The San Francisco Giants know how realistic it is to rally in the playoffs.
San Francisco leads Washington two games to none in a National League division series two years after losing its first two games at home to the Cincinnati Reds, just as the Nationals did this time. The Giants became the first team in major league history to overcome an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three consecutive road games. They went on to win their second World Series title in three years, and they’re still riding a 10-game postseason winning streak.
During the streak, the Giants have an 0.90 earned-run average in 100 innings, with 99 strikeouts and 27 walks.
“Yeah, it can be done,” Nationals Manager Matt Williams said Sunday. “It can certainly be done. You have to start with the first one.”
The Nationals’ next chance comes in Game 3 on Monday at AT&T Park when San Francisco can close the series behind 18-game winner Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a four-hit shutout at Pittsburgh on Wednesday in the wild-card game . Doug Fister will pitch for the Nationals.
Both clubs could be weary after the Giants’ 2-1, 18-inning victory that stretched into Sunday morning.
The Nationals, who led the NL with 96 victories, held an optional workout under clear skies in Northern California. A few players tossed a football around in right field ahead of batting practice.
Williams wasn’t too concerned about the Nationals being mentally ready to fight on after two one-run defeats.
“They’re fine. They’re all here,” Williams said. “We have an optional workout today, but the buses are full and they are itching to get back out there and work today. Last night’s flight was a long one, but there was a lot of conversation going. Guys were talking about the previous two games and what we must do to get back in this thing and win tomorrow. … They don’t panic, for sure. That’s a good thing.”
It could be another pitchers’ duel two days after Jordan Zimmermann and Tim Hudson dazzled.
Williams removed Zimmermann after the right-hander walked a batter with two outs in the ninth inning and Washington ahead, 1-0. Drew Storen gave up a single and a run-scoring double. The manager said he would do it again.
Fister’s last start at AT&T Park was memorable for the wrong reasons. Pitching for Detroit in Game 2 of the 2012 World Series, Fister took a line drive by Gregor Blanco off the right side of his head but stayed in and carried a shutout bid into the seventh inning. The Tigers wound up losing, 2-0, and San Francisco swept.
“Doesn’t matter where he pitches. It could be here. It could be D.C. It could be the moon,” Williams said.
Now, it’s up to the Nationals right-hander to stave off elimination.
Fister has watched video of the play many times.
“I remember it very vividly. It’s not something that gives me chills or anything else,” Fister said. “It’s something that I’ve gone back and looked at it just to know that, you know what, `Hey, I’m OK.’ I was blessed that day to come out on top and not have to come out of the game.”