Monday, October 29, 2012

Giants Tame the Tigers

The Giants came from behind to win in both the Division Series and Championship Series, but there was no such drama in the World Series. The Giants swept the Tigers, outscoring them 16-6, and shutting them out in Games 2 and 3. The Giants rallied from a 0-2 deficit to beat the Reds 3 straight in Cincinnati. San Francisco found themselves down 1-3 to the Cardinals, but rallied to win the last 3 games. The Giants hot streak didn't stop in the World Series either, and they won their final 7 playoff games.

A couple of former Oakland A's played a big role in the Giants playoff run this year. Marco Scutaro was acquired from the Rockies in July, and hit .362 with the Giants. Scutaro played good defense as well, won the NLCS MVP, and hit .328 in the postseason. He was getting a lot of key hits this October. Barry Zito went across the bay after the 2006 season, and has been a dissapointment since signing a big contract. Zito was even left off the postseason roster in 2010. Zito had his best year with the Giants, and won 15 games this year. He also won Game 5 of the NLCS in St. Louis, which was a turning point in the series. Zito won Game 1 of the World Series, and was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 3 starts in the playoffs.

The Giants pitching was great this October. Ryan Vogelsong was 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in 4 starts, and had a good follow up year to his All Star campaign in 2011. Before 2011, Vogey hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2006, toiling in the minors and Japan during that time. Madison Bumgarner had a good regular season, but was bad in his NLCS start. However, he came back in the World Series and pitched a gem. Matt Cain was the Giants ace this year, pitching a perfect game, and starting the All Star game. Cain also won the clinching game of the Division Series, NLCS, and World Series. Tim Lincecum had the worst season of his career, but pitched terrific out of the bullpen in the postseason. If you take out his Game 4 start during the NLCS, Lincecum pitched 13 innings out of the bullpen with a 0.69 ERA.

The Giants closer Brian Wilson went down with an season ending injury in April, and the Giants had to replace their All Star closer. Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, and Javier Lopez all closed out games this year in Wilson's absence, but Sergio Romo took over as closer down the stretch. Romo has had a ERA under 2 and a WHIP under 1 two straight years. Romo also was dominant in the postseason, saving 4 games.

Like 2010, the Giants didn't have a overwhelming offense. They were 6th in the National League with 718 runs scored. Still, it was a major improvement over the 2011 version, which was dead last in the NL. The 2012 team also scored more runs than their 2010 championship team. They also did this without All Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera, who was leading the NL in batting average when he was suspended for PED's. Buster Posey came back from his leg injury, and had a MVP type season. The Kung Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval missed 54 games this year, but had a big October this year. Sandoval only played 6 of 15 games during the 2010 run, but was a middle of the order force this time around. The Kung Fu Panda hit .379 during the playoffs with 6 home runs and 13 RBIs. Sandoval also hit 3 home runs in Game 1 of the World Series, becoming only the fourth player to ever do that, joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols. Sandoval hit .500 during the World Series, and was named the MVP of it.

Hunter Pence was also a big pickup for the Giants at the deadline. They got him from the Phillies and he was a inspirational leader for them this October. They needed him as well because Cabrera would be suspended a few weeks later. While the Giants missed Cabrera's bat, Gregor Blanco played great defense in left and stole 26 bases during the season. Angel Pagan played a terrific center field this year, in his first year with the Giants coming over from the Mets in a offseason trade. Homegrown talent Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford played first and short for the Giants this year. Aubrey Huff was relegated to the bench to make room for Belt. Former Cardinal Ryan Theriot was a utilityman for the Giants this year, and has now won back to back World Series with different teams.

The Giants made the right moves this year picking up Pence, Scutaro, and lefty Jose Mijares. GM Brian Sabean made similar moves in 2010, picking up Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, and Javier Lopez for their stretch run then. The Giants didn't win their first World Series in San Francisco until 2010, but have now won 2 out of the last 3 World Series. Yesterday's win was their 7th World Series title in franchise history. They won 5 in New York in 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, and 1954. The Giants have great pitching, play good defense, get timely hits, steal bases and take the extra base, and play good fundamental baseball. With a core of Sandoval, Posey, Cain, Lincecum, and others they should be contenders for many years.

The Tigers had a terrible World Series after sweeping the Yankees to get there. It was similar to 2006, when they swept the A's and waited the winner of the Cardinals/Mets NLCS which went 7 games. The layoff hurt the Tigers this time around, too. Even with mighty sluggers like Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Tigers only batted .159 for the World Series. That is the third worst team average in World Series history, not the kind of leaderboard you want to be on. Justin Verlander was rocked in Game 1, and the Giants never let up after that. The Tigers have now lost the last 2 World Series they've played in, and haven't won it all since 1984.

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