SAN FRANCISCO The Giants, who didn't face a win-or-go-home situation once they reached the playoffs in 2010, played their fifth elimination game of this postseason Sunday.
To reach the National League Championship Series, they needed to win three consecutive games in Cincinnati in the division series.
To reach the playoffs, they needed to weather the loss of their top hitter and closer during the season while their two-time Cy Young Award winner battled a summer-long funk.
The question was put to Giants general manager Brian Sabean this weekend: When a team shows resiliency, can you pinpoint the source?
"I honestly don't know," Sabean said. "In some ways, it's just a human group dynamic. There's an old saying in sports, it's not how good you are, it's how well you play. I don't know if they love to win as much as they hate to lose.
"It's just a throwback type of team in that they enjoy coming to the ballpark, they respect the game, they love playing the game. They really realize what's at stake and making a name for themselves."
Sabean said he's trying not to let the stress of repeated do-or-die games get to him. He sits in his booth, not in the stands, he said, and stays busy taking notes.
Glory days Game 5 of the division series against the Reds, a 6-4 Giants win, was not the first winner-take-all game Matt Cain has pitched in his baseball life.
"We had a game my senior year of high school that was to go to state against our rival school," said the Giants right-hander. "But that didn't work out so well for me."
Cain said his mind flashed back to that game during the start against the Reds, and that he "tried to use that, go out there and still have fun with it, enjoy it."
A reporter reminded Cain that, two years ago, Madison Bumgarner likened starting the clinching game of the division series against Atlanta to pitching in his high school state championship game.
"I don't remember if I was one of those guys that made fun (of Bumgarner) about it," Cain said. "I probably did. But in a way, that's a lot of times what this game is.
"You almost have to revert back when you were in Little League because the game is about having fun. And sometimes when you put too much onto it, it kind of ruins the moment for you and you don't end up playing as well as you'd like to."
Tweak made Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner fixed a flaw in his delivery that he noticed in his two playoff starts, in which he allowed 10 earned runs over eight innings. Bumgarner threw 10 pitches off a mound during the Giants' optional workout Saturday to hammer home the adjustment.
"He didn't realize a couple of things he was doing," Bochy said. "One in particular was the bigger turn that he was making. Sometimes you do that to add a little bit to your fastball."
First time According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when the Giants won in St. Louis in Game 5, they became the first team in major league history to win four elimination games on the road in the same postseason.