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The rising legend of Conor Gillaspie

A bomb to right center field in the wild card wasn’t enough for Conor Gillaspie.

So he came through again Monday night with the season on the line, tripling to right field to keep the Giants breathing in the National League Division Series.

Gillaspie’s legend is growing, rapidly, and there’s good reason.

The Giants have hardly been strangers to guys coming through in the clutch. Even among contributors whose resumes may be starkly absent of major league stardom, Gillaspie is different for one particular reason.

The Giants drafted Gillaspie in the first round of the 2008 draft, dealing him to the Chicago White Sox after he failed to produce the way they’d hoped. His name is known to devout fans, but not to the majority of park dwellers these days.

He’s what the Giants hoped Jeff Francoeur would become in 2013, a guy struggling to find his way but without the right spot to do it in.

Fitting right in with the playoff magic the world has seen from Giants players over the years, the Andres Torres and Edgar Renteria type, or more appropriately, the Cody Ross or Marco Scutaro additions.

Maybe none of those are totally appropriate.

The Giants haven’t won this playoff series yet, and Gillaspie came back to the Giants just hoping to make the team out of camp this spring.

But this is still too familiar.

The Giants beat Cincinnati in three straight games during 2012 NLDS en route to a title — a half truth, only because all three were elimination games. The Reds were a hitting juggernaut, with quality pitching and a strong closer named Aroldis Chapman. They also lacked experience in the postseason.

Just like the Cubs.

The Giants notched their first win of that series when Scott Rolen failed to scoop a grounder hit by Joaquin Arias, and Posey scored to win it. After the Giants exploded for eight runs and won Game 4, Brandon Crawford started a rally in the fifth inning, playing his first full season, which ended with six runs on the board and ultimately the series.

The Giants played the final three games of the NLCS with their season on the line, in full-blown elimination mode, and advanced to win it all in a four-game sweep of Detroit.

Joe Panik‘s smash to right Monday night, sending Crawford home in the 13th inning, was the walk-off that ended the eve. But there’s no forgetting the other man.

Gillaspie is helping the Giants get there, and they’re awful close. And being the hero, being the guy who elevates the Giants to a title, even if the contributions are early in the postseason, is the stuff of legend these days.

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