How the Giants' Even-Year Magic Struck the Cursed Cubs in Game 3

The Giants overcame the Cubs in 13 innings last night, keeping their even-year dreams alive.

One of the things that makes baseball's postseason so wonderful are the unlikely heroes who emerge.

The San Francisco Giants have won three world titles in the last three even-numbered seasons (perhaps you've heard this), and along the way, they've been led by some surprise performances.

In 2010, it was Cody Ross. In 2012, Marco Scutaro had the game-winning hit in the deciding Game 4 of the World Series. In 2014, Travis Ishikawa hit this walk-off blast to win the National League pennant for the Giants.

And so here we are, in another even-numbered year, and the Giants are once again making magic in the postseason. This time, however, their narrative has run smack dab into baseball's presumed team of destiny -- the Chicago Cubs, the long-cursed franchise that is still looking for their first world championship since before World War I.

Last night, with the Cubs leading the series 2-0 and needing just one more win to move onto the National League Championship Series, these two storylines ran right into each other.

And, for one game at least, the Giants' magic and the Cubs' near century of misfortunes continued to play out.

Jake Arrieta's Tater

The game was hyped as a duel of aces between the incredible postseason history of Madison Bumgarner (8-3, 1.94 ERA in 97 1/3 career playoff innings entering last night) versus the outstanding Jake Arrieta. But it didn't really work out that way.

In the second inning, Arrieta did something no pitcher had ever done against Bumgarner.

Of course, Arrieta is no slouch at the plate, so this isn't quite the surprise that it ordinarily would be.

After that blast, according to FanGraphs' win probability index, the Giants' odds of winning last night's Game 3 was at 20.5%. By the time the fifth inning was over, the Giants had scratched out two runs against Arrieta, making the score 3-2 and bringing their odds of winning up to 31.1%.

That's when things got crazy.

The Eighth Inning

As they have done so many times before, the Giants got up off the mat, scoring three times in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 5-3 lead over Chicago.

I mentioned earlier that San Francisco has gotten huge contributions from surprise players during their previous World Series runs. This year, it seems the hero is going to be Conor Gillaspie, who already sprinkled the Giants with some pixie dust in the team's wild card win over the New York Mets last week.

Last night, Gillaspie was right in the middle of the action again, hitting a two-run triple that put San Francisco ahead 4-3 in the eighth.

Gillaspie's monster hit improved San Francisco's odds of winning from 36.8% to 91.9%, and the fact he did this against Aroldis Chapman, the guy Chicago acquired mid-season in a trade with the New York Yankees for just this situation, the guy who had allowed left-handers to hit .122/.237/.155 during his career, was even more incredible.

Brandon Crawford followed with an RBI single that scored Gillaspie, pushing San Francisco's odds of winning to 95.2%.

But it wasn't over.

Kris Bryant Goes Yard

For a minute there, it seemed like Chicago's "team of destiny" label was going to win the day, especially after Kris Bryant answered with a dramatic, game-tying two-run shot in the top of the ninth.

And with that, we had a 50/50 ballgame on our hands.

By the way, this was the sixth lead the San Francisco bullpen has blown in the ninth inning since the start of September.

No Panik

In the end, however, the Giants found a way, as they have done every other even year since 2010.

In the bottom of the 13th, after most of the country had already gone to bed, Crawford led off the inning with a double. It was a huge play that put San Francisco at 79.3% to win the game.

And Joe Panik, no stranger to postseason heroics he, followed with a double of his own, walking off the Giants and keeping San Francisco's season alive for one more day.

And the FanGraphs' win probability chart told the tale.

Make no mistake. The Cubs are still in control of this series. They hold a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five and still have two more chances to move onto their first NLCS since 2003.

But for one night at least, the Giants' even-year pixie dust was enough to hold off the team of destiny.