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Giants blow past Cardinals in Game 7 of NLCS to advance to World Series

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The Giants have faced elimination six different times this postseason. Yet they are still standing.

Game 7 of the NLCS wasn’t much of a contest, as the Giants topped the Cardinals 9-0 at AT&T Park in San Francisco this evening to win the National League pennant and advance to the World Series against the Tigers.

The Giants are the seventh team to rally from a 3-1 deficit since the LCS expanded from five games to seven in 1985. Bruce Bochy’s squad have grown accustomed to playing with their backs against the wall this postseason, also rallying back from a 2-0 series deficit to beat the Reds during the NLDS.

The Giants took control of Game 7 early, scoring one run in the bottom of the first, one in the second and five in the third to chase Kyle Lohse and put the game out of reach. They tacked on one more in the seventh when Aubrey Huff grounded into a double play and another in the bottom of the eighth when Brandon Belt homered. Matt Cain clearly didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he delivered 5 2/3 scoreless innings before Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo finished the Cardinals off.

The Giants pounded out 14 hits on the night, including one from each member of the starting lineup. Marco Scutaro went 3-for-4 with a walk and run scored and finished the series 14-for-28 (.500).

The Cardinals were just one win away from their second straight trip to the World Series after Game 4 last Thursday, but nearly everything went south at the same time. In addition to being outscored 20-1 over the final three games of the series, none of their starters (Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter, Lohse) lasted longer than four innings. They also committed four errors and allowed seven unearned runs. The Cardinals allowed 10 unearned runs during the entire series, setting a new NLCS record.

The Giants will advance to face the Tigers in the World Series, which will begin Wednesday night in San Francisco. In an interesting twist, the Giants have All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera to thank for home field advantage.

The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle’s number this June

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox waves to the crowd after being tasken out of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.

Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:

Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.

He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.