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GIANTS WIN IT ALL


The San Francisco Giants swept away the Detroit Tigers Sunday, winning their second World Series title in three seasons following a 4-3 extra-inning win at Comerica Park in Detroit. The Tigers were heavily favored to win the Series; 23 of 28 ESPN commentators predicted the trophy was destined for Detroit. The Giants could not have cared less.

All season long this Giants team won when critics said they could not. Although they fell behind two games to none in the first round of the playoffs against the Cincinnati Reds, the Giants stormed back, winning three straight on the road. In Game 3, they won in extra-innings despite collecting only one hit through the first nine innings. Buster Posey smashed a grand slam in Game 5 that made it 6-0 Giants. They went on to win 6-4 and advanced to the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Once more, the Giants were picked to lose. And once more, they fell in an early hole. Trailing three games to one in the series, the Giants fought back. Barry Zito resurged in 2012 following years of harsh criticism for his huge contract and poor performance as a Giant.

He was left off the playoff roster in 2010. His impressive 2012 season was made all the more sweet when he pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings against a potent Cardinals lineup in St. Louis in Game 5 to keep the Giants’ season alive. Ryan Vogelsong allowed just one run in seven innings at AT&T Park in Game 6, and the Giants once again came all the way back to force a deciding game.

Game 7 was predicted to be a pitchers’ duel between staff aces Matt Cain and Kyle Lohse. Once more, San Francisco exceeded expectations and the game was out of hand by the fourth inning. The Giants jumped all over Lohse, knocking him around for five runs on six hits in 2+ innings. The Giants held a 9-0 lead and were three outs away from showering one another with champagne when the skies opened up. In the ninth inning, it poured.

Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro raised his palms to the sky and looked up into the rain with a smile; he would be named the MVP of the series. In the pouring rain in front of a raucous sellout crowd, Sergio Romo got Matt Holliday to pop out to Scutaro, and the soaking Giants had a date with destiny.

In the American League, the Tigers were coming off a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees, and many thought they would obliterate the Giants in the 108th World Series. Crafty left-handed veteran Barry Zito opposed reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in Game 1. Entering the start, Verlander had a 3-0 record and a miniscule 0.82 ERA in the 2012 playoffs. The Giants were unimpressed.

Pablo Sandoval started the scoring frenzy in the first inning with a solo home run to center field on a 95-mph letter-high fastball. In the third, Sandoval did it again. He blasted the outside-corner pitch over the left field wall for a two-run shot that made the score 4-0 Giants. Verlander allowed five earned runs and was pulled out of the game after just four innings.

Sandoval was not done. The affectionately nicknamed Kung Fu Panda cracked his third home run of the game to dead center field off Al Albuquerque in the fifth inning. Sandoval became just the fourth player in history to hit three home runs in one World Series game. He joined legends Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols as the only players to accomplish the feat. The Panda finished 4 for 4 (he added an opposite field bullet single, just for good measure) and the Giants won the game 8-3.

Twenty-three-year-old left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner allowed just two hits over seven shutout innings in the Giants’ Game 2 victory. Journeyman Ryan Vogelsong took the ball for manager Bruce Bochy in Game 3, and he delivered. Quietly one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons, Vogelsong led the National League in ERA for much of the first half of the season (yet he somehow was overlooked and failed to make the All-Star team).

Vogelsong continued his masterful postseason in Game 3, shutting out the Tigers for 5 2/3 innings. He concluded the playoffs with a 3-0 record and a pristine 1.09 ERA. The Giants won 2-0 for the second consecutive game and took a commanding 3-0 lead in the Series.

Meanwhile, many so-called “experts” were flabbergasted. Analysts with ESPN could not figure out why the Tigers were losing and talked of the Tigers’ struggles instead of the Giants’ dominance. We saw the same thing in 2010.

The Phillies and Rangers were supposed to bludgeon the Giants with potent offense, but the Giants’ dominant pitching shut them down, just like they did in the last three games against the Cardinals and in the first three games against the Tigers. Although many people failed to give the Giants the respect they deserved, they were one win away from securing their second championship in three years.

And they got it done. Likely NL MVP Buster Posey hit a go-ahead home run. Brandon Crawford continued to prove he is the best defensive shortstop in the league. The Giants’ bullpen dominated Detroit’s dangerous hitters. Scutaro delivered another clutch hit as he put the Giants ahead for good in extra innings.

Sergio Romo came in to pitch the Giants to a title.

With two outs and nobody on base in a 4-3 game in the 10th inning, Romo faced probable AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, who homered earlier in the game. Romo shook off Posey’s sign for a slider. He wanted to throw a fastball. Romo came set, wound, and fired. His two-seam fastball cut from left to right across the outside edge of the plate. The 89-mph two-seam fastball froze Cabrera for a called strike three. Posey and the Giants mobbed the mound. The Series was over.

The Giants swept the mighty Tigers in four games, shocking the baseball world. And while some “experts” may not agree, the Giants are the best in the business and the Bay Area boasts a dynasty.