"It was a long night for us," Descalso said. "It's nice we had this day off to kind of regroup and get a little rest. But it's hard not to be excited after a game like last night, the way that game ended, and to get on a plane and fly all the way across country. We're still recovering."
The Giants, all the while, waited out the game on their team plane still parked on the tarmac in Cincinnati. Players gathered around iPads to watch the improbable comeback by a Cardinals club managed by former Giants catcher, Matheny.
The Cardinals have won all six of their games when facing elimination the past two years, down to their final strike not once but twice against the Texas Rangers in last year's World Series before prevailing.
This time, they faced the same situation against the team with a majors-best 98 wins.
"I don't why we do it. We love the dramatics. I'd like us to not keep waiting until the last strike," pitcher Kyle Lohse said, "because that's too much for my heart to handle."
The Giants barely beat St. Louis to the West Coast after getting delayed more than three hours as their plane refueled and dealt with mechanical problems.
Initially, the plane had enough fuel to take the NL West winners to Washington. Instead, the Giants got to come home. They landed at 5:09 a.m.
"Everyone was rooting and cheering for the Cardinals because we wanted to go home," third baseman Pablo Sandoval said. "I was cheering for St. Louis. I was excited to be back home. Probably almost everybody was cheering for the Cardinals. Every guy was happy to be home. Once we were in the air, I slept the whole flight."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi fell asleep before the NL clincher ended. The last thing he remembered, the Cardinals were trailing 7-5. His television was still on, and when he opened his eyes at one point he saw the final score.
"I said, 'What happened?'" he said. "I looked at it, the game was over and I closed my eyes and went back to bed. Pretty amazing. You think about the games, and you are down 6-0 and you're able to come back. And you keep going at it. This first round was probably as good as it gets. Probably as good of baseball as we have seen when you talk about eight teams playing."
Bochy will carry all five of his starting pitchers again this round, with Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito available out of the bullpen. Matt Cain is expected to go in Game 3, following fellow right-hander Ryan Vogelsong in Monday's Game 2.
Road weary and riding high, the Cardinals and Giants are counting on more close games and playing all 27 outs no matter who is on the mound.
"It's definitely a fun matchup," said Giants catcher Buster Posey, whose grand slam helped seal Game 5 against the Reds. "These should be some fun games to watch. Both teams have good arms, good offenses. And the resiliency of both teams is the strength of both teams."