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San Fran Pitches Past Tired Texas
November 2, 2010
It wasn't watched by many and tension was lacking in some games, but the 2010 World Series displayed some of the best pitching performances by a winning team ever. The San Francisco Giants relied on dominant pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting just to get into the playoffs, setting several records in September, including the longest streak of allowing three or fewer runs in a season (18 games) since 1917. Once October began, the formula was much the same, with four shutouts in the three series providing the exclamation point on the season belonging the the Giants.
What felt like a team of destiny just over a week ago now just looked flat. For all of the accomplishments achieved in beating AL East beasts Tampa and New York, the Rangers looked uninterested once the World Series began.
Appearing more like observers than participants, Texas couldn't get its act together against the likes of Cain, Bumgarner, and Lincecum. Credit San Francisco's pitching for making the difference, but a rookie battery of Bumgarner and Posey simply shouldn't make veterans like Hamilton, Guerrero, Cruz, Molina, and Kinsler look so foolish. In the five games, Josh Hamilton seemed to pop up every good pitch he saw while future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero looked like he was 35 going on 80. No longer a fielder (as demonstrated in Game 1), Guerrero also looked lost at the plate, striking out an unusual amount of times for a player known to make contact with any ball "nose to toes."
With a series batting average of just .249, San Francisco relied more on "when" than "how much" when it came to hitting, with World Series MVP Edgar Renteria's Game 5 home run making that point very clear. The knock on the Giants from Day 1 was a lack of hitting, but unlikely heroes like Ross, Uribe, Sanchez, and Huff made viewers forget about the A-Rods and Ryan Howards of series past. Most impressive was defeating the previously unbeatable Cliff Lee in two of the five games. San Francisco had plenty of offensive struggles during the season, but they hit when it mattered most, even when the opposition was Halladay, Oswalt, or Cliff Lee.
Make no mistake: the winning lineup was a group of castoffs: Ross from the waiver wire, Uribe from a minor league contract, Burrell when Tampa said "no thanks," Huff taking a deal when there were no other takers, Torres a career minor leaguer, and on and on. Maybe that's what makes it so special: in a year when the biggest contract in Barry Zito is relegated to the sidelines while another fat contract in Aaron Rowand only got 4 at bats, it was the "castoffs" who righted the ship and gave San Francisco its first World Series Championship. Of course, some world class pitching always helps.
Youngsters like Buster Posey and a rotation under contract for several more years suggest that San Francisco might take another trolley or two to the World Series soon, but 2010 should be celebrated like no other. The Braves of the '90s will tell you that nothing is a guarantee. Enjoy it San Francisco: you earned it.