Giants

Duane Kuiper shares amazing Hunter Pence story from 2014 World Series

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AP

Duane Kuiper shares amazing Hunter Pence story from 2014 World Series

The Giants relied on Hunter Pence's leadership during his first stint with the team. He didn't pick up "The Reverend" moniker for nothing.

Pence earned the nickname after the 2012 NLDS, giving his teammates a fiery, inspirational sermon as San Francisco trailed two-games-to-none in the best-of-five series with the Cinncinati Reds. The Giants overcame that deficit, and a three-games-to-one hole against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, to win their second World Series of the decade following Pence's speech. Though he slashed just .210/.230/.290 in his first postseason in orange and black, the speech cemented Pence's place in Giants lore.

The Giants only faced playoff elimination once after that run -- the 2014 NL Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh-- before Game 7 of the World Series. San Francisco, coming off a 10-0 road loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 6, had reason to hang its collective head.

That, unsurprisingly, is not what Pence did.

"We got off the bus at the hotel, and it just happened that Hunter Pence and I were the only two in the elevator going up." Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper recalled Tuesday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "And really in Hunter Pence's style, he looked me in the eye and with deep sincerity said, 'I'm glad. This is the way it has to be. I can't wait for tomorrow.' "

Pence's confidence was warranted. He entered Game 7 batting .435 with a home run and 5 RBI in the World Series, recording a hit in each game of the Fall Classic. The outfielder kept rolling in Game 7, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Had Madison Bumgarner not thrown a historic five-inning save three days after tossing 119 pitches, Pence would've had a strong case for World Series MVP. He tied Pablo Sandoval for the Fall Classic lead with 12 hits and three doubles, leading all hitters with a 1.167 OPS. Pence's calm in the face of adversity went a long way.

"Meanwhile, everybody else is ready to puke (after Game 6), right?" Kuiper continued. "Because of (losing Game 7 in 2002 to the Anaheim Angels) and we got a Game 7 ... but he was ready to roll, man. I don't believe he slept. I think he sat in his chair in his room and waited until the bus left the next day."

[RELATED: Kuiper reveals his most underrated Giant from title teams]

Pence returned to the Giants this offseason after an unlikely All-Star campaign with the Texas Rangers in 2019. The veteran admitted he doubted if he could still play after the Giants didn't re-sign him following the 2018 season, but he revamped his swing and revitalized his career as a 35-year-old.

The Giants likely won't be contenders whenever the MLB season starts after the coronavirus pandemic, but Pence won't be counting San Francisco -- or himself -- out.

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.