One Giant Step: Unsung hero Travis Ishikawa helps San Francisco win game five, NL pennant against Cardinals
With the 637th pick (21st Round) in the 2002 MLB Draft, the San Francisco Giants selected outfielder Travis Ishikawa out of Federal Way High School.
Ishikawa was one of just two players from that 21st Round to make it to the major leagues (Andy LaRoche). He debuted in 2006 with the Giants, and went 7-for-24 over his first 12 career major league games. He came back in 2008 and played three more seasons with San Francisco, mostly as a utility first baseman. He is the owner of a World Series ring, which he earned with the Giants in 2010.
Ishikawa did not reappear in the majors in 2011 and bounced around with the Brewers, Orioles, Yankees, and Pirates since. The Giants re-signed Ishikawa to a minor league deal after Pittsburgh released him earlier this year. He played in 47 games, hitting a .274 clip with two homers and 15 runs batted in.
It was Ishikawa, the player who appeared in parts of seven seasons, that came up in the bottom of the ninth inning against Michael Wacha, with runners on first and second. The rest, as we say, is history.
As Ishikawa rounded the bases with Joe Buck shouting, "The Giants win the pennant!" and everyone going absolutely nuts, a familiar scene was pained in your mind.
The year was 1951. Bobby Thomson was at the plate with two runners on in the last half of the ninth inning. Thomson hit a home run to left field, now known as the "shot heard around the world." Thomson's homer clinched the National League pennant. Ishikawa's did the same. The difference, however, was that Thomson was a three-time All-Star over his career. Ishikawa will likely never be.
The Giants outplayed the Cardinals this series. They played real well under pressure, just like they did in 2010 and 2012, when they captured the World Series championships. The Giants may have gotten more bounces than the Cardinals, but that is what happens when you win a playoff series. Overall, they played better baseball.
The Most Valuable Player award did not go to Ishikawa. It went to shutdown starter Madison Bumgarner, who went 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 15 2/3 innings pitched, in which he allowed just three earned runs, striking out 12. Thus far, Bumgarner has been fantastic this postseason, going 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA in 31 2/3 innings pitched, striking out 28. When he has started, the Giants have been beaten just once.
Congratulations to the Giants on winning the National League pennant. They now take on the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. This is the first time since 2002 that both Wild Cards made it to the series. Once again, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants.