Travis Ishikawa sends Giants to World Series on walk-off three-run homer

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The Giants are headed to the World Series for the third time in the past five seasons.

Travis Ishikawa launched a walk-off three-run homer off Michael Wacha in the bottom of the ninth inning this evening to lead the Giants to a dramatic 6-3 win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. They will now move on to face the Royals in the World Series, which will begin Tuesday night in Kansas City.

The game-winning rally was set up in curious fashion, as Michael Wacha entered the game to make his first appearance since September 26. He quickly gave up a leadoff single to Pablo Sandoval before Hunter Pence flew out to right field. Wacha then walked Brandon Belt on four pitches before Ishikawa pulled a pitch over the right field fence to punch the Giants’ ticket to the World Series. Ishikawa misplayed a fly ball in the third inning to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead, but it’s safe to say that he redeemed himself with his Bobby Thomson moment.

The Cardinals actually had the lead in this game going into the bottom of the eighth inning, as Adam Wainwright gave up just two runs over seven innings in a gritty performance, but Michael Morse evened things up with a pinch-hit solo homer off Pat Neshek. The Cardinals loaded the bases against Santiago Casilla in the top of the ninth before Giants manager Bruce Bochy turned to Jeremy Affeldt to get Oscar Taveras to ground out to end the scoring threat.

The Giants didn’t have a home run over the first four games of the series, but the long ball accounted for all six of their runs tonight. This included a two-run blast from Joe Panik in the bottom of the third inning. Madison Bumgarner gave up three runs over eight innings of work and retired the final 13 batters he faced.

This is the first time since 2002 (Angels-Giants) that two Wild Card teams will meet in the World Series. And naturally, it’s the first time it has happened since the newest Wild Card format came into play. What a postseason. Here’s hoping it still has some magic left.

Francisco Cervelli shines in his Braves debut

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Last week the Pittsburgh Pirates released Francisco Cervelli. Yesterday he was signed by the Braves. Atlanta gave him the start behind the plate and he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs driven in to help his new team to victory over the Mets. Welcome to Atlanta, Frankie.

Cervelli had been rehabbing from a concussion and hadn’t seen big league action since late May. He was ready to come back, though, and the Pirates — who are going nowhere — gave him his release so that he might join a contender for the stretch run.

The performance he put up last night, obviously will not be the norm for him going forward. But it’s also the case that his early 2019 batting line of .193/.279/.248 is not indicative of his talent level either. He posted an .809 OPS (122 OPS+) in 2018, and if he gives Atlanta anything even approaching his usual production it’ll help stabilize a shaky catching situation for the Braves.