Take 35-year-old Ryan Vogelsong, whose 13-year minor league career produced a 45-50 record, whose three-year stint in Japan amounted to an 11-14 mark and whose major league line before 2011 was 10-22.
"When I think about Vogey," manager Bruce Bochy said, "I think of perseverance. What this guy has been through — he never quit. He had to go through injuries, going to the minor leagues, Japan, and he was just relentless on getting back to the major leagues.
"Earlier in his career he was a power (pitcher) guy who tried to bully his way through the lineup, and that doesn't work up here. He has figured that out, like a lot of pitchers do. Sometimes it takes (some) longer than others."
Obviously, it took Vogelsong longer than most. But he is here, on the big stage in a huge game for the surprising Giants, who know something about perseverance themselves.
They need "only" to win two of the next three games in Comerica Park to become World Series champions for a second time in three years. And, who's to doubt them after they got this far without their best relief pitcher (Brian Wilson, who was lost to surgery) and hitter (Melky Cabrera, who wasn't reinstated after serving a drug suspension).
"This team has had its tests in the regular season, and so the tests that we encountered in the postseason didn't really make us panic," Game 1 winner Barry Zito said. "(It didn't) as much as it would have if we didn't already have those muscles kind of built up from losing Wilson early, going through the Cabrera situation, just really everything that we had come back from.
"It kind of makes sense that we had some serious adversity because that seemed to ignite us."
The Giants came from behind to beat the Reds in the National League Division Series and then came from behind again to beat the Cardinals in the NLCS.
Vogelsong started three of those games, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.42 ERA.
Don't dismiss Tigers' Game 3 starter Anibal Sanchez, who is 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA in the postseason. But if he can't hold down the suddenly torrid Giants' offense, then the Series basically will be over.
As it is, only seven teams in the last 50 years have come back from a 2-0 deficit, the last being the 1996 Yankees against the Braves. Ten years before that, the Mets used the "Bill Buckner error" to come back against the Red Sox.
In other words, the Tigers are in a tough spot, especially knowing they have to return to AT&T Park if they hope to become champions.
"I don't think too much about the last two games," Sanchez said. "That's in the past. (On Saturday,) we need to forget about what happened in San Francisco. Now we're here, we have a pretty good team and we need to fight to the end."
Said manager Jim Leyland: "The way I look at it is we're two games back with five to play, but we're playing the team we need to catch. You just have to get it across to your guys to embrace the pressure."
Leyland used what he called one of his favorite examples to illustrate what faces the Tigers.
"You study for the test, it's good pressure," he said. "You don't study for the test, it's bad pressure. "