He kept the ball low and away pitch after pitch, striking out the first two batters in the bottom of the tenth. Saving the best pitch for last, Sergio Romo then threw an inside fastball to catch Miguel Cabrera looking at strike-three for the final out. The San Francisco Giants are World Champions again. Their second championship in three years was capped off by a quick and decisive sweep of the Detroit Tigers.
Not since the Big Red Machine in the ’70′s has a National League team won two titles in a three-year-span. The Giants possibly have a dynasty in the making because of their pitching and defense. While hitting isn’t always there, it is quality pitching that wins over a long season. And if you can have good defense and timely hitting to go with it, than even better. This is what the Giants have. When their pitching needed to step up, it did. When their defense was needed to make big plays, it did. And at the best possible time, their bats came through in clutch at-bat after clutch at-bat.
“When pitching is your strength, you want a good defense,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “That shows up every day. … Hitting sometimes, it comes and goes. But as long as you can stay in more games, the better chance you have of winning them, and that’s how we play.”
It was fitting for NLCS MVP, Marco Scutaro, to drive in the winning run in the tenth. He has been the epitomy of this team’s clutch hitting. The game was tied 3-3 in the tenth when Ryan Theriot hit a lead off-single off of Phil Coke. Theriot then moved to second base on a text-book sacrifice bunt by Brandon Crawford. And Scutaro, of course, drove him in with a single to center.
Romo then got the save in the bottom half of the inning.
“That’s what makes it so much special, the way we did it,” said Scutaro. “We’re always against the wall and my team, it just came through first series, second series and now we sweep the Tigers.”
The Giants are a deserving team because they are a complete team that can do all the little things. To go with their great pitching and defense and clutch hitting, they can also hit for power. Two years ago, Pablo Sandoval rode the bench in the World Series. This time he won the series MVP by going 8-16 with four RBI’s. But it was his three home-run performance in Game 1 (two off Justin Verlander) that set the tone for the series.
“You learn,” Sandoval said. “You learn from everything that happened in your career. … We’re working hard to enjoy this moment right now.”
The Giants got hot when it matters most. They finished the year by winning their final seven games for their seventh title. For 56 years San Francisco had not won a World Series. Now they’ve won two in three years.
The Giants are a perfect example of “it’s not how you start, it’s how finish”. They got swept in the first season series in Arizona and were under .500 by mid-May. They quickly lost closer, Brian Wilson, who under went season-ending elbow surgery. The MVP of the All-Star game and their best hitter, Melky Cabrera, was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for PED’s. And Tim Lincecum struggled all year and was moved to the bullpen. But by trading for Scutaro and Hunter Pence, and by relying on the strong pitching of Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, the Giants overcame all this adversity. By the middle of July they passed the Dodgers in the NL West and maintained their divison lead by ending the regular season with 94 wins.
The San Francisco Giants are a resilient team. One that does not know when to go home. They were the first team to win five elimination games in a row in a single postseason. They came back from 0-2 and 3-1 deficits to the Reds and Cardinals and carried their momentum from the NLCS into the World Series. A line-up and pitching staff that was on fire dominated the overly-rested Tigers. The Giants had a combined 1.42 ERA, outscored the Tigers 16-6 and held them to a .159 batting average.
“Obviously, there was no doubt about it. They swept us,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “So there was certainly no bad breaks, no fluke. Simple, they did better than we did,” he continued. “It was freaky. I would have never guessed we would have swept the Yankees and I would have never guessed the Giants would have swept us.”
So congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for winning the 2012 World Series. They overcame the odds, fought back, and swept the heavily favored Tigers. Right now they are the model organization in, not only how to win, but how to win the right way.