DETROIT-The Giants swarmed over the dugout rail at Comerica Park arms raised to the sky and raced to the mound, bouncing around their excited closer Sergio Romo in wild celebration of a well-earned World Series sweep of the heavily favoured Tigers.
It was a moment the 37-year-old Marco Scutaro had been waiting for his entire life. In the top of the 10th inning, the gritty second baseman reached out and slashed a single over second base. The DH Ryan Theriot raced around third and slid home to give the Giants a 4-3 win. Romo entered for the final three outs to earn the save in the bottom of the 10th and the Giants were World Series champions for the second time in the last three seasons.
It seemed fitting Theriot was the one that scored ahead of Scutaro's clutch single. The second base position had once belonged to the 32-year-old Theriot for the first 81 games of 2012. Then on July 27, GM Brian Sabean acquired Scutaro from the Rockies for a minor-leaguer. Now, three months later, the two men had combined for the winning run in the clinching game of the World Series. Theriot know how much it meant to his teammate.
“Marco's Marco, he's been doing the job ever since he got here and without him, we wouldn't be here,” Theriot said, graciously, champagne goggles perched atop his head.
“There's other guys in the locker room as well. There's him and there's Hunter (Pence). There's guys this is their first (World Series ring). It's something special. It's something that doesn't happen a lot. I'm very fortunate and blessed to be on two championship teams. You cherish these moments. You don't take these moments for granted. You thank your lucky stars that you're in this position.”
Theriot was with the Cardinals a year ago when they oulasted the Rangers in seven games. This year, he began the season in San Francisco, with the trade for Scutaro completing a virtual makeover of Giants' position players from 2010, with only catcher Buster Posey playing the same significant role he did against the Rangers, when they won in five games. Scutaro came up big in the NLCS and was MVP vs. the Cards. That''s why they were here.
Nobody thought the Giants could do this once closer Brian Wilson was disabled and out for the year. Nobody thought they could do this once Melky Cabrera, leading the league in hitting at the time and the All-Star Game MVP in July was suspended for 50 games – then told to go home when he became eligible to return. Nobody thought they could do this when Tim Lincecum in the first half looked like the freak instead of The Freak.
“(Manager Bruce Bochy) pushed all the right buttons,” Theriot said admiringly. “The way he handled that bullpen this year was absolutely amazing. I think that's going to be talked about for a long time. Everybody said bullpen by committee and this and that. It was the whole bullpen. I'm talking everybody. Every opportunity they got the job done. You go down the list, those guys, they answered the call.”
Nobody thought the Giants could do this when they faced triple elimination games against both the Reds in the NLDS and the defending champion Cardinals in the NLCS. But here they are finishing the season, finishing the playoffs with a seven-game winning streak.
“When you look at the clubs that we played and having our backs to the wall, it's pretty remarkable what these guys have done,” Bochy said. “It's amazing what a club can do when they do play as a team and they're unselfish and they do whatever they can do to help a club win and that's what these guys did. You know I count my blessings.”
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval set the tone for the World Series with home runs in his first three at-bats of Game 1 and a four-hit game. He batted .500 with eight hits, three homers and four RBIs. He was the World Series MVP.
“I still can't believ that game, it's the game of your dreams,” Sandoval said.”You don't want to wake up. I think this is one of the keys, you know, when you fight and you win. You learn from things tha happen in your career. You get up, you get down. You never give up. I'm just blessed to be here.”
For the first time in the four games of the World Series, the lead changed hands from the Giants to the Tigers and it was a real game, one that ebbed and flowed through a steady rain that didn't dampen the Giants resolve.
But it was not easy. This was a different Tigers team than had rolled over, offensively, for the Giants in the first three games of the Fall Classic. In the bottom of the sixth, with Matt Cain needing a shutdown inning to keep the fans at Comerica out of the equation, DH Delmon Young tied the game with an opposite field blast into the right field stands. It was his eighth post-season homer as a Tiger, the franchise record.
“I'm a little bit flabbergasted, to be honest with you,” Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said in the aftermath of being swept out at home. “I never would have thought that we would have swept the New York Yankees and I never would have thought that the Giants would have swept us. But it happened.”
The Giants took the early lead in the third inning but left a run on the table. With one out, Pence, the emotional leader of this team, doubled one hop into a bush in deep left centre. That was followed by a triple off the right field wall by Brandon Belt. With one out and the second run on third base for the Giants, Max Scherzer manned up and induced a grounder to second by Grego Blanco, right at Omar Infante holding the runner. A flyball to right into the alley by Theriot ended it.
By the way, that Tiger guy, Miguel Cabrera has pretty good power the other way. In the third inning, the Triple Crown champ stayed back and drove a pitch from Cain high and deep to right field. Pence tracked the ball all the way to the fence as it landed two rows up in the bleachers. Cabrera's first homer of the World Series cashed Austin Jackson from second base. Cain had no decision but was the starter in all three clinching games.
“It just seemed like all the pieces fit together,” Cain said. “A lot of us kind of had the same mentality about the game. Nobody really stood out and tried to steal the spotlight.”
The lead for the Tigers on the Cabrera homer was the first in the Series in its 30th inning. When Cabrera stepped on home plate, it was just the Tigers fifth run in those 30 frames.
But the Giants had the answer. Posey, the NL's likely MVP, has been all about quality in his production, not quantity in this post-season. In the sixth inning facing Scherzer, with his team trailing by a run, the league batting champion and Hank Aaron Award winner crushed a changeup that drifted back to the middle of the plate and pulled it fair inside the left field foul pole to give the Giants back a lead that the Tigers only held for two full innings. Posey had also homered in the clinching Game 5 of the NLDS against the Reds, a grand slam at Great American Ball Park that put the game away.
“This guy is an incredible talent,” Bochy said. “His makeup is off the chart. He's to me the MVP, no question. As important is what he did behind the plate in the post-season and helped get this pitching on track. He's the one putting the fingers down and calling the game back there. He's special and for him to come back off that injury shows you how tough he is. But what a special talent.”
For the Giants and their surprising bullpen strength, Cain went seven, relieved by lefthander Jeremy Affeldt in the eighth then winner, Santiago Casilla in the ninth, followed by Romo. The injured resident flake, Brian Wilson, black beard and all, was there to cheer his teammates on, a season that ended with a seventh Giants championship title.