable. When anybody describes 'the zone' or being on fire, what they say is always the same: Everything was really slow, I was really relaxed, and my mind was really clear.

"When I think back on that time or other times when I was hitting really well, those are always the things that I remember. I didn't feel different, I wasn't really doing anything different. It just feels like you're in control of everything."

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Winn was having a solid season to that point, with a .273 average and .742 OPS. He opened September with eight hits in a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks and never looked back, finishing the year with a .306 average. Winn had 17 multi-hit games in September, including three four-hit games. His 51 hits that month set a San Francisco Giants record that Cabrera tied in May of 2012. 

"It was a great situation for me," Winn said of the midseason trade that brought him to San Francisco. "Coming home, still live in the Bay Area, grew up in the Bay Area, my wife is from the Bay Area, our parents at that time lived in the Bay Area, so for us it was a homecoming and it was just great to be back home."

[RELATED: Why "Champ" Timmy is the best version of former Giants ace]

On the podcast, Winn also talks about how he would handle this layoff, what it was like playing college basketball with Steve Nash, what made Bonds and Albert Pujols so great, and much more. 

Giants fans vote 'Champ' Tim Lincecum as best version of former ace

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AP

Giants fans vote 'Champ' Tim Lincecum as best version of former ace

You the fans have spoken.

We asked you to designate your favorite version of former Giants ace Tim Lincecum, and the social media response was overwhelming.

Lincecum was a part of all three World Series-winning teams in 2010, 2012, and 2014 in San Francisco.

During his first postseason run in 2010, Lincecum put together an impressive stretch of performances, solidifying himself as a franchise icon.

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He kicked off the 2010 MLB Playoffs by throwing a 119-pitch shutout with 14 strikeouts against the Atlanta Braves in Game 1, propping up an offense that only mustered one run of support to give the Giants a leg up in the five-game division series.

He followed that effort up by striking out eight Phillies in a Game 1 road win in Philadelphia, when Cody Ross’ two home runs led the Giants to a 4-3 win.

[RELATED: Forbes values Giants as worth $3.1B, fifth-highest in MLB]

Lincecum wrapped up the postseason by earning two World Series wins, including the series clincher in Game 5, striking out 10 Texas Rangers over eight innings as the Giants won their first Fall Classic since the franchise relocated to the west coast in 1958.

Although Lincecum earned plenty of nicknames during his legendary career in San Francisco, “Champ” definitely has a nice ring to it.