Depending on what coast you’re nearest, there is one of two headlines dominating your news. On the east coast, with the Nationals, Yankees, and Orioles eliminated, the news is all about Sandy, Sandy, and Sandy. But over on the west coast, after last night’s extra-inning victory, the story is all about Pandy, Pandy, and Pandy.
And, of course, his 2012 World Champion Giants.
The brilliance of the World Series is that it takes four wins to eliminate your opponent. So with San Francisco’s pounding of Detroit in Games 1 through 3, we saw tonight, not unlike Hurricane Sandy, coming a long ways away.
No team down 3 games to 0 in the World Series had ever come back to claim win the title, so on Friday night, as the Giants shutout the slugging Tigers for a second consecutive night, the question shifted from “if” to “when”.
And “when” didn’t have to wait long, although it seemed to be up in the air for some time. Detroit, finally showing some fight, enjoyed a 2-1 lead for much of the game. Then, in the top of the sixth, the Giants took a 3-2 lead. But in the last of that same inning, Detroit put one more run of their own on the board to notch the game at 3.
And for three innings, 3-3 is where it stayed. Heading into extra innings, almost everyone knows what went down. Theriot on second, Scutaro with a base knock, and San Fran goes up. And, in the bottom of that inning, Detroit went down.
And, despite who was spraying the champagne Sunday night, the Tigers were almost the bigger story in this latest edition of the fall classic. Don’t get me wrong, the Giants were brilliant and dominant and all that jazz, but they were QUIETLY brilliant. San Francisco never needed the heroics that become legendary in October (see: David Freese) because they never really gave Detroit a chance to make it a close series.
It seems like it was just a few days ago that the Tigers had swept the top-seeded Yankees in the American League and came into the final series of the season with all the momentum in the world. From there, the downhill tailspin is well documented. Verlander gets lit up, back-to-back shutouts, and then elimination last night.
What is so remarkable about Detroit’s horrendous last four games is how they so utterly failed in the areas they had been strongest. Time and time again, I warned people that the Tigers were built for the postseason. They had power but didn’t rely on it to win, they could take that extra base when needed, and they almost never, NEVER struck out.
So what happened? Detroit’s three home runs in the four games knocked in 5 of the 6 runs they scored. Outside of those three dingers, the Tigers only had two extra base hits. On the base paths, Detroit was 0 for 1 in steal attempts. And those strikeouts? Detroit batters bit the dust an jaw-dropping 36 times in just 37 innings.
Through all of that, the fact that Detroit’s two shutouts in Games 2 and 3 matched the number of times they got shutout during their entire 162-game regular season hardly adds any terror to the nightmare.
As you can see, from a statistical perspective, Detroit’s woes in this World Series is almost incomprehensible. How can one team go from being so hot to so cold SO QUICKLY?
The answer, in a lot of ways, was no simpler than “the Giants”.
All season long, San Francisco has played great baseball, but it seemed at every turn they were overshadowed by the sexier, flashier teams of major league baseball. In April and May, the hot start of their arch rivals, the Dodgers, stole the show. By June, other surprise winners and losers dominated the cooler talk. And down the stretch, heading into the playoffs, it seemed like all anyone wanted to talk about in the National League were the Reds and Nationals. Heck, even their deadline buys like Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro played second fiddle to bigger deals.
And yet, as the calendars flipped over to October 29th, the Giants were the only ball club still standing. And the only team being overshadowed was the Detroit Tigers.
Speaking of overshadowing, what about Buster Posey? Lost in all the hullabaloo of Sandoval’s monstrous Game 1 and Scutaro’s tremendous postseason is the fact that Buster Poser is now 2 for 2 in securing World Series crowns in seasons where he didn’t go down early with a devastating injury.
Pablo might be the muscle and Marco may be the wily veteran, but Posey is the team’s lucky rabbit’s foot.
That is, metaphorically, of course. The Giants didn’t need luck to down the Tigers because the series was almost over before it began. Justin Verlander, in Game 1, looked like the Verlander we saw in the All-Star Game, and the Giants took it and never looked back.
Did it make for a subpar World Series? Fans of 29 of 30 franchises would probably answer in the affirmative. But, as all the marketing campaigns kindly point out, you can’t script October. Whether it comes down to a walk-off home run with the a team down to their final strike or the slow-methodical death of a team during a four-game sweep, all we can do is enjoy the ride.
I mean, we knew all along only one fan base was going to be truly happy anyway, right?
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for MLB updates and other shenanigans!