Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco (centre) embraces the Commissioner's Trophy after defeating the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series at Comerica Park in Detroit, Mich., Oct. 28, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
DETROIT - For the second time in three seasons, the San Francisco Giants are World Series champions after completing a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
After three games in which they outscored the Tigers 12-3, the Giants needed extra innings clinch the title Sunday night with a 4-3 10th-inning victory.
Fittingly, it was Marco Scutaro, the mid-season pickup and MVP of the National League Championship Series, who drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the top of the 10th, scoring Ryan Theriot from second base.
Scutaro, the one-time Toronto Blue Jays infielder, ended his amazing playoff run with a .328 batting average and eight RBI in 16 games.
“Marco had so many big hits for us through the playoffs,” said Giants pitcher Matt Cain, who worked seven strong innings, allowing five hits and three runs.
“You worry that there are only so many hits that the baseball gods will allow one guy to have and you worry that maybe he’d used them all up. But he had one more.”
Pablo Sandoval, who hit three home runs in the opening game of the World Series and finished with eight hits in 16 at-bats, was named Series MVP. Over the course of the entire playoffs, he hit .364 with six homers and 13 RBI.
“It’s a team. One guy doesn’t win a title but I’m happy to be the one to accept this for the team,” said Sandoval.
The Giants, a franchise that has now won 21 pennants and seven World Series, became the 21st team to pull off the sweep in the Fall Classic.
While the World Series may have turned into a coronation rather than a struggle to the death, the Giants did a ton of heavy lifting just to get there.
In the first round of playoffs, they dropped the first two games at home against the Cincinnati Reds, then won three in a row at Great American Ballpark to earn a berth in the NLCS. San Francisco proceeded to lose three of the first four games in that series, then won three consecutive elimination games to earn their shot at the Tigers.
For whatever reasons, Detroit just didn’t rise to the occasion in this series. No team had ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win the Series and the Tigers never had the look of an outfit that could pull it off.
“There were no bad breaks and this was no fluke,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s simple. They beat us. Sometimes, if you go to a seventh game and lose, well, you can make a case for saying we were as good as them. Not this time. They beat us. They’re World Series champions and they deserve to be.”
The Tigers couldn’t have been much colder in this series. While their pitching, with the exception of Justin Verlander in Game 1, was outstanding, their offence was unable to find any answers to the Giants’ hurlers, especially their starters, who gave up just four earned runs in 25 1/3 innings. Three of those runs came Sunday night on two swings, a two-run homer by Miguel Cabrera and another solo shot by Delmon Young.
After a strong first inning, Detroit starter Max Scherzer was rocked on back-to-back pitches with one out in the second. Hunter Pence drilled a double that bounced over the fence in centre and then, on the next delivery, Brandon Belt tripled off the wall in right to give San Francisco a 1-0 advantage.
After being shut out in the first two innings by Cain, the Tigers’ futility streak was at an embarrassing 20 innings, but that’s where it ended.
In the third inning, Austin Jackson walked with one out and then Cabrera golfed a tall pop-up into right field that looked as if it would be a can of corn for Pence in right field. He kept drifting back, drifting back, drifting back until there was no more room and the ball was in the seats. The Tigers, at 2-1, had their first lead of the series.
“The wind was inconsistent, we caught a break on Miggy’s ball but there were others that were knocked down by the wind,” said Leyland.
In the top of the sixth, one out after Scutaro had singled to lead off, Buster Posey ripped a shot down the left-field line that settled into the seats just inside the foul pole to once again put San Francisco up by a run, 3-2.
Detroit, unwilling to go down without a fight, came right back in the bottom of the inning when Delmon Young belted his eighth career post-season home run to extend his own franchise record and tie the game at 3-3.
There was a moment of truth for the heart of the Tigers order in the bottom of the eighth inning. Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt came on in relief of Cain. Affeldt promptly walked pinch hitter Avisail Garcia leading off.
“We were feeling pretty good right there,” said Leyland. “(Garcia) really battled to get on base and we had our three big guys coming up.”
With Cabrera, Fielder and Young next in line, this was Detroit’s opportunity. Affeldt struck out all three of them on 12 pitches.
“Affeldt pitched them tough, threw some nasty pitches,” said Leyland.
The winning rally began with DH Theriot’s leadoff single in the 10th off lefty Phil Coke. After Brandon Crawford sacrificed Theriot to second, Coke struck out Pagan. Scutaro then worked the count to 3-1, lashing the next pitch into centre field, easily scoring Theriot with the final and decisive run of the 2012 season.