The San Francisco Giants, who lost their best reliever and top hitter during the season, completed the comeback from a two-game deficit by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in a decisive Game 7 to reach the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro, selected as the series Most Valuable Player after batting .500, opened his mouth wide to catch raindrops in the final inning and then got drenched with champagne in the victorious clubhouse.
“When things are going good, you’ve got to enjoy it, this is what you dream of,” the 36-year-old Scutaro said in an interview while wearing oversized goggles to keep champagne out of his eyes. “Guys play 15 years in the big leagues and never have a chance to play in the World Series.”
The early odds at Las Vegas sportsbooks suggest the Tigers have a 60 percent chance of winning the World Series, said RJ Bell, president of handicapping information website Pregame.com. Detroit is a -160 money line favorite, meaning a winning $160 wager would return $100. The Giants opened at +140, so a winning $100 bet would yield a $140 profit.
The Giants trailed 3-1 in the National League Championship Series before winning the final three games against St. Louis. In the previous playoff round, San Francisco fell behind 2-0 before winning the last three games on the road to beat the Cincinnati Reds in a best-of-five division series.
San Francisco played most of the season without relief pitcher Brian “The Beard” Wilson, who had 84 saves over the previous two seasons and got into only two games this year before having elbow surgery in April. Melky Cabrera was leading the NL in hitting when he was suspended for 50 games on Aug. 15 for using the banned muscle builder testosterone.
“We’ve been unbelievable in not giving up,” Giants outfielder Angel Pagan said. “That’s been the key for us and we showed it in both series.”
The Giants had never won in five previous tries in Game 7 of a postseason series. It was the first seventh game in San Francisco since the 1962 World Series, when the New York Yankees defeated the Giants 1-0 at Candlestick Park.
“They played with more heart and more determination than any club I’ve ever seen,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in an onfield post-game celebration as heavy rain soaked players taking a victorious lap around the field. “They’ve been relentless. They didn’t want to go home and had a never-say-die attitude.”
The Tigers reached the World Series by sweeping all four games against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
Though the Giants will be in their 19th World Series and the Tigers will be making their 11th appearance, this will be the first time they’ve met in the championship round that began in 1903.
Matt Cain, who threw a perfect game in June, got the win last night by allowing five hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Scutaro, who was obtained in a July 27 trade from the Colorado Rockies, went 3-for-4 with a walk.
The last two innings were played in a heavy rainstorm.
“It was weird, it never rains here,” said Scutaro, who played for the neighboring Oakland Athletics in 2004-07 after starting his career with the New York Mets.
The Giants took the lead in the first on a run-scoring groundout by Pablo Sandoval and added another in the second on a run-scoring single by Cain. Hunter Pence broke his bat as he hit a two-run double in San Francisco’s five-run third, an inning in which the Giants sent 11 men to the plate. The eighth run scored in the seventh inning on a double-play grounder and Brandon Belt hit a solo home run in the eighth.
The Cardinals, who won the 2011 World Series, were trying to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Yankees won three straight in 1998-2000.
St. Louis had won its six previous winner-takes-all postseason games, tying the longest streak in MLB history.
“It’s about the team that’s hot, and we went on a cold streak,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said in a news conference. “We got to this point by being that team that was hot and taking advantage of opportunities. But we just couldn’t make it happen these last two games.”
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