SAN FRANCISCO -- They did it again Monday night, for the sixth time in two weeks, winning a game they absolutely had to win to extend their fabulous postseason.
The Giants not only dethroned the St. Louis Cardinals with this 9-0 paddling but also snatched away their credentials as baseball's most resilient team.
How can that not be the Giants after what they have done, coming back from the brink to drop both Cincinnati and St. Louis?
By going undefeated in the six elimination games to win the National League pennant?
If the hardest roads create the hardiest souls, the Giants could not be better prepared for what's to come with the World Series beginning Wednesday in San Francisco, where they will try to tame the Detroit Tigers.
Finally, these Giants will confront three things they have not seen this postseason or ever.
One, their pitchers will face a Triple Crown winner, Detroit third baseman and No. 3 hitter Miguel Cabrera. Neither St. Louis nor Cincinnati has a comparable hitter.
"He is ... awesome," Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco said during the champagne-soaked celebration in the clubhouse.
Two, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy will match wits with perhaps the most revered sage of a skipper in the game, Jim Leyland. These guys smell like old baseball gloves and they're so schooled in the game their brain waves might be visible to the naked eye.
But the biggest challenge of all for the Giants comes immediately, in Game 1, when their lineup goes after the best starting pitcher in baseball, Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander.
Bochy said he wasn't that familiar with Detroit because he was "totally focused" on the Cardinals. Yet he clearly was aware of at least one member of the Tigers.
"I know what a great club they are," Bochy said, "and we know all about the guy we'll be facing (in Game 1)."
Verlander is the reigning A.L. MVP and Cy Young Award winner, accomplishing a double crown only one man, Oakland's Dennis Eckersley, in 1992, has managed over the past 25 seasons.
If the Giants can get to Verlander, they will win the Series.
Getting to Verlander, however, is quite the massive task. He has been spectacular this postseason, winning all three of his starts, allowing 10 hits and two earned runs over 241/3 innings. He has stuck out 25 and walked five while posting an ERA of 0.74.
He has not lost a game since Sept. 8 and during that time opponents are 1 for 29 with runners in scoring position. Verlander is that ace who gets stronger as the game goes on, and finds another level when he needs it.
And he's only the ace of a staff that over the past 18 days has been baseball's best.
Following Verlander likely will be Doug Fister, then Anibal Sanchez when the Series goes to Detroit for Game 3. Max Scherzer, who put away the Yankees, most likely will start Game 4.
"A lot of hard throwers, guys with great velocity," Blanco said of a staff that rang up 1,318 strikeouts in the regular season, a total surpassed only by Tampa Bay in the American League.
In defeating the A's in the ALDS and sweeping the Yankees in the ALCS, the Detroit staff went a span of 301/3 innings without allowing a run. As good as Tigers pitching was against Oakland (.194 opponent's batting average, .284 slugging), it was better against New York (.157, 224).
"We have to be on top of our game when we go against those guys,'' first baseman Brandon Belt said. "If we're not, they will expose it."
That's the fear, I suppose. That the Tigers will bring the kind of pitching heat the Giants haven't seen.
There is not so much to fear, though, about Detroit's bullpen. The closer, Jose Valverde, had a marvelous regular season but has been such a mess in the postseason that he lost his job.