SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will rely on their resilience and Madison Bumgarner's excellence as they strive to subdue the Chicago Cubs and extend their season in Monday's Game 3 of the National League Division Series (6:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. CT on FS1 and FOX Deportes).
But San Francisco's unspoken fear is that the Cubs are immune to the lapses that befell the Giants' recent postseason opponents.
Consider the Giants' nine consecutive postseason victories in elimination games. This streak is impossible to disparage, though some have tried by calling the club lucky. The simple fact is that nine postseason games is more than just a representative sampling. San Francisco's success in these games is legitimate.
However, the Giants must conjure the magic of that streak. They won't make a dent in the 2-0 series deficit they face entering this game unless they begin to hit.
For instance, in NLDS Game 4 at Cincinnati in 2012, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco each homered. Such a lift in this series is hard to envision.
Then, as every Giants fan remembers, Buster Posey belted a grand slam off Mat Latos in the Game 5 clincher. San Francisco might need a similar lightning bolt to stimulate its offense.
Taking a commanding early lead has become a rarity for San Francisco. But in the 2012 NL Championship Series against St. Louis, the Giants quickly established themselves in each elimination game. They led, 4-0, after four innings of Game 5, went in front, 5-0, in Game 6 and built a 7-0 edge after three innings in Game 7.
The Cubs seldom fell prey to such transgressions while recording a Major League-best 103-58 record. And it's worth pointing out that, except for the ninth inning, the Giants' two lowest-scoring innings during the regular season were the first (65) and second (66).
But Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, who's batting .250 (2-for-8) against the Cubs in this series, suggested that an offensive outbreak is possible.
"A hit here or there, it's coming," Pence said. "You just have to keep pushing."
Bumgarner has delivered maximum effort through each second of his Major League career. He was largely responsible for three elimination triumphs, pitching four-hit shutouts in 2014 at Pittsburgh and on Wednesday against the Mets in the NL Wild Card Game. The latter lengthened Bumgarner's streak of consecutive scoreless postseason innings to 23. In between came his remarkable five scoreless innings of relief in World Series Game 7 at Kansas City.
"We can't hang our heads," reliever Javier Lopez said after the Giants' 5-2 loss in Saturday's Game 2. After citing the club's elimination-game streak, Lopez added simply, "We've got Madison going [on Monday]."
Bumgarner's last home postseason appearance was another four-hit shutout in Game 5 of the 2014 World Series against Kansas City.
"I think if you look at Madison's body of work, he's been as good as, and I think better than, any other pitcher in postseason," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com
since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and
listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.