|San Francisco Giants celebrate after winning baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers 3-1 Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)|
Giants give City by the Bay its long-awaited title
ARLINGTON, Texas—Buster Posey caught the final strike, started to rush the mound, then stopped and turned toward the dugout.
The rookie catcher wasn't quite sure what to do or where to go. Hard to blame him, either. It's not as if the San Francisco Giants win the World Series every day.
More than a half-century after moving West, the Giants are taking the trophy to the city by the Bay for the first time. Tim Lincecum was wicked on the mound, Edgar Renteria broke a scoreless duel with a three-run homer in the seventh inning and San Francisco beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 in a tense Game 5 Monday night.
The prize that eluded Willie and Barry for so long finally belongs to San Francisco, thanks to a band of self-described castoffs and misfits and their shaggy-haired ace.
"World Series champs, 2010. Can you believe this?" October ace Matt Cain said.
It was an overdue victory. Willie Mays led the Giants to their previous crown in 1954, four years before they left the Polo Grounds in New York. After that, they never quite got it done despite the likes of baseball giants Barry Bonds, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey.
"This buried a lot of bones -- '62, '89, 2002," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said, ticking off losing Series appearances. "This group deserved it, faithful from the beginning. We're proud and humbled by the achievement."
In the Year of the Pitcher, the World Series proved the oldest adage in the game: Good pitching stops good hitting, every time. Lincecum and the team with the best ERA in the big leagues completely shut down Josh Hamilton and the club with the majors' top batting average.
Texas managed just 29 hits in the five games. The Giants scored 29 runs, with Renteria hitting .412, leading all Series players with six RBIs and becoming the unanimous pick as MVP.
"They beat us soundly," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They deserve it."
The Giants hit only .237 the entire postseason, the lowest for a Series winner since the Dodgers batted .227 in 1988. But they did enough to hand Cliff Lee his first two career losses in the postseason after a 7-0 start.
"World championships are won with a good pitching staff and defense and we had that," center fielder Aaron Rowand said.
"It takes a lot of luck for this to happen, too. You can have all the talent in the world. Those Giants teams with Willie Mays and McCovey -- they had four Hall of Famers on that team," he said. "We had the talent on this team, especially on the pitching side, but we got lucky, too. It takes a little bit of both to win a World Series."
Lincecum won this game of Texas Hold 'em, beating Lee for the second time in a week. He gave up three hits over eight innings and struck out 10.
The two-time NL Cy Young winner arrived at Rangers Ballpark wearing a bow tie, as if he was going to a party. He had one on the mound, for sure.
"Pretty collected. I was very poised out there. From the first inning on my adrenaline kind of just dissipated and I was able to calm down," he said.
Nelson Cruz homered in the bottom of the seventh, but that was all for Texas.
Wilson pitched a perfect ninth for a save, completing a surprising romp through the postseason for a pitching-rich team that waited until the final day to clinch a playoff spot.
Wilson struck out Cruz swinging to end it, turned toward center field and crossed his wrists in front of his chest as he does after all his saves.
Manager Bruce Bochy enjoys calling his Giants a ragtag bunch. Maybe Renteria, Cody Ross, Huff and Freddy Sanchez fit that description. Cut loose by other clubs this season and before, they all wound up in San Francisco.
But the foundation of this team -- for now, for the foreseeable future -- is totally home grown, built on a deep, talented and young rotation, a rookie catcher with huge star potential and their funky closer.
"For us to win for our fans, it's never been done there, and with all those great teams," Bochy said.
Bonds spent 15 years wearing the black and orange.
"There is no city that deserves this championship more," Bonds said in a statement. "I grew up watching my dad and godfather as Giants, lived out my dream playing in the same uniform in front of the best fans in the world and I just witnessed the Giants winning the World Series. I am ecstatic for the team, the city and all the fans -- you truly deserve it."
Renteria reprised his role of postseason star. His 11th-inning single ended Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and lifted Florida over Cleveland. Forget that he made the last out in the 2004 Series that finished Boston's sweep of St. Louis -- this journeyman's path led to another title, helped by his go-ahead home run in Game 2.
"It was a tough year for me," the oft-injured shortstop said. "I told myself to keep working hard and keep in shape because something is going to be good this year."
A team seemingly free of egos did everything right to take the lead in the seventh. Ross, the surprising MVP of the NL championship series, stayed square and hit a leadoff single and Juan Uribe followed with another hit up the middle.
That put a runner at second base for the first time in the game and brought up Huff, who led the Giants in home runs this year. So what did he do? He expertly put down the first sacrifice bunt of his career.
Renteria homered with two outs, and that was enough.
"Wow. I don't know. What can you say," the 23-year-old Posey said. "This is ultimate high in baseball and I got to experience it my first year here. I don't know what to say."
The Giants won their previous title when they played in New York at the Polo Grounds. That's where Mays raced back for perhaps the most famous catch of all time.
They moved West in 1958 and had tried ever since to escape a sort of big league Alcatraz -- the place where teams get stuck for decades as also-rans. The Red Sox and White Sox got free, not so the Cubs and Indians.
So clang the cable car bells. Loudly, too. Baseball's best play by the Bay.
Exactly when these Giants turned into world beaters is hard to say. Trailing San Diego by 7 1/2 games in the NL West on July 4, they meandered in the wild-card race until the stretch run, winning the division and finishing 92-70.
Come the playoffs, they became dangerous. Any well-armed team is. Start with Cain -- three postseason starts, a 0.00 ERA. Throw in Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young winner. Add Madison Bumgarner, the 21-year-old rookie who helped blank Texas in Game 4.
San Francisco posted a trio of one-run wins in the opening round that sent Atlanta manager Bobby Cox into retirement, then stopped the two-time defending NL champion Phillies in the championship series. Those wins, like this, came on the road.
Texas became the latest Series newcomer to make a quick exit. Houston (2005) and Colorado (2007) got swept in their first appearances, Tampa Bay (2008) stuck around for just five games.
The AL champion Rangers became the first team since 1966 to get shut out twice in a World Series, with big hitters Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero and Cruz left taking half-swings or flailing wildly.
Hamilton, the probable AL MVP, went 2 for 20 with one RBI.
"We just got cold at the wrong time with the bats," he said.
The Rangers' franchise wrapped up its 50th season overall, in good hands with Nolan Ryan as president and part-owner. If only Big Tex could teach his team to hit, too.
Many years ago, one swing of the bat prompted a call that resonates throughout Giants history and beyond.
"The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" announcer Russ Hodges shouted over and over after Bobby Thomson launched "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951.
Time to redo that cry: The Giants win the Series! The Giants win the Series! The Giants win the Series!