They don't have the big names, a Triple Crown winner or a $200m-plus slugger. But for the second time in three years the San Francisco Giants rule baseball, clinically completing a four game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to win one of the most lopsided World Series in recent years.
The Giants may have started baseball’s showpiece event as underdogs. But they proved the truth of the game’s oldest adage – that good pitching beats good hitting. The Tiger’s vaunted hitters turned into lapcats, none more so than clean-up hitter Prince Fielder, who eked out just one hit in the entire Series, batting an abysmal 0.71. Over the four games, Detroit scored just six runs.
What offensive fireworks there were came from San Francisco in Game One, when Pablo Sandoval slammed three homers in his first three at bats in an 8-3 rout of the Tigers, a feat matched by only three players in baseball and which earned the rotund Sandoval (nickname ‘Kung Fu Panda’) the Series MVP award.
“We're just happy right now,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “This tonight was a fitting way for us to end it. Those guys played hard; they didn't stop.” Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn’t disagree. “No bad breaks. We got beat. They earned it. We didn't hit enough. You just turn the page and move on, and congratulations to the Giants.”
Those reactions were mirrored in the two cities. On the West Coast, thousands of fans took to the streets in joy, in a warm-up for Wednesday's tickertape parade through downtown San Francisco, to fete their heroes’ return to the Bay City. In damp and frigid Detroit however, there was nothing to cheer – just resignation, frustration and anticlimax, as the 28-year wait for a Tigers’ world title continues.
Before the fourth and final game, the Tigers had not once held the lead in the Series. When finally they did – thanks to a two-run homer from Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the third innings – it lasted only two innings, as Giants catcher Buster Posey repaid Detroit in kind at the top of the sixth.
Delmon Young tied things up at 3-3 with a solo homer in the bottom of that inning. But as San Francisco’s formidable bullpen took over, inevitability settled over proceedings. Marco Scutaro’s two-out RBI single at the top of the tenth was all that Giants closer Sergio Romo needed, striking out the three hitters he faced, the last of them Cabrera himself. As usual, Detroit couldn’t even get a foot in the door.
If a Series short on truly dramatic moments will not live long in the memory, San Francisco’s astonishing march through the post-season ought to. Six times, in the division series and then in the National League championship match-up with the St Louis Cardinals, they faced elimination, but all six games they won. Then, after being 3-1 down to St Louis, they reeled off seven straight wins, outscoring their opponents 36-7.