DETROIT — Everything has conspired this month to disguise or diminish the feats of the San Francisco Giants. From the dangers and distractions of a gigantic storm to a presidential election, the Giants have been shouldered aside. Yet in a postseason that had few dramatic games, the world champion Giants have now completed 20 days of magnificent marvels.
In that span, they have come back from a two-game deficit to beat the Cincinnati Reds in a division series. Then they rose from the near dead and another two-game deficit to steal the National League pennant from the St. Louis Cardinals, outscoring them, 20-1, in the last three games. That’s six — count ’em, s-i-x — elimination games that Frisco survived. Only one other team in postseason ever did it: the 1985 Royals.
On a night of cold, wind, and rain, the San Francisco Giants combined great pitching, timely hitting and sharp defense to sweep the Detroit Tigers in a 4-3 victory. It was the Giants second World Series title in three seasons.
San Francisco turned into a big street party late Sunday after the Giants won their second World Series in three years. Some fans showed off their brand new Giants World Series Championship T-shirts.
Now, the Giants have pushed against the boundaries of baseball possibility again. On Sunday night here at cold, misty Comerica Park, San Francisco completed a sweep of the almost universally favored Detroit Tigers, a team that reached this World Series riding the crest of a sweep of its own — a four-game trouncing of New York that left the Yankees almost mortified.
This is only the third time that a team has swept a World Series from a team that arrived fresh from its own league championship series sweep.
In this World Series, the Giants beat the Tigers with power — three homers in Game 1 by series MVP Pablo Sandoval. Then they shut out the powerful Tigers lineup by identical back-to-back 2-0 scores, the first time since ’66 that a team had pitched such consecutive beauties. Only one thing was left to prove. Or, actually, reprove.
Everyone knows that, with the implosion of the once-formidable Tigers closer Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde, Detroit has had to change almost every role in its bullpen. In particular, lefty Phil Coke was suddenly asked to be a closer in some situations or work multiple innings in others because . . . well . . . because Manager Jim Leyland doesn’t trust anybody else very much.
So, the stage was set: for too much to be asked of Coke. The southpaw worked a scoreless ninth inning, as much he’s usually required to provide. But this time, as the excellent Giants bullpen kept putting up zeroes, Coke came back out for the 10th. The result was not refreshing.
Ryan Theriot poked a leadoff single to right field. The use of such a veteran Punch-and-Judy hitter as designated hitter — usually a power spot — was an inspired, unconventional choice by Giants Manager Bruce Bochy.
Rookie Brandon Crawford sacrificed Theriot to second. That also was pure Giants. Even the youngest of them have fundamentals drilled deep from their first day in the organization. In one-run and two-run games, the torture chamber the Giants enjoy so much, they use those basic plays to set up victory after victory. Fittingly, their last three wins — by 2-0, 2-0 and 4-3 — were testaments to baseball played as classically as if these were the 1912 Giants of John McGraw. (Except those Giants a hundred years ago lost the World Series.)