Having to play your way into the NLDS was a stressful experience for San Francisco Giants' skipper Bruce Bochy, whose 2010 and '12 Giants won the NL West before going on to win the World Series in each postseason run.
After the win over the Pirates, Bochy talked to reporters about the Wild Card experience.
"This is‑‑ I mean, this game, there's so much at stake," Bochy said. "A bad hop, anything can send you home. There's a lot of pressure on the players. It's always nice to have so many guys who have been in that situation before. They know how to handle themselves. I think it really benefited us here today."
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo cited the postseason experience on the Giants' roster as one of the reasons they will be a tough opponent when he spoke to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday afternoon before learning that it would be the Giants coming to D.C. for Friday's series opener.
"[They] bring you the experience and knowing how to win and win big games," Rizzo said.
"They're an incredibly versatile bunch and they know how to win games," he explained at another point in the interview.
"They run big-time starters at you and a bullpen that is very under-the-radar, but very effective."
The Pirates were a tough team as well, but the Giants, who weren't exactly on fire in a 13-12 September, were able to win the Wild Card game over a Pittsburgh team that went 17-9 in the final month of the regular season.
"Pittsburgh was really on a roll," Bochy said last night. "They were playing great. They've been so tough here at home. They beat us in the season series. We had our hands full, I know it."
Giants' lefty Madison Bumgarner stopped the Pirates' run, however, with a complete game shutout in PNC Park.
"It always starts with the guy on the mound," Bochy said, "and Madison set the tone early."
Now the Giants are set to take on the Nationals, who were 5-2 against San Francisco this season, winning three of four in AT&T Park and two of three in D.C.
The Nats wrapped up the 2014 regular season with a 19-8 September and finished at 96-66 on the year with the NL's best record.
"Yeah, there's a lot of work ahead of us," Bochy said.
"We know that. We're going to be facing a very good club coming up. All you want's a chance. We said that when we got to this game. We just wanted a chance. That's all you can ask in this game."
Giants' right-hander Tim Hudson, who went (2-0) in two outings against the Nationals this summer in his 16th major league season, with a 0.73 ERA, three walks (2.19 BB/9), eight Ks (5.84 K/9) and a .239/.286/.304 line against in 12 ⅓ IP, was somewhat less diplomatic about the value of San Francisco's experience as compared to Washington's obvious talent.
"'Obviously they have a talented group over there, there’s no question,'" Hudson told veteran Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga.
"'They have some great pitching. But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs? That’s going to take you real far. And I think we’ve got a group in here that really has some of that.'"
So Hudson lands the first [low] blow... with the decidedly un-PC commentary. He'll get a chance to back it up on the mound in the NLDS. He'll be the Game 2 starter on Saturday afternoon in Nats Park.