Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Giants win it all in 2012, but do it the boring way

Come-from-behind wins are relatively rare in baseball, and if you fell behind the World Champion San Francisco Giants in 2012, they were all but impossible. When the Giants took the lead, they kept it.



San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey had a 1.199 OPS and 30 RBI in the first inning in 2012. Taking the lead and keeping it characterized the Giants' championship effort (Chase N./Creative Commons license).

By BILL PETERSON
Big Leagues in Los Angeles

The emergence of the San Francisco Giants as a championship force in Major League Baseball was especially foggy to view from nearby Los Angeles, where the outcome in the NL West for 2012 played as a dismal failure by the Dodgers.

While Vin Scully always kept one eye on the Giants, understanding that a full account of the Dodgers' moral universe demands it, the Giants were the least of the Dodgers’ problems. For such long stretches, the Dodgers didn't hit enough to beat anybody, even after spending $300 million for upgrades in mid-season. It mattered almost not if the Giants won or lost. The Dodgers didn't win enough, anyway.

But the Giants kept winning, all the way through two rounds of National League playoffs and a four-game World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers for their second world championship in three years. And watching the Giants win in the postseason brought to mind another reason their rise was largely unnoticed.

The Giants were boring. Not to say a word against them as a baseball team, but, as an entertainment proposition, the Giants were a boring team because of the way they won. They got on top of people and stayed on top. They were better than most at taking the first lead, and they were better than anyone at keeping it. They were tediously good. It's not bouncing ball theater. It's a solid way to play the game -- get on top, stay on top. And the Giants were relentless about it, in their dormitive, under-powering way.

That made the Giants a real good baseball team, and rather a dull show. The Giants played 16 postseason games in 2012. In the first 15 of them, there were a total of two lead changes. Some commentators noted that even with the Giants rallying from down 3-1 to beat St. Louis in a seven-game NLCS, the LCS round of playoffs was one of the most boring ever. Add in the 2010 World Series, a 4-1 Giants romp against Texas, and we see three lead changes in a stretch of 20 postseason Giants games.

We're grateful that the final game of the 2012 World Series, which was Game 4, actually produced a thickening plot, sending us off to winter with a reminder that baseball is an exciting game.

The Giants lost only one of the last 16 postseason game in which they took the lead, and only twice did another team take a lead once the Giants held one. The Giants were 10-1 when they scored first during the 2012 playoffs. In nine of their 11 postseason wins for 2012 -- and 13 of their last 15 postseason wins overall -- the Giants scored first and the other club never even caught up.

That's just the Giants, and that's what we have to live with while they're in the championship picture. Or what we have to live without, which would be twists and turns. In 2012, the Giants won 34 games coming from behind, hardly a majestic number.  Only eight of them came in the seventh inning or later. The Yankees led all clubs with 46 come-from-behind wins.

Of 162 regular season Giants games in 2012, 102 of them saw no lead changes -- 60 games in which the Giants never trailed and 42 in which their opponent never trailed. According to research published on Retrosheet.org, which did the math from more than 122,000 games covering 73 seasons from 1901 through 2003, the team that wins comes from behind 43.7 percent of the time and never trails 56.3 percent of the time. The 2012 Giants came from behind in only 36.2 percent of their wins and never trailed in 63.8 percent of them.

That's just comparing the Giants with the average team. But when we compare the 94-68 Giants and their .580 percentage with other .580 percentages across history, we find that the Giants are heavy on getting ahead and staying ahead even among those clubs. According to Retrosheet, teams that finished .580ish came from behind to win in roughly 20 percent to 33 percent of their games (not wins, games). The Giants came from behind to win in 21 percent of their games, putting them on the very low end of that scale. The same research shows that .580ish teams never trail in roughly 20 percent to 40 percent of their games. The Giants never trailed in 37 percent of their games, putting them on the high end of that scale.

The Giants tied with Washington for the most innings pitched from ahead in MLB (639.0), and they were third across the big leagues (behind Washington and Texas) with 2,336 at-bats from ahead. During the regular season, the Giants led after the first inning 53 times, just about one-third of their games. When the Giants led after one inning, they were 43-10, an .811 percentage. They were on their way to nearly half of their wins after just one inning. According to the Retrosheet data, the team that leads after one inning wins the game 70 percent of the time, well less often than the Giants. By the same token, the team that trails after one inning wins 30 percent of the time, but the Giants (9-27 when trailing after one) won only 25 percent of those games.

Playing with the lead is a greater advantage in baseball than in other sports because the defense has the ball. If you're trailing and the other team's pitcher can put it where he wants it, you're not catching up. The rules give the trailers something back by ensuring that they get a fair number of shots. The leaders can't just stall out the clock to hold the lead. They have to get the trailers out 27 times.

When we say the winning team comes from behind 43.7 percent of the time, that's any kind of a comeback, even from down 1-0. How many sports can say -- or would even want to say -- that the winning team never trails in more than half of its games? How many basketball teams come from behind? All of them? We don't even talk about raw comeback wins in basketball because it would be silly. We might talk about comebacks from 10 points down or more, something like that, but simply coming from behind is nothing.

Comebacks in football happen all the time. The NFL doesn't keep statistics for any old kind of comeback win, but it does keep track of fourth quarter comeback wins by quarterbacks. Last season, Payton Manning set the all-time NFL record with 38 fourth-quarter comebacks. Manning had won 154 games in his career, meaning 24.6 percent of his wins were fourth quarter comebacks. That doesn't count the numerous times an opponent took the opening kick to a field goal and Manning then rallied his guys to a 44-3 win. But that would count as a comeback in baseball. Using the baseball criteria, and figuring Manning must have brought his team from behind numerous times in the first, second and third quarters, we might guess that a good more than half of Manning's wins would be comeback wins.

Just looking back over three weeks of NFL box scores from last October, we found seven comeback wins (by baseball criteria) out of 14 games one week, six out of 14 games the next week and 10 out of 13 games still a week later. So, 56 percent of the wins in the NFL are comebacks during those three weeks. Might come down a little in a larger sample, but it might go up, too. Anyway, 50 percent or a little more on comebacks in the NFL seems about right. In baseball, over the long haul, it's 43.7 percent.

You saw few comebacks in Giants games, even by baseball's relatively tight standards. So, if you knew the score of the Giants game through the first inning, you could often predict the outcome with more than the usual accuracy. Thus, through the course of the season, even being on the West Coast, the Giants game was seldom the choice as you rolled through the dial looking for a good seventh inning somewhere. Much more often than not, the shape of a Giants game followed one of two patterns: either the Giants get ahead, stay ahead and win, or they fall behind, stay behind and lose. In addition to playing in relatively few dramatic games, the Giants probably were the fourth best story among the West Coast teams. They just happened to be the best team. Somehow, that escaped our attention. Must have fallen asleep trying to watch a Giants game.

It might also be because the Giants won their division the same way they won so many of their games. While the Angels battled against their poor start bidding for a wild card berth, and the Dodgers kept adding big-time players in their failed effort, and the Oakland Athletics surged to shock the world with their AL West championship, the Giants just got ahead and stayed ahead.

The Dodgers had their moment, squeezing two months out of a club that had about two months in it, but their massive effort to build a new club for the final two months fell short. If there was a giant in their midst, the Dodgers and their fans were too low to the ground to see it. From June 17, when they were 42-25, to Sept. 25, when they were 79-75, the Dodgers were 37-50 over a run of games covering more than half of a season. Stretch that out over 162 games and you've got a last place team with 94 losses. That's what Dodgers fans saw.

But the Giants and the Dodgers are always in each other's shadows, always at once mirror and reverse images of each other, always in each other's business. So, the Giants did, indeed, make an appearance for the high point of the Dodgers season, which we'll mark as May 7, blue's first appearance in Hollywood after their transfer of ownership from evil Frank McCourt to a muscular group starring Magic Johnson. That night, the Giants came to Dodger Stadium for the first of 18 meetings between these rivals who go back 3,000 miles and 122 years.

The ownership transfer took place while the Dodgers were on the road during the first week of May. Forebodingly, perhaps, the Dodgers played poorly for the first time this season, 2-4 on a swing through Colorado and Chicago, which would both finish in last place. Seemed like a tiny bump in the road now that the Dodgers were positioned to operate like an LA team should, and the team wasn't far from looking sharp on the field. The Dodgers had just swept three scrumptious games at home against a Washington club that already was obviously going to pitch. Now, the Dodgers were 18-10 with illustrious ownership, a four-game lead in the NL West and Matt Kemp, who began this season as the best player in the world.

The Giants who arrived at Dodger Stadium did not make a good first impression. Here, we would first see the Giants who we would come to know and ignore. They straggled in like a bum who got lost on his way to Santa Monica, a tale of woe. Just 18 months removed from the 2010 world championship, the Giants were 14-14, and apparently getting worse. One looked at Giants manager Bruce Bochy and saw homelessness in his beard.

Their more popular beard, that of Brian Wilson, was out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, leaving Bochy without his closer. Another strategically important arm, veteran bridge reliever Guillermo Mota, was out with a 50-game PED suspension. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez still wasn't back from shoulder surgery, meaning the club that scored less than anyone else in the NL in 2011 had to go without a .300 hitter. Losing five miles per hour from his fastball in 2011, Tim Lincecum no longer was dominant, and sometimes he wasn't even effective. No one knew how 2010 golden child Buster Posey would come back, as a catcher or a hitter, after a 2011 collision at the plate smashed one of his legs and ended his season.

The Giants played a lot of games with feathery hitters like Emmanuel Burriss and Joaquin Arias as starting infielders. Their journeyman starting outfield that night looked like it was put together by a guy who woke up on Christmas and realized he hadn't done any shopping. Between them, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco played for 10 major league clubs in 11 years of major league service time. At least Cabrera and Pagan were regular big league outfielders in 2011 -- for the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets. Blanco didn't even see the big leagues in 2011.

That was before the Giants even stepped on the field. After happy pre-game observances of the new Dodgers ownership and through all the verve in Dodger Stadium that night, you should have seen the Giants play. They made four fielding errors and were one-for-eight batting with runners in scoring position. At the end of the game, the Giants had made 33 errors in 29 games, the most in the major leagues. But they still had a little chance, down 4-1 going to the bottom of the eighth. At that point, though, Bochy didn't have his bullpen settled at all. Four hits, a walk, an error and a wild pitch, all before any Dodgers made an out. The Dodgers scored five for a 9-1 win. The two Giants pitchers for that eighth inning, Steve Edlefson and Travis Blackley, no longer were with the club a month later.

There could be no better way for the Dodgers to celebrate a new ownership than by crushing the Giants, and that final stomp in the eighth made it that much more delirious. And deceptive. Because dawn came again with her rosy colored fingers, bringing with her light, perhaps, a signal from the baseball gods, if we were but connected with the godhead to see it.

No one saw it, what happened the next day between the Giants and the Dodgers. They saw another baseball game, a good one, a 2-1 Giants win. It was a little strand of DNA.

The Dodgers sent their 2011 Cy Young Award winner, Clayton Kershaw, against Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong, who became an All-Star in his 2011 comeback season. After a scoreless first inning, Posey singled on Kershaw's first pitch of the second inning. On Kershaw's second pitch of the second inning, Brett Pill homered to left field for a 2-0 Giants lead. Kershaw finished the night in eight innings, giving up only those two runs. The Dodgers scored a run in the second on doubles by Andre Ethier and James Loney, but that was it. The Giants turned four double plays to repeatedly escape trouble. The biggest came in the eighth, when Vogelsong intentionally walked Kemp to load the bases with one out, then Bochy brought in lefty Javier Lopez, who induced an inning ending double play from the left-handed hitting Ethier.

And there we had it, if we but knew it, just as if it were a little seed, a prototype for the Giants and Dodgers going forward. Neither club was going to hit much. The big difference between these teams is that the Giants, who developed just a slightly better than average offense (718 runs, sixth NL, 12th overall), still scored quite a lot more than the Dodgers, one of the most punchless teams in the NL with 637 runs (13th NL, 26th overall) and a .374 slugging percentage (15th NL, 28th overall). The Giants got ahead, somewhat flukishly (Pill was back in the minors a month later), and stayed ahead, as if by design. The Dodgers might have fit into the same mold, but they simply couldn't score enough to get ahead, or stay ahead, often enough.

The Dodgers won the rubber game, 6-2, as this was their moment, but the season began to turn three weeks later. As the Dodgers deteriorated and the Giants solidified, they threw body blows at each other just about whenever they met.

The Dodgers peaked at 32-15 with a 7 1/2 game lead on May 27. The Giants were 25-23. The Dodgers rightly felt good about patching themselves together and extending their lead while Kemp sat on the disabled list for two weeks. They were 21-5 at home when Milwaukee came to Dodger Stadium for a four-game series starting on May 28. The Dodgers were right where they wanted to be, and they had their man coming back on May 29.

And that's when it all began to come apart for the Dodgers. Kemp lasted two games -- five at-bats -- before going back on the disabled list. The Brewers swept the Dodgers four straight. Older players who kept the club afloat through injuries began to slow down, but the injuries did not. In addition to Kemp, the Dodgers were out second baseman Mark Ellis, left hander Ted Lilly and many others. For whatever reasons, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went away from his effective batting order against right-handed pitchers. Off being swept by Milwaukee, the Dodgers lost two of three at last-place Colorado.

Meanwhile, the Giants went home on May 28 to start a delicious home stand -- three against struggling Arizona and four against the dismal Cubs. The Giants won two of three against Arizona and swept four from the Cubs. The Giants suddenly were 31-24. In a stretch of one week, May 28-June 3, the Giants cut their deficit from 7/2 games to three games. The race was on.

During the second half of June, the Giants and Dodgers each embarked on a West Coast road trip. The Giants began theirs on June 15, losing two of three in Seattle, losing two of three in Anaheim, then winning two of three at Oakland before returning home to face the Dodgers for three starting on June 25. The Giants, now 40-33, were still three games behind the Dodgers. But the Dodgers already were reeling. They began their West Coast trip on June 19, losing three at Oakland and losing two of three at Anaheim before going back up to San Francisco on June 25. The Dodgers were 43-30.

The Giants spun three shutouts at the Dodgers, who managed 16 hits in the series. Of course, the pitching wasn't that good. The hitting was that bad. When the series ended, the Giants and Dodgers both were 43-33, tied for first place. The Dodgers went home from there and played as if they still were on a West Coast road trip, losing their first three against the New York Mets, two by shutout. The Giants brought the Reds in right as the Dodgers left and Madison Bumgarner greeted the new visitors with a nine-inning, one-hit shutout to beat Johnny Cueto.

So, a new course was charted, with the Giants expanding their lead to three games before the Dodgers returned to San Francisco on July 27. Not sure how loudly the trumpets blared in San Francisco that day when the Giants announced that they had acquired Marco Scutaro from Colorado, with cash, for a minor league player. However, they certainly weren't as loud as the trumpets in Los Angeles two days earlier, when the Dodgers picked up Hanley Ramirez from Florida.

But trumpets blared in San Francisco at the end of October, and Scutaro sounded at least a few of them. In 61 games for the Giants, Scutaro knocked in 44 runs with a slash line of .362/.385/.473/.859 in 243 at-bats. The Giants picked up the second half of Scutaro's $6 million deal for this season, but the Rockies threw in cash, so we might split the difference and say the Giants spent about $1.5 million.

In 64 games for the Dodgers, Ramirez drove in 44 runs with a slash line of .271/.324/.450/.774. The Dodgers also received lefty reliever Randy Choate in the deal, but they gave up starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer. And they committed themselves to real money for Ramirez, $39 million -- $7.5 million for the second half of 2012, and another $31.5 million before his contract runs out in 2014.

At that moment, though, the Dodgers held the upper hand. Ramirez won the July 27 opener with a two-run homer in the tenth, giving his new club a 5-3 decision. Chad Billingsley and Kershaw started shutouts for the Dodgers on the next two days and the Dodgers swept three from the Giants, moving back into a tie for first place.

The Giants went to Los Angeles on Aug. 20 for a three-game series one-half game behind the Dodgers. Less than a week earlier, the game's drug policy took down Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera, he of the .346 batting average, the .906 OPS, the All-Star Game MVP and the positive test for testosterone. Most who checked the wind were certain that it was blowing for the Dodgers when the Giants took the field at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 20. But the Giants won, 2-1, that day, taking back first place. Then, the Giants won the next two, leaving Dodger Stadium with a 2 1/2-game lead.

They would keep it for the remainder of the season. The Dodgers tried to do something about it on Aug. 25, announcing their blockbuster trade with Boston. Dealing away only James Loney from their big league roster, the Dodgers took on Josh BeckettAdrian GonzalezCarl Crawford and their big contracts, along with Nick Punto and his much smaller contract. The Dodgers made a bold play here, and a lot of people thought the Giants couldn't survive against their suddenly improved rivals. But the Dodgers would never gather their new combination offensively.

From Aug. 20 to the end of the season, the Giants were 28-13. A 22-8 sprint on the front of that run ended on Sept. 22, right as the Giants pushed their lead to its largest, 11 games with ten to play, thus clinching the division.

So, a big September pennant race involving the Giants never materialized because a big September pennant race involving the Dodgers never materialized. The Giants kind of led that game and, you know, when the Giants lead, they don't lose.

As dull as the Giants were, and for whatever reasons they escaped our notice, their dullness might be spun as a competitive virtue. When they were ahead, they brought the claw and actually started to play much better. We would expect any team to play better from ahead, and they all do, but the Giants took it to extremes. From ahead, for example, the pitching staff notched a 3.01 ERA (second in the NL and tied for second overall) and the same staff held a 4.54 ERA working from behind (11th NL, 16th overall). From ahead, the Giants hitters were good enough, considering how well they pitch. Their OPS from ahead was .736 (sixth NL, 16th overall). But from behind, they were among the game's worst teams at .671 (12th NL, 24th overall).

The Giants were bound to pull a low OPS because they were the game's worst home-run hitting team with 103 during the 2012 season. However, the Giants hit the most singles in the game (1,048) and the most triples (57) while coming up tenth in doubles (287). The Giants walked a middling amount (483 times, eighth in the NL, 14th overall), but they struck out only 1,032 times (second lowest NL, fifth lowest overall) and they ran to good effect (10th overall in steals, 118 for 157). Except for their lack of home run power, this was a very solid offensive team with no other weaknesses.

Put it all together and a club with very little pop actually finished among the top half of NL clubs in scoring for the first time since 2004, which also was the last year the Giants logged an OPS-plus on the high side of 100. The Giants, playing in pitcher friendly AT&T Park (park factor 88), rang up a 107 OPS-plus this year to lead the NL.

The runs had greater effect, one surmises, because of when the Giants scored them. Quite often, naturally, that was in the first inning, which is the highest scoring inning in baseball, anyway. On average, in 2012, teams scored 90.13 runs in the first inning. The Giants scored 118, close to one more than the average for every five games. Their opponents scored only 87, making up the difference.

So, the Giants pounced hard and quickly. A lot of the credit goes to Buster Posey, the Giants cleanup hitter who did about 25 percent of his damage in the first inning. Batting in the first inning, in 2012, Posey made 88 plate appearances with a slash line of .413/.466/.733/1.199. He totaled six doubles, six homers, 30 RBI, 13 runs and a .397 BAbip in 75 at-bats. The first inning was, by far, Posey's most productive at-bat.

Cabrera posted a first-inning OPS of .802 when he was around, and Hunter Pence went .820 OPS in the first inning, but the other Giants who batted a lot in the first inning -- Angel Pagan, Ryan Theriot and Marco Scutaro -- all were better deeper into the game. Since Cabrera's suspension, it would figure that maybe the Giants could lose their first-inning trigger.

But here came the Giants, striking first inning scores as they closed out the playoffs. In a span of six Giants wins, from Game 5 of the NLDS with Cincinnati to Game 1 of the World Series with Detroit, the Giants scored in the first inning four times, including the last two games of the NLCS and the first game of the World Series. They scored them in no particular style. Two of them were, in fact, solo homers by Pagan and Sandoval. One was little ball -- a double, a walk, a fly ball moving the lead runner to third and a grounder to the third baseman. And another wasn't even little ball -- two singles and a ground ball to the pitcher.

Anything that gets ahead, 1-0, right away sent the game off to the right start. If it couldn't happen in the first inning, it was still better late than never. We saw how the Giants reached 1-0 in World Series Game 2. It was a seventh-inning pop-up shower -- a weak single, a walk, a bunt that never rolled foul and a double play. And once the Giants have that late lead ...

That's why a lot of us wondered why Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't play the infield up to choke off the run at home. Bases were loaded and no one was out in a 0-0 game. Brandon Crawford was the batter. The runner on third was Hunter Pence, who isn't especially fleet, but who somehow got around the bases in this series and scored a run in each of three tight games. Crawford hit a double play ball to second base. Pence scored and the Giants gladly paid two outs for a 1-0 lead.

Naturally, Leyland's reasons were excellent, and the most persuasive was this, concerning a scoreless tie: You know going into the game that you're going to need a run to win it, anyway, so putting your team behind 1-0 isn't such an imposition when you can diffuse a big inning.

But it kind of depends on who you're playing, we find. The Tigers, for example, weren't very good with the lead during the postseason. Four times during the playoffs (there was nearly a fifth), the Tigers blew late inning leads, though they recovered to win two of those games. During the season, the Tigers were the second best team in baseball with their .771 OPS playing from behind, and we can see how that contributed to their success with a shaky bullpen. So, falling behind the Tigers wasn't a terrible fate, but staying ahead of them was often futile. The Giants showed repeatedly, though, during the regular season and especially the playoffs, that they were good at staying ahead. That's exactly where they liked to get the game and keep it.

The Tigers lumbered their way through a lot of their late innings, somehow, but World Series Games 2 and 4 revealed a bullpen that couldn't keep up. We might be telling a different story if Jose Valverde were what the Tigers hoped he was, and what he had been at times during his career. But the Giants had a tough bullpen for anyone to match, and the Tigers might not have kept up even with Valverde. We saw very little rally in these Tiger hitters, who usually were so good from behind. But, of course, we're just applying Rule One: Good pitching beats good hitting. Giants, 3.01 ERA pitching from ahead, second best in the game. Tigers, .771 OPS batting from behind, second best in the game. Advantage: pitching.

Maybe, then, just as a special consideration about how they play, you didn't want to fall behind the Giants at all. In the end, though, you can't say Leyland's Game 2 decision cost him anything, by parity with his reasoning: the Tigers didn't score the run they knew they would need, anyway, falling, 2-0, and taking a 2-0 World Series deficit back to Detroit for Game 3.

The Tigers didn't score in Game 3, either, and they played it much more as if they were concerned to keep the Giants from scoring at all, but the Giants somehow forced the action from its hiding places and took that lead when you weren't looking. Top of the second, scoreless Game 3, Pence walked to start the inning against Detroit's Annibal Sanchez. Because Pence had attempted only 17 stolen bases in the last two seasons, it made perfect sense that he would run on a two-strike pitch to Brandon Belt, which he did. Belt didn't offer and got himself rung up. Pence was a surprising safe arrival at second base. From a remote corner of possibility, the Giants traded that out for a base, and now they were in scoring position with one out.

So, Sanchez lost his nerve and threw a wild pitch. Pence moved up to third, bringing the Giants within a fly ball of taking that first run (The Giants were 67-22 when they scored first during the regular season.). Blanco hit that fly ball, a long way, between the right fielder and center field, all the way to one of the deepest walls in the park, triple. Pence scored. Two batters later, Crawford, the No. 9 hitter, singled to center, driving in Blanco.

The Giants nursed their 2-0 lead for the rest of the night. Their pitchers were Vogelsong, who was recently recovered from the scrap heap, Tim Lincecum, trying to stay off the scrap heap, and loveable Sergio Romo, who threw right-handed hitters almost nothing but darting 80 MPH sliders low and away. The Giants' Game 2 starter was Bumgarner, who Bochy had skipped for a while since a poor outing in NLCS Game 1 against St. Louis. The Giants' Game 1 starter was Barry Zito, who Bochy skipped for the 2010 World Series.

It seemed that every starter the Giants threw out there had some kind of an asterisk -- a bad year sometime, or a bad couple months, or a bad start just now -- and it always blew over just about the moment he began to throw in the World Series. Chances are, he had the lead, and he certainly wasn't behind. More likely, it's because he's a good pitcher who has done something in the game. Zito and Lincecum have won Cy Young Awards. Vogelsong and Matt Cain have been in All-Star Games. Bumgarner is just getting started, but he has 36 wins in the big leagues at 22. All, except Vogelsong, took regular turns in the Giants rotation during the 2010 World Championship season.

The fourth and final game of the World Series actually played out dramatically. The Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning against Cain, tying the game, 3-3. But the drama was short lived. After all, the Giants already had the lead, the big lead, 3-0 in the series. So, the Giants scored in the top of the tenth on a single, a bunt and a single, then Sergio Romo polished off the tenth, and that was it. A dull postseason and a dull World Series finished with an exciting game. It was deceptive, and still predictable. After all, the Giants had the lead. That’s usually how it ended.

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