Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants are World Series champions

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants are World Series champions

BOX SCORE

DETROIT The Giants endured so many nights when the flags whipped, the icy wind chapped faces and the dreams were bigger than the attendance.

But it only felt like Candlestick Park on a chilly Sunday night. And the Giants are no longer dreaming.

They are a full-fledged powerhouse franchise now, using pitching and precision to stand alone as World Series champions for the second time in three seasons.

They did not have to wait another half-century for a follow-up to 2010. Survivors of six elimination games against the Reds and Cardinals, the Giants outlasted the stubborn Detroit Tigers with a combination of smart hitting, determined pitching and clean plays afield to seize a 4-3, 10-inning victory and a four-game sweep.

Marco Scutaro delivered the hit and the ring. He stroked a two-out single to center field off Phil Coke after Ryan Theriot, the player whose job Scutaro took in July, had reached on a hit and advanced on Brandon Crawfords sacrifice bunt.

Theriot slid across home plate as if crashing into a catcher who wasnt blocking his path. He popped up into a power-squat pose and roared as the Giants dugout tingled with anticipation.

Sergio Romo remained brilliant to the end, striking out the side in the 10th inning including a fearless, 89-mph two-seam fastball that froze AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to kickstart a fist-pumping dance and a wild celebration on the mound.

After three games that didnt include a single lead change, Game 4 was a back-and-forth affair. Brandon Belts triple put the Giants in front in the second inning, but Cabrera and Delmon Young hit wind-aided home runs off Matt Cain that both erased leads. Buster Poseys home run preceded Youngs in the sixth inning.

The Giants had four shots to bring home this prize. The Tigers made them work for it. But if this team showed anything this season, its a will to compete till the last out.
They swept a Tigers club that had just pulled off a sweep of its own while dominating the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

Bruce Bochy became the first Giants manager to win two World Series titles since John McGraw (in 1905 and 1921-22).

Starting pitching report
In his only scheduled start of the World Series, and with 242 13 innings on his arm, Cain battled with less than his best stuff and only paid for two pitches.

It was apparent from the start that Cain didnt have the consistent put-away finish on his pitches. Quintin Berry battled him for a long at-bat in the first inning that included a fortuitous drive into the right field corner that thudded foul by a couple inches.

But Cain lost a 1-0 lead in the third inning thanks in part to the wind tunnel to right field, which Cabrera used to great effect when he hit a 1-1 changeup the opposite way and let the breeze do the rest. Hunter Pence, fully expecting to make a play, bumped against the right field wall as the ball soared over his head for a two-run home run.

It was Cabreras second career World Series home run; his previous one came in 2003 against Roger Clemens.

The shot gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead their first lead of any kind in the World Series. It ended the Tigers scoreless streak at 20 innings.

And for the first time in 57 innings, dating back to Game 4 of the NLCS, the Giants trailed.

The wind played a part when Cain squandered a second lead after Poseys two-run shot put the Giants ahead in the sixth. Cain made it through Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the bottom of the inning, but Young used the same wind tunnel to coax a first-pitch slider the opposite way and over the wall in right.

It was the sixth home run allowed by Cain in the postseason, one short of matching the major league record held by five pitchers (including former Giant Scott Garrelts in 1989).

Cain barely escaped the sixth, as he allowed a two-out single to Andy Dirks and needed Gregor Blanco to track down Jhonny Peraltas drive to the warning track in left field to get the Giants back in the dugout.

It was more than a bit curious when manager Bruce Bochy sent Cain back out for the seventh inning, but he got three quick outs and painted a 91 mph fastball on the outside corner on his last pitch of the night to strike out Austin Jackson and preserve the tie.

Cain made one last town-sheriff walk off the mound, likely his final act in a season that included a perfect game, a start for the NL All-Star team and victories in two winner-take-all postseason games against the Reds and Cardinals.

Bullpen report
Tim Lincecum isnt the only secret weapon in the Giants bullpen. Jeremy Affeldt has been a machine in the postseason, and because of Lincecums efforts in Game 3, Bochy was able to deploy Affeldt on the heart of the Tigers lineup in the eighth inning.

After a leadoff walk, Affeldt flung weapons-grade stuff to strike out Cabrera, Fielder and Young including a curve so nasty that it caused Fielder to recoil before fluttering over the plate for a strike. After striking out Andy Dirks to start the ninth, Affeldt survived a scare when Peralta once again had a deep drive knocked down by the wind. This one turned around Angel Pagan before the center fielder ran it down on the warning track.

Affeldt bent backwards in a display of relief. He has a perfect 0.00 ERA over 10 13 innings spanning 10 appearances.

Santiago Casilla hit Omar Infante with a pitch that fractured his left hand, as X-rays confirmed. But Casilla followed by getting Gerald Laird to ground into a fielders choice, sending the game to extra innings.

The Giants did not have Brian Wilsons bravado to throw the last pitch. But Romo never wavered in that role. He recorded his third save of this World Series in the 10th, and for the third time, he got the final out in a series-clinching victory.

At the plate
The Giants knew they wouldnt get much to hit from Max Scherzer, who matches a hard, running fastball with a plus slider and a decent changeup. Sure enough, Scherzer blazed through a first inning while throwing eight of 10 pitches for strikes.

But the Giants managed to barrel up twice in the second inning, when Hunter Pence hit a ground-rule double that skipped off the warning track in left-center. Belt followed by swinging at a first-pitch fastball down and in, yanking it into the right field corner. The drive struck the shortest portion of the wall, just a foot or two short of being a home run.

Belt raced around the bases for his second triple of the World Series and the Giants sixth of the postseason.

But the Tigers played their infield tight, Gregor Blancos ground ball to second base couldnt score Belt from third and the Giants had to be satisfied with the 1-0 lead.

Posey flied out in the third, stranding two runners when Scherzer threw a changeup off the end of his bat. But Posey didnt miss another changeup in the sixth inning, as the NL batting champ finally made his presence felt.

Posey was hitting .190 in the postseason, he hadnt scored a run in this World Series and he had just one RBI against the Tigers when he stepped to the plate following Scutaros single in the sixth.

But he sent a gasp through the crowd when he got the bat head out to a 1-0 changeup, sending it through the wind as it sailed two rows deep near the pole in left field, 363 feet away. Posey raised an index finger as he trotted through the drizzle, and for a player who always seems so composed, he nearly pulled a Mark McGwire and forgot to step on first base.

The shot gave the Giants a momentary 3-2 lead.

They needed one more rally, and one more clutch hit. It figured that Scutaro would provide it, as he waited for a 3-1 fastball he could handle and then did just enough with it, shooting the pitch to center field to give the Giants the lead that they would keep.

Pablo Sandoval had a single to finish with 24 hits this postseason, one away from matching the major league record. In deference to his three-homer performance in Game 1, he was named World Series MVP. He and Edgar Renteria are the only World Series MVPs in franchise history.

In field
Managers and coaches submitted their Gold Glove ballots in late September. If they bothered to watch Brandon Crawford in the postseason, they probably slapped their foreheads and said, Well, I screwed that one up.

Crawford was brilliant yet again as the Giants supported Cain with another solid defensive game. He fell down but stayed with a vicious, hooking one-hop smash off Prince Fielders bat in the third inning. Then he made a more spectacular play in the fifth after Cain deflected Quintin Berrys comebacker. Crawford changed direction, made a barehand pickup and threw to first base to nip the runner.

More infield defense saved Cain greater pain in the third, just before Cabrera hit his home run. Berry followed Austin Jacksons walk with a bunt to the left side, and Cain had to twist his body to avoid an onrushing Pablo Sandoval. The third baseman made a clean pickup and Brandon Belt scooped the skipping throw to record a very important out. Belt nearly picked off Jackson making a wide turn around second base, too.

Blancos catch on Peralta in the sixth was not an easy play, either, especially considering the windy conditions.

Attendance
The Tigers announced 42,152 paid to watch their team lose its seventh consecutive World Series game dating to 2006.

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Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.