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In a World of their own
Pitching the difference for triumphant Fall Classic winners
DETROIT — Finally pressed in the World Series, the San Francisco Giants finished off a most unexpected and stunning sweep.
Marco Scutaro delivered one more key hit this October, hitting a go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th inning that lifted the Giants over the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in Game 4 on Sunday night.
Nearly eliminated over and over earlier in the playoffs, the Giants sealed their second title in three seasons when Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera looked at strike three right down the middle for the final out.
On a night of biting cold, stiff breezes and some rain, the Giants combined the most important elements of championship baseball — great pitching, timely hitting and sharp defence.
Series MVP Pablo Sandoval and the underdog Giants celebrated in the centre of the diamond at Comerica Park after winning six elimination games this post-season.
"Tonight was a battle," said Giants star Buster Posey, who homered. "And I think tonight was a fitting way for us to end it because those guys played hard. They didn’t stop, and it’s an unbelievable feeling."
Cabrera delivered the first big hit for Detroit, interrupting San Francisco’s run of dominant pitching with a two-run homer that blew over the right-field wall in the third.
Posey put the Giants ahead 3-2 with a two-run homer in the sixth and Delmon Young hit a tying home run in the bottom half.
It then became a matchup of bullpens, and the Giants prevailed.
Ryan Theriot led off the 10th with a single against Phil Coke, moved up on Brandon Crawford’s sacrifice and scored on Scutaro’s shallow single. Centre-fielder Austin Jackson made a throw home, to no avail.
Sergio Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th for his third save of the Series.
The Giants finished the month with seven straight wins and their seventh Series championship. They handed the Tigers their seventh straight World Series game loss dating to 2006.
"Obviously, there was no doubt about it. They swept us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "So there was certainly no bad breaks, no fluke.
"Simple, they did better than we did."
An NL team won the title for the third straight season, a run that hadn’t occurred in 30 years. Some find the streak surprising, considering the AL’s recent dominance in interleague play. Yet as every fan knows, the club that pitches best in the post-season usually prevails.
Until the end, the Tigers thought one big hit could shift the momentum. It was an all-too-familiar October lament — Texas felt the same way when the Giants throttled them in 2010, and Tigers knew the feeling when St. Louis wiped them out in 2006.
Howling winds made it feel much colder than the 7 C at game time. Two wrappers blew across home plate after leadoff man Angel Pagan struck out, and fly balls played tricks in the breeze.
The Giants started with their pregame ritual. They clustered around Hunter Pence in the dugout, quickly turning into a bobbing, whooping, pulsing pack, showering themselves with sunflower seeds.
And once again, San Francisco took an early lead. Pence hit a one-hop drive over the centre-field fence for a double and Brandon Belt tripled on the next pitch for a 1-0 lead in the second.
The next inning, with two outs and a runner on first, Cabrera lofted an opposite-field fly to right — off the bat, it looked like a routine out shy of the warning track. But with winds gusting over 40 km/h, the ball kept carrying, Pence kept drifting toward the wall and the crowd kept getting louder.
Just like that, it was gone.
Cabrera’s homer gave Detroit its first lead of the Series, ending its 20-inning scoreless streak.
The Giants became the first champion that hit the fewest home runs in the majors since St. Louis in 1982.
— The Associated Press
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