10/06/2002 10:40 pm ET
Braves-Giants: The big picture
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
The Giants made a bold statement with their 8-3 win on Sunday night: They are not only still in this playoff series, but they have every intention of winning it.
The Giants had never before won a game in the playoffs when facing elimination since moving to San Francisco. Now they are going to try to do it two days in a row and three time zones apart.
By sending the best-of-five showdown back to Atlanta, the Giants grabbed the momentum back and beat the Braves' most experienced starter twice. And they ruined the Braves' thoughts of starting the NLCS after an extra day of rest and with Kevin Millwood on the mound at home on Wednesday night.
If the Giants get to the NLCS, which then would start in St. Louis on Wednesday, they will have to beat Millwood, who won Game 2 with a very strong performance. Millwood threw 72 pitches in six innings and gave up two runs on only three hits and no walks. J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia hit solo homers off Millwood and they will need to come up big again, along with the middle of the Giants' lineup, in order to advance.
The Braves knew they were going home either way. But they were hoping to be off until Wednesday night. Now, they will have to beat Russ Ortiz, who beat them in Game 1. And then, even if they win, they would go into the NLCS with a struggling top of the lineup and a rotation that's nowhere near as well rested as the Cardinals.
Still, the Braves have a one-game chance to reach their 10th NLCS in the last 11 tries and prove they can bounce back from disappointing losses. Twice.
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.