2012 World Series
From BR Bullpen
|2012 World Series|
|San Francisco Giants
94 - 68 in the NL
|4 - 0
88 - 74 in the AL
The 2012 World Series were played beginning on October 24, 2012, between the Detroit Tigers, champions of the American League and the San Francisco Giants, champions of the National League. The Giants held home field advantage as a result of the National League's win in the 2012 All-Star Game. In spite of the two teams being storied franchises that had been around for more than a hundred years each, it was the first time that they had ever met in the postseason.
The Series was considered even before it began, with a slight advantage to Detroit, but when the games were played, the Giants dominated from the get-go against a sluggish Detroit team that only showed some life in extending Game 4 to extra innings, before falling to a four-game sweep. As a result, the Giants won their second Championship in two years, after having gone 56 years between World Series wins before that.
 The Teams
 Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers, managed by Jim Leyland, had been expected to run away with the AL Central title after reaching the ALCS in 2011, but instead struggled to stay above .500 for the first half of the season, then had to fight a resilient Chicago White Sox team that did not go down until the second half of September. As a result of that slow start, the Tigers had only recorded 88 wins during the regular season - least among the five AL teams qualified for the postseason - but that number belied the team's talent. They were definitely not considered underdogs heading into the Series, especially after their systematic demolition of the New York Yankees in a masterful four-game display during the ALCS.
The Tigers had two major qualities as a team: an outstanding four-man starting rotation, and a fearsome middle of the batting order. On the mound, the foursome of Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64, 239 Ks), Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74, 231 Ks), Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45) and Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86) was as strong as any in the major leagues, especially with the latter two pitchers coming into top gear when the season wound down. However, following repeated meltdowns by closer Jose Valverde (3-4, 3.78, 35 saves) during the first two rounds of the postseason, there was a genuine question mark about whether "Papa Grande" would be used in any meaningful situation during the Fall Classic. There were other options in the bullpen, though, with Phil Coke (2-3 4.00) having assumed closer duties in the ALCS, and Joaquin Benoit (5-3, 3.68) being an experienced reliever with the talent to close if need be. Also available was Octavio Dotel, who had been a member of last year's champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, fireballer Al Alburquerque, and rookie Drew Smyly, who had done very well when called upon in the ALCS.
The Tigers had of course the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years hitting third in their line-up in 3B Miguel Cabrera (.330, 44 HR, 139 RBI). If teams were tempted to pitch around him, they would have to face the equally dangerous 1B Prince Fielder (.313, 30, 108), and then DH Delmon Young (.267, 18, 74). That fearsome heart of the order was complemented with a few other dangerous performers, such as CF Austin Jackson (.300 with 103 runs scored), SS Jhonny Peralta (.239, 13, 63, but a much better hitter than his statistics) and LF Andy Dirks (.322). However, there were a few weaker spots in the line-up, such as 2B, where Omar Infante hit .257 with an OBP under .300 and little power, C where Alex Avila hit .243, and RF, which was manned by Brennan Boesch during the regular season, but had been shared by minor league veteran Quintin Berry and youngster Avisail Garcia during the postseason, Boesch being left off the roster altogether. Garcia was a wild card, having top-notch talent and the capacity to explode in spite of his limited experience in the majors. Defensively, the Tigers were strong up the middle with Jackson, Peralta, Infante and Avila all being better than average defensive players, but vulnerable on the corners.
 San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants were back in the World Series for the second time in three years, having been crowned World Champions in 2010. Again managed by Bruce Bochy, they were a solid but generally unspectacular team that had however been able to reel off six straight wins while on the verge of elimination in the first two rounds of the postseason. They had character in spades, and the ability to manufacture runs with very few hits when required, while their pitching was almost equal to the Tigers.
On the mound, Tim Lincecum had long been the Giants' ace, winning the Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009, but he had had an uncharacteristically poor season in 2012, going 10-15, 5.18. Thus, Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79) had become the team's ace, finding a knack for the spectacular: he pitched a perfect game, won the All-Star Game, and pitched shutout ball during Game 7 of the NLCS. Backing him was Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37), who had become an overnight pitching sensation in his mid-30s, and Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37). Bumgarner had been hit hard in the postseason, however, prompting Bochy to go with the reborn Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15), a choice that had turned out to be inspired when Zito pitched a great game in Game 5 of the NLCS with the Giants' backs to the wall. In the bullpen, the Giants had never found a closer to replace Brian Wilson when he was injured midway through the 2011 season, but they had plenty of good arms: Santiago Casilla (7-6, 2.84, 25 saves), Sergio Romo (4-2, 1.79, 14 saves), Jeremy Affeldt (1-2, 2.70), Javier Lopez (3-0, 2.50) and George Kontos (2-1, 2.47). The Giants did not allow a lot of runs, and their pitchers knew how to keep the ball within the confines of spacious AT&T Park.
With the bat, the Giants were less intimidating. They only hit 103 home runs on the season, last in the major leagues. Their best offensive player, LF Melky Cabrera, had run afoul of Major League Baseball's PED policy during the season and was no longer with the team. Their star was now MVP candidate C Buster Posey (.336, 24 HR, 103 RBI), although 2B Marco Scutaro had been red hot since being acquired in mid-year, hitting .362 in 61 games and being named MVP of the NLCS. Other dangerous hitters included leadoff hitter CF Angel Pagan (.288 with 38 doubles and 15 triples), 1B Brandon Belt (.275) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (.283, 12 HR, 63 RBI). None of them were easy outs, but they were not as fearsome as their opponents from the motor city. And the rest of the line-up had significant holes: SS Brandon Crawford hit .248 with no power, LF Gregor Blanco was a .244 hitter, and RF Hunter Pence had hit only .219 after his mid-season acquisition. On the bench, Aubrey Huff, one of the heroes of the 2010 title run, was down to pinch-hitting at a clip below .200, with Joaquin Arias, Ryan Theriot and Hector Sanchez being the other main options off the bench, leaving a likely hole at DH when the Series moved over to Comerica Park. Defensively, the Giants were average, with none of their players Gold Glove candidates, but no obvious holes either - even the pudgy Sandoval at third base was much more agile than he looked.
 Series results
|1||Detroit Tigers 3 San Francisco Giants 8||October 24||Justin Verlander (0-1) Barry Zito (1-0)||8:00 pm|
|2||Detroit Tigers 0 San Francisco Giants 2||October 25||Doug Fister (0-1) Madison Bumgarner (1-0)||8:00 pm|
|3||San Francisco Giants 2 Detroit Tigers 0||October 27||Ryan Vogelsong (1-0) Anibal Sanchez (0-1)||8:00 pm|
|4||San Francisco Giants 4 Detroit Tigers 3||October 28||Matt Cain (0-0) Max Scherzer (0-0)||8:15 pm|
 Game 1 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Barry Zito (1-0), LP: Justin Verlander (0-1)|
|Home Runs: - DET: Jhonny Peralta (1); SF: Pablo Sandoval 3 (3)|
- Attendance: 42,855
Heading into Game 1 in San Francisco, the Tigers were concerned that their long lay-off following a quick four-game sweep of the Yankees in the ALCS would cost them, and cost them it did. They looked out of sorts, and were completely dominated by the Giants, who won the game handily, 8-3, thanks to a tremendous performance by 3B Pablo Sandoval in support of another solid start by Barry Zito.
On paper, the game featured a duel of former Cy Young Award winners, but in the case of the Tigers' Justin Verlander, the award was barely a year old, and he had followed up that season with another great one this year; in contrast, Zito had won his award in another lifetime, with the Oakland Athletics in 2002, before he had signed a big free agent contract with the Giants and seemingly lost his ability to dominate. However, for the second straight start in the postseason, Zito was outstanding, while Verlander had one of the poorer outings of his career.
Zito put a couple of baserunners on in the 1st inning, but got out unscathed, while Verlander allowed a solo homer to Sandoval after two outs. It was ominous, but Verlander had allowed 1st-inning homers before, most recently in Game 1 of the ALDS when Coco Crisp had taken him deep, only for him to recover and dominate the rest of the way. Indeed, he seemed headed that way when he got the Giants out in order in the 2nd and retired the first two batters in the 3rd. Then, a strange play sunk the Tigers. Angel Pagan hit a soft liner towards third base that Miguel Cabrera was in position to field until it hit the corner of the third base bag and scooted into the left field corner for a double. The Giants turned that lucky break into a three-run outburst, as NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro hit a single to drive in Pagan, and Sandoval followed with another long ball.
Zito then retired the Tigers in order in the 4th, and Brandon Belt led off the bottom of the frame with a walk. He moved to second when Brandon Crawford hit a grounder to the right side for the second out, and Zito then helped his own cause with a single to left. It was the fourth straight postseason game in which a Giants pitcher had collected an RBI, and this timely hit now made it 5-0 for the Giants. Tigers manager Jim Leyland decided to pinch-hit for Verlander in the top of the 5th, giving his ace his shortest outing for reasons other than weather since 2009. The Giants dug the hole a little deeper when Sandoval homered again in the 5th off reliever Al Alburquerque, making the score 6-0. Sandoval was just the fourth player to hit three homers in a World Series game, following Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, twice, in the 1926 and 1928 series, Reggie Jackson in 1977, and Albert Pujols in last year's series. He was the first to do it in a Game 1, and the first to homer in his first three at-bats of a World Series as well. He was not done for the night, however; when he singled in the 7th, he brought his total bases for the day to 13, one short of Pujols' record set the previous year.
The Tigers finally showed a bit of life in the 6th when Austin Jackson led off with a double, moved to third on a fly ball and then scored on Cabrera's single. When Delmon Young, playing left field today, singled with two outs, manager Bruce Bochy took Zito out of the game. He had given up 1 run on 6 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings and would be credited with the win. Tim Lincecum, the third former Cy Young Award winner to pitch on the night, relieved Zito, and in 2 1/3 brilliant innings of relief, gave up nothing while striking out 5 opponents. By the time he left the game, the Giants' lead had increased to 8-1, as they pounded beleaguered closer Jose Valverde for 2 more runs on 4 hits in only a third of an inning in the 7th; if Leyland thought that rest would soothe whatever was ailing his former star, it did not work, and that outing would convince him to keep away from Valverde in any game situation going forward, The Tigers scored a couple of late runs in the 9th, when George Kontos gave up a solo homer to Jhonny Peralta after a single by Young; when Kontos walked Alex Avila one out later, Bochy brought in lefty Jeremy Affeldt to get the last out, which he did when Ramon Santiago hit into a force play. The Giants had won Game 1 with emphasis, looking like the 2010 World Champions all the way.
 Game 2 @ AT&T Park
|WP: Madison Bumgarner (1-0), LP: Doug Fister (0-1), SV: Sergio Romo (1)|
|Home Runs: - none|
- Attendance: 42,982
Game 2 was a classic pitchers' duel. The Giants may have had some concern about their starter Madison Bumgarner coming into the game, because he had been hit hard in his two previous postseason starts, but there was no doubt that on a good day both he and Tigers starter Doug Fister could take care of any opposing hitters. Fister had just set a record by fanning 9 straight batters during a September game, and had pitched very well in his two postseason starts even though he was not involved in the decision either time. And both starters were on their game today.
Major League Baseball took the opportunity of this game to pay tribute to veterans on a national stage, with U.S. Marine Nicholas Kimmel, a former top high school player now a triple amputee from the war in Afghanistan, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, and by organizing a special salute to four major league World War II veterans - Bobby Doerr, Tommy Lasorda, Jerry Coleman and broadcaster Bob Wolff. When the game started, the two starting pitchers were dealing. The hardest-hit ball in the early going was likely the liner which Gregor Blanco hit off the side of Fister's head with two outs in the 2nd. Fister was examined by the Tigers' medical staff, but stayed in the game, and was unaffected, as he allowed only three hits and a walk through the first 6 innings. For his part, Bumgarner was just as solid, with two hits and two walks allowed through the first seven, during which he struck out 8 opponents. Thus, after 6 1/2 innings, the game was still scoreless. The Tigers had wasted an opportunity in the 2nd inning, however, when Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch to lead off, and then tried to score on Delmon Young's double down the left field line. He was thrown out on a relay from LF Blanco to 2B Marco Scutaro to C Buster Posey. Third-base coach Gene Lamont was questioned after the game about his decision to send in Fielder with no one out; the fact that Posey was known not to block the plate, following his near career-ending collision on a similar play last season, may have influenced his decision. Lamont expressed regret, but it is hard to fault him: it had taken a perfect play, with Scutaro instinctively moving out of his normal position to act as a back-up to the cut-off man, SS Brandon Crawford, to nail the huge first baseman barreling home; had Fielder scored, the game would have unfolded completely differently.
The tide finally turned in the 7th inning. Hunter Pence led off with a single to left, and manager Jim Leyland replaced Fister with rookie Drew Smyly. Smyly inmmediately walked Brandon Belt and Blanco surprised everyone by laying a perfect bunt down the third base line, which the Tigers could only watch helplessly as it stopped halfway to third without leaving fair territory, loading the bases with no one out. Crawford then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, allowing Pence to score the game's first run. Once again, there was some question about the Tigers' strategy, as Leyland had elected not to bring in his infielders, which would have been the more orthodox approach and could have prevented the run. After that, Ryan Theriot, pinch-hitting for Bumgarner, struck out to end the inning. Santiago Casilla came in to pitch the 8th and retired the Tigers in order. In the bottom of the 8th, Angel Pagan led off with a walk, then stole second base as Scutaro struck out. Leyland elected to issue an intentional pass to Game 1 hero Pablo Sandoval and made a double switch, bringing in veteran Octavio Dotel to pitch. Dotel walked Posey to load the bases and Pence followed with a sacrifice fly, giving the Giants an insurance run without the benefit of a hit. Giants manager Bruce Bochy made a double switch of his own to bring in Sergio Romo to pitch the 9th; he got Quintin Berry to fly out, struck out Austin Jackson and retired Jhonny Peralta on a foul pop-up to end the game. The two teams were headed to Detroit with San Francisco leading the Series, two games to none.
 Game 3 @ Comerica Park
|WP: Ryan Vogelsong (1-0), LP: Anibal Sanchez (0-1), SV: Sergio Romo (2)|
|Home Runs: - none|
- Attendance: 42,262
The World Series moved to Detroit for Game 3, but apart for Tiger Hall of Famer Al Kaline throwing the ceremonial first pitch before the game, it could just have well been a rewind of Game 2. Facing each other on the mound were the late bloomer Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants and Anibal Sanchez, a victim of poor offensive support all season, for the Tigers. Both pitchers would live up to their billing on this night. As for the line-ups, Bruce Bochy had a choice to make regarding his designated hitter and picked back-up catcher Hector Sanchez over veteran Aubrey Huff for San Francisco, while Jim Leyland moved Delmon Young back to the DH spot, opening left field for the speedy Quintin Berry, while Andy Dirks took over in right with a right-handed pitcher on the mound for the first time against Detroit.
Sanchez was excellent through 6 of the 7 innings he pitched, hardly yielding anything more serious than a single. However, the 2nd inning proved to be his undoing. He appeared off his game from the first pitch of that frame, walking lead-off hitter Hunter Pence on four pitches. Pence then stole second as Brandon Belt struck out and advanced to third on a wild pitch with Gregor Blanco at the plate. In one of the game's key at-bats, Blanco then lifted a fly to deep right field, which hit the wall and landed for a triple and a first run. Sanchez came back to strike out his namesake Hector (the television coverage helpfully advised viewers that it was the first time batter and pitcher shared a first name in a World Series since Mariano Rivera faced Ruben Rivera in the 1998 Fall Classic), but Brandon Crawford then singled to center for a second run, the ball bouncing past Austin Jackson for an error. However, Angel Pagan hit a ground ball to Prince Fielder at first base to end the inning, but it was enough for the Giants. The two runs would hold for the rest of evening, even though they managed only 4 hits the rest of the way.
In the meantime, Vogelsong was not exactly sharp, but his few mistakes were erased thanks to a solid defense playing behind him. He walked Berry and gave up a single to Miguel Cabrera in the 1st, but Fielder grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the 3rd, Omar Infante and Jackson singled, but Berry hit into an inning-ending twin killing. In the 5th, Alex Avila and Infante singled after one out and Jackson drew a walk to load the bases, but Vogelsong struck out the rookie Berry and got Cabrera to pop up to shortstop after lining a hard foul ball just outside the right field line; 3B Pablo Sandoval had started that inning by making a tremendous diving catch on a line drive by Jhonny Peralta that was headed for a double, so the Tigers were only a couple of inches from having a big inning, but, alas, it wasn't to be. In the 6th, Vogelsong walked Dirks with two outs and Bochy brought in his former ace, Tim Lincecum, now relegated to bullpen duty. Lincecum was outstanding once again, as he had been in Game 1, giving up only a walk in two and a third innings (another runner reached on an error by SS Crawford). Indeed, Lincecum was pitching so well that there was a question whether he would get to close the game, but Bochy turned to his best short reliever, Sergio Romo, who easily retired the side in the bottom of the 9th on a pair of fly balls and a strikeout of Infante that ended the game. The Giants were one win away from a second World Championship in three years, with the Tigers' bats in deep hibernation. Indeed, the Tigers were the first team to be shut out in back-to-back World Series game since the Baltimore Orioles pulled the trick three consecutive times against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1966 World Series.
 Game 4 @ Comerica Park
|WP: Santiago Casilla (1-0), LP: Phil Coke (0-1), SV: Sergio Romo (3)|
|Home Runs: - SF: Buster Posey (1); DET: Miguel Cabrera (1), Delmon Young (1)|
- Attendance: 42,152
The San Francisco Giants were confident heading into Game 4, with their ace during the regular season, Matt Cain, taking the mound, and holding on to a three-games-to-none lead. The only question was who would be their designated hitter, which Bruce Bochy answered by putting in infielder Ryan Theriot, who was making this first career start in the role. For the Tigers, Max Scherzer, runner-up to Justin Verlander for the American League strikeout title was on the mound, while Gerald Laird replaced an ailing Alex Avila at catcher.
Once again, the Giants took an early lead, when Hunter Pence hit a one-out double in the 2nd, which was followed by a triple by Brandon Belt, his first hit of the Series. But Scherzer did not allow Belt to score, and in the bottom of the 3rd, the Tigers finally showed some life. Austin Jackson walked with one out, Quintin Berry tried to surprise the Giants' defence with a bunt down the third-base line, but Pablo Sandoval fielded it quickly and threw out the rapid Berry at first for the second out; up came Miguel Cabrera, and he ended his World Series torpor by pushing a ball into the wind blowing out to right field, and it sailed over the fence for a two-run homer. The Tigers were up, 2-1, their first lead of the World Series. The score stayed that way until the 6th inning, when Marco Scutaro hit a lead-off single and after one out, another of the batters whose lumber had gone to sleep since the Series started, C Buster Posey, hit one out down the left field line for a 3-2 Giants lead. With two outs in the bottom of the 6th, it was Delmon Young's turn to homer off Cain, tying the score at 3-all.
That's how the score remained until the end of the 9 regulation innings. Cain left after 7 innings, while Scherzer was replaced by Drew Smyly after one out in the 7th. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Santiago Casilla threw a fastball that caught 2B Omar Infante on the left wrist, causing a non-displaced fracture. Danny Worth ran for him and took over at second base in the top of the 10th as the score remained tied. With Phil Coke, who had struck out the first seven batters he had faced in the Series including three in the top of the 9th, on the mound for Detroit, Theriot led off with a single on a soft fly to right field. Brandon Crawford followed by laying down a sacrifice bunt for the first out, moving Theriot to second base. Coke then struck out Angel Pagan for the second out. That brought up Scutaro, who had had a tremendous second half and postseason for the Giants. True to his recent past, he softly lined a ball to center field for a single to score Theriot with what would turn out to be the Series' winning run. Sergio Romo came out to pitch the bottom of the 10th for the Giants, and had some filthy stuff once again. He struck out Jackson to start out the inning; Tigers manager Jim Leyland sent out Don Kelly to pinch-hit for Berry, but Kelly struck out as well. Cabrera was the Tigers' last hope, but down he went on strikes too, and the Giants were World Champions for the second time in three years. Casilla was the winner, Romo had his third save, and Sandoval, with a .500 batting average, a double and three homers and a number of fine plays on defense, was the recipient of the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
 Further Reading
- Bay Area News Group: Comeback Kids: The San Francisco Giants' Incredible 2012 Championship Season, Triumph Books LLC, Chicago IL, 2013. ISBN 978-1600787508
- Brian Murphy: Never Say Die: The San Francisco Giants - 2012 World Champions, Cameron + Company, Petaluma, CA 2013. ISBN 978-1937359447
 Related Sites
2012 All-Star Game • 2012 World Series
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series