The San Francisco Giants captured their second World Series title in three years with a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers that followed comebacks during the first two rounds of Major League Baseball’s postseason.
Marco Scutaro’s run-scoring single in the top of the 10th inning gave the Giants a 4-3 victory last night in Detroit and the seventh championship in franchise history.
The Giants, whose 103 regular-season home runs were the fewest among MLB’s 30 teams, won the World Series behind a pitching staff that allowed just seven runs in a seven-game, season-ending winning streak. After staving off elimination six times in rallying to win postseason series against the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants outscored Detroit 16-6 in the World Series and limited the Tigers to 12 hits in the final three games.
“We overcame a lot of adversity, a lot of challenges throughout the year and then six elimination games,” Giants President Laurence Baer said at the post-game trophy presentation. “This team had a lot of heart and the fans of San Francisco behind them.”
Scutaro snapped a 3-3 tie with his two-out single to centerfield off Tigers reliever Phil Coke, who hadn’t allowed a run in his previous nine appearances in the postseason.
Giants relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo held the Tigers hitless over the final three innings in relief of starting pitcher Matt Cain, who allowed three runs over seven innings. Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th and got Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera looking at a called third strike to end the game. The Giants players then raced to the mound to begin a celebration that carried into a champagne-soaked visitor’s clubhouse.
“It was a fitting way for us to end it,” said Giants catcher Buster Posey, who had a two-run home run in the sixth inning to help his team erase its only deficit of the World Series. “Those guys played hard. They didn’t stop. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
The Giants are the third National League team in 68 years with two World Series titles in a three-year span after the 1975-76 Reds and the 1963, 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers.
It’s the 21st World Series sweep since 1903 and the first by an NL team since the 1990 Reds.
“They beat us, they earned it,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We didn’t hit enough. For a team that was down to Cincinnati 0-2 and won, and then fought their way through the other series, they deserve it. They’re world champions.”
The Giants had entered the World Series as underdogs after their first two playoff series went the distance. Odds at Las Vegas sportsbooks following the two league championship series indicated the Giants had a 38 percent chance of beating the Tigers, who had swept the New York Yankees to win the American League pennant.
San Francisco bucked those odds and ran off a streak in which it didn’t trail for 56 postseason innings. The Giants fell short of the 2004 Boston Red Sox’s record of 60 innings as Cabrera hit a two-run home run in the third inning last night to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The Giants ranked eighth among MLB’s 30 clubs with a season-opening player payroll of $118 million, while the Tigers were fifth at $132 million. The team with the higher payroll had won the previous six World Series titles.
While Game 7 starter Cain is regarded as the Giants’ ace and pitched a perfect game on June 13 of this season, a pair of reclamation projects helped fuel the team’s postseason success.
Barry Zito, a former Cy Young Award winner who was left off the Giants’ World Series roster in 2010, went 2-0 with a 1.69 earned run average this postseason. And 35-year-old Ryan Vogelsong, who two years ago was pitching in the minor leagues and the Venezuelan winter league, had a 3-0 record in four starts with a 1.09 ERA. Vogelsong’s postseason ERA was the lowest by a starting pitcher with at least 24 innings since Orel Hershiser had a 1.05 ERA in 1988 for the Dodgers.
“They deserve all the credit,” Posey said of the Giants’ staff. “They executed pitches. They had a game plan going in. Tons of credit to Dave Righetti, our pitching coach.”
The Giants won the title despite the absence of two of their top players and a two-time Cy Young Award winner relegated to pitching in relief.
Relief pitcher Brian “The Beard” Wilson, who had 84 saves over the previous two seasons, appeared in only two games this year before having elbow surgery in April. Outfielder Melky Cabrera was leading the NL with a .346 batting average when he was suspended 50 games by MLB on Aug. 15 for using the banned muscle builder testosterone.
Tim Lincecum, who won NL Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, lost his only postseason start after going 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA during the regular season. He turned things around as a reliever in the playoffs, going 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA over 13 innings in five games. Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who was benched for most of the World Series in 2010, was named Most Valuable Player of the championship round this year after hitting .500 with three homers.
“It was such an unselfish group,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “They played for themselves and the fans, and had a never-say-die attitude. We put them in different roles and they never complained. It makes a manager’s job easy.”
The Giants showed a similar resiliency in the postseason after winning the NL West division title with a 94-68 record.
After falling behind two-games-to-none against Cincinnati in the division series, the Giants rallied to win the final three games. San Francisco was in a 3-1 hole in the NLCS against the defending-champion Cardinals and again won three in a row to reach the World Series.
The Giants entered the championship round with momentum while the Tigers came in rested, having had five days off after completing a four-game sweep of the Yankees in the American League Division series. It was the fourth World Series meeting between a team pushed to a decisive seventh game and a club coming off a sweep. And for the fourth time, the team that played a seven-game LCS went on to win the World Series.
“They pitched their butts off and shut down our bats,” Coke said. “I don’t think the layoff had anything to do with it. They just went out and earned it.”