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 defense.
Series MVP Pablo Sandoval and the underdog Giants celebrated in the center of the diamond at Comerica Park after winning six elimination games this postseason.
“Tonight was a battle,” said Giants star catcher 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 inning.
Posey put the Giants ahead 3-2 with a two-run homer in the sixth and Detroit’s 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. Center 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 with seven consecutive wins and their seventh Series championship. They handed the Tigers their seventh consecutive World Series 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.”
A National League team won the title for the third consecutive season, a run that hadn’t occurred in 30 years. Some find the streak surprising, considering the American League’s recent dominance in interleague play. But that’s in the regular season – the club that pitches best in the postseason 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 against St. Louis in 2006.
Howling winds made it feel much colder than the 44 degrees 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. A big league good-luck charm, Little League style.
And once again, San Francisco took an early lead. Pence hit a one-hop drive over the center-field fence for a double and Brandon Belt tripled on the next pitch for a 1-0 lead in the second.
The next inning, Cabrera gave the Tigers reason to think this might be their night.
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 25 mph, 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, ended its 20-inning scoreless streak.
In the fourth, Max Scherzer and catcher Gerald Laird teamed on a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play. Scherzer yelled, first baseman Prince Fielder clenched his fist and the Tigers ran off the field on a chilly, windy, rainy evening. At last, it seemed, all the elements were in their favor.
Trailing for the first time since Game 4 of the NL Championship Series, Posey and the Giants put a dent in Detroit’s optimism. Scutaro, the NLCS MVP, led off the sixth with a single and clapped all the way around the bases when Posey sent a shot that sailed just inside the left-field foul pole for a 3-2 lead.