The San Francisco Giants capped a wild post-season ride by beating the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in 10 innings on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep and be crowned World Series champions for the second time in three years.
Marco Scutaro, the most valuable player in the National League Championship Series, was again the hero for the Giants, cracking a sharply hit single into shallow centre to bring in Ryan Theriot with the winning run.
As the Giants stampeded out of the dugout, jumping up and down in celebration after the final out in the bottom of the 10th, a sullen crowd turned away and quietly exited Comerica Park, disinterested in joining the party.
Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval, who slammed three homers in Game One, had added reason to celebrate after being voted the Series most valuable player.
Having survived six do-or-die elimination games in the National League Division and Championship Series, the Giants closed out the season in ruthless fashion, reeling off seven consecutive wins to secure their seventh world championship.
“What made them so special was they were such an unselfish group, they just loved each other and played for each other and the fans and had a never say die attitude,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said at the trophy presentation.
“It’s amazing what a group of guys who play like a team can accomplish. I’m numb that we have won two World Series in the last three years.”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was also left feeling dazed as he watched his team swept from the World Series just days after breezing past the New York Yankees in a minimum four games in the American League Championship Series.
Detroit’s failure to win a game marked the 21st time a team had been swept from a World Series.
“I’m a bit flabbergasted to be honest with you,” Leyland said. “I never would have thought we would have swept the New York Yankees and I never would have thought the Giants would have swept up but it happened.
“It’s a freaky game.”
Certainly one of the freakiest elements of the series was Detroit’s lack of production at the plate.
The only thing colder than the Michigan weather was Detroit’s bats with triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera and slugger Prince Fielder going a combined 4-for-27 over the four games.
“We got beat, you can’t sit up here and try and find some reason or excuse,” Leyland lamented.
“They beat us, they earned it. We didn’t hit enough.”
After back-to-back shutouts and 20 scoreless innings, Detroit’s batters finally woke from their slumber with Cabrera and Delmon Young both slamming homers off Giants starter Matt Cain, but it was too little too late.
No team has ever erased a 3-0 deficit to win a World Series and the Tigers dug the hole a little deeper when they fell behind 1-0 in the second inning.
Hunter Pence doubled to the wall in deep centre for Giants first hit then trotted home when Brandon Belt drilled a triple into the right field corner to silence a shivering sell-out crowd.
However, Tigers fans were back on their feet cheering wildly in the third when Cabrera took a 1-1 offering from Cain and crushed a towering two-run homer into the right field bleachers to give Detroit their first lead of the series.
Buster Posey answered with a two-run blast in sixth that slipped just inside the left field foul pole but the fireworks continued in the bottom of the inning with Young launching a solo shot over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3.
The Tigers had a glorious opportunity to take control in the eighth when Avisail Garcia was issued a lead off walk with their big bats lined up to drive in the go ahead run.
But Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt defused the threat by striking out Cabrera, Fielder and Young in quick succession.
Cain allowed the Tigers three runs on five hits in seven innings of work before handing the ball over to the bullpen, Santiago Casilla coming on in the ninth to get the final out of the inning and the win while Sergio Romo struck out the side in the 10th to record the save.
“I definitely thought it was going to be down to the wire,” said Cain, who adds a World Series title to a resume that includes a perfect game earlier in the season. “It just so happens that we got kind of hot and scored some runs at the right time.
“All these games were close.”