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Short series, classic finishes, and an October weekend without baseball

SAN FRANCISCO — A decade from now, even a year from now, this National League Championship Series may seem like a blowout. The San Francisco Giants, in the midst of a five-year run that can be characterized as either impressive or unlikely, put away the St. Louis Cardinals in five games. Busch Stadium waited to welcome all those fans in red this weekend, the Cardinals still alive. Alas, it will sit quiet and empty.

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Gordon’s homer in 10th helps Royals top O’s, 8-6

BALTIMORE — The baseball tore a hole through rain and the wind and the mid-October chill before it splashed into a stunned sea of orange. In the lower bowl of Camden Yards, a rowdy pocket of Kansas City Royals fans leapt to their feet. All around them sat Baltimore Orioles fans stunned by the 10th inning feat of Alex Gordon and his game-winning homer in an 8-6 victory on the first night of the American League Championship Series.

Giants beat Pirates 8-0 in NL Wild Card to advance

PITTSBURGH — The streets here Wednesday afternoon were crawling with black T-shirts and Pirate caps. The Roberto Clemente Bridge, over the Allegheny River connecting downtown to PNC Park, filled with equal parts beer and hope, which have an interesting relationship to begin with. The novelty of playoff baseball came a year ago, when a two-decade postseason drought was broken. These fans who packed the yard to back their Pittsburgh Pirates weren’t blindly delirious, delivering a civic exhale. They expected more.