SF Giants Swept the World Series Because of 5 Clutch ABs

John Shea@real_johnsheaContributor IIIOctober 30, 2012

SF Giants Swept the World Series Because of 5 Clutch ABs

0 of 6

    The 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants forever etched their name in baseball history when they swept the heavily favored Detroit Tigers to claim the Commissioner's Trophy for the second time in three seasons.

    San Francisco earned baseball's ultimate prize, outscoring opponents 36-7 while winning their final seven postseason games—a franchise record.

    The Giants' four consecutive wins over Detroit were dominant, but the orange and black needed several clutch at-bats to eliminate the Tigers on their way to championship glory:

Pablo Sandoval Hits an 0-2 Home Run off Justin Verlander

1 of 6

    Pablo Sandoval stepped up to the dish with nobody on base and two outs.

    The Panda took two quick strikes from Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and found himself in a fat hole against perhaps the best pitcher in baseball.

    It looked like Verlander was going to mow down the top of the Giants' lineup in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, which would force left-hander Barry Zito to match zeros with the reigning AL MVP just in order to give his team a chance to win.

    But Sandoval connected on a blistering fastball exceeding 94 mph and launched a mammoth home run over the fence in center field to give the Giants an early 1-0 lead.

    It was just the fifth time in Verlander's eight-year career that he had allowed a home run in an 0-2 count.

    Sandoval's blast stunned the Tigers and ignited the Giants. It gave Zito the early edge he needed to get into a groove, and he out-pitched Verlander while surrendering just one earned run in 5.2 innings of work.

    The Panda would electrify a raucous home crowd, eventually launching two more gigantic home runs to tie Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols as the only players in MLB history to crush three home runs in a single World Series Game.

    The Giants rolled the Tigers in impressive fashion to win Game 1 by the final score of 8-3.

Hunter Pence Lofts a Sacrifice Fly in Game 2

2 of 6

    Hunter Pence delivered a clutch situational at-bat in a game where runs came at a premium.

    His sacrifice fly off of veteran right-hander Octavio Dotel gave the Giants a 2-0 cushion in the eighth inning of Game 2.

    Pence also scored the Giants' first run of Game 2, jetting home on a double-play groundball hit by rookie shortstop Brandon Crawford.

    The lanky outfielder assured the Giants that a solo home run couldn't tie the game, and allowed set-up man Santiago Casilla and closer Sergio Romo to pitch to contact.

    Casilla and Romo combined to record five of the final six outs in the field, while registering 16 strikes in 21 pitches thrown to aid the Giants in a 2-0 shutout, preserving the win for southpaw Madison Bumgarner.

    Bumgarner tossed seven innings, giving up just two hits, and has not surrendered a single run in 15 career innings pitched in the World Series.

Gregor Blanco Blasts a Triple at Comerica Park

3 of 6

    Gregor Blanco delivered a monstrous triple into the right center-field gap of Comerica Park to drive in Hunter Pence and give the Giants an early 1-0 lead in the second inning of Game 3.

    Blanco constantly flashed his glove, playing electrifying defense throughout the entire postseason, but also proved to be a valuable component of a balanced Giants' lineup.

    Tigers' right-hander Anibal Sanchez had sustained dominance in five career starts against the Giants, recording three wins and a 1.98 ERA in 36.1 innings pitched.

    It was crucial for San Francisco to score first, and they accomplished that because of Blanco's blast.

    Blanco would later score when Crawford lined a base hit through the middle of the infield with two outs in the inning.

    That would be all the support the Giants needed to back another masterful pitching performance by Ryan Vogelsong, who tallied three wins and registered a dominant 1.09 postseason ERA in 24.2 innings pitched.

    The Giants beat Detroit 2-0 in Game 3 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead, virtually eliminating any realistic chance the Tigers had at making the series remotely competitive.

Buster Posey Unleashes a Go-Ahead 2-Run Bomb

4 of 6

    Buster Posey had struggled at the plate throughout the 2012 World Series, but that didn't stop him from delivering a clutch two-run home run against the Tigers' Max Scherzer in the top of the sixth inning of Game 4.

    The Giants had trailed for most of the game to that point. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera had lofted a two-run blast of his own off Giants' ace Matt Cain in the third inning to give the Tigers their first lead of the series.

    It was a signature moment for the likely National League MVP, who did his best Carlton Fisk impression as he wrapped a hanging pitch from Scherzer around the left field foul pole to give the Giants a 3-2 lead.

    It put the Giants at the cusp of a championship—even though the Tigers would answer when Delmon Young sent a pitch into the seats off Cain in the bottom of the sixth.

    Still, Posey's home run erased a one-run Tigers' lead and forced Detroit to rally from behind. Posey silenced the desperate sell-out crowd at Comerica Park and sent chills raging through the home dugout.

    The Giants would not be easily defeated in Game 4.

Marco Scutaro Drives in the Winning Run of the World Series

5 of 6

    Marco Scutaro was relentless in racking up countless clutch hits for the Giants down the stretch and in the postseason.

    The Tigers' solid starting pitching had cooled off the streaking Scutaro, who delivered six multi-hit games in the NLCS.

    But, Scutaro would not be ignored as he stepped to the plate with two outs and the potential World Series-clinching run standing at second base in the top of the tenth inning.

    Left-hander Phil Coke had struck out seven Giants' hitters in three innings of work in the World Series to that point. Coke could have given the Tigers a chance to extend the series with a walk-off win in the bottom of the tenth if he could have managed to get Scutaro out.

    Instead, Scutaro sent designated hitter Ryan Theriot racing around third base as Tigers' center-fielder Austin Jackson corralled the ball and fired towards home plate.

    The throw was late, and Theriot erupted in pure elation as the Giants dugout exploded.

    Scutaro had done it again and the Giants were just three outs away from championship glory.

    Romo closed out the bottom of the tenth, striking out the side, and sending the Giants into a celebratory frenzy.

Honorable Mention

6 of 6

    Ryan Theriot smoked a single off Phil Coke to start off the top of the tenth inning in Game 4. Theriot stood at first base representing the potential winning run of the 2012 World Series.

    Brandon Crawford sacrificed Theriot to second base, but Coke was able to strike out Angel Pagan, meaning that Scutaro would be the Giants' last chance to score in the tenth inning.

    A storybook ending ensued.

    Theriot scored the clinching run of the Giants' 2012 championship run on a base hit off the bat of the man that replaced him as the team's starting second baseman.

    It didn't matter who started and who didn't. They had combined to give the Giants a 4-3 lead in Game 4—a lead the Giants would never relinquish.

    In that moment, both Theriot and Scutaro became solidified as 2012 World Champions.