The Giants faced elimination six times during the playoffs. They were down two games to none in the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds but won the next three contests to advance. In the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants were down three games to one but managed to again win three straight to claim the best-of-seven series, 4-3.
In the World Series, the flair for the dramatic was unnecessary. After a convincing 8-3 win in Game 1, San Francisco won both games two and three by scores of 2-0. On Sunday night, the Giants waited until extra innings to pull off the clinching win.
A key piece to the pitching success of the Giants during the postseason was former Northwestern pitcher George Kontos. Coming out of the bullpen for San Francisco, Kontos saw action in eight postseason games, including one appearance in the World Series.
Kontos was used most often in the NLDS against the Reds. He pitched 3.2 scoreless innings throughout four games, giving up just two hits. He appeared in three games against the Cardinals in the NLCS. During the World Series, he appeared during the Giants' 8-3 Game 1 win.
Kontos was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth-round of the 2006 MLB draft after his third season at Northwestern. After a successful minor league stint, Kontos was called up to the big club in 2011; he pitched in seven games for the Yankees that year.
Shortly before the start of the 2012 season, Kontos was traded to the Giants. He began the season with the Giants' Class AAA team, the Fresno Grizzlies, and in June, was called up to the big leagues for the rest of the season.
Kontos earned his first career win in a relief of Barry Zito on Aug. 29 against the Houston Astros. Kontos finished the 2012 regular season with a 2-1 record and a 2.47 ERA.
Kontos' younger brother, Chris, also played baseball for head coach Paul Stevens at Northwestern. He graduated last spring.
The last Northwestern alum to appear in the World Series was J.A. Happ. He was drafted by the Phillies in 2004 and was on both of their World Series rosters in 2008 and 2009. The Phillies won the series in 2008 against the Tampa Bay Rays, but fell to the Yankees the following year.
Perhaps the most recognizable face in professional baseball to come from Northwestern is New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. As a player, Girardi made his major league debut in 1989 with the Chicago Cubs and, until his retirement in 2003, played for the Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Yankees, and Cardinals.
In 2006, Girardi won the National League Manager of the Year award while at the helm of the Florida Marlins. In 2008, Girardi was offered the Yankees' managerial job and accepted. He won the World Series title with the team in 2009.
By Carsten Parmenter