2012 World Series
The 2012 World Series was the 108th edition of Major League Baseball's (MLB) championship series. The best-of-seven playoff was won by the National League champion San Francisco Giants in four games over the American League champion Detroit Tigers. It was the Giants' seventh World Series title. The Tigers became only the third team to be swept in the World Series after sweeping the League Championship Series (LCS), following the 1990 Oakland Athletics and the 2007 Colorado Rockies. It also marks the first time since 1990 to feature a National League sweep of the American League. The Giants' Pablo Sandoval, who in Game 1 tied a record for hitting three home runs in a World Series game, was named the World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP).
As has been standard since 2003, home field advantage for the series was decided by the outcome of the All-Star Game. The 2012 All-Star Game, played on July 10 in Kansas City, Missouri, was won 8–0 by the National League. (The two teams were heavily involved in the outcome: of the eight runs, all but one were scored and/or driven in by a Giant, while the NL's five first-inning runs were given up by Tigers ace Justin Verlander.) The 2012 World Series began on Wednesday, October 24 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, and ended on Sunday, October 28 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. This was the fourth World Series matchup since the MLB postseason expanded to three rounds that one team won its LCS in a sweep and the other was extended through a Game 7. The previous three occurrences saw the Game 7 pennant-winner prevail, in 1988, 2006 and 2007, and this trend continued with this series.
The Giants finished the regular season at 94–68 to win the National League West title before defeating the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series in five games, losing the first two at home but winning the last three on the road, the first major league team ever to do so. They then came back from a 3–1 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending 2011 World Series champions, in the National League Championship Series, thus winning all six games facing elimination in consecutive postseason series, another first. This was the Giants' 22nd NL pennant, and their second World Series appearance in three years (since 2010, when they defeated the Texas Rangers in five games).
The Tigers finished the regular season at 88–74 and won the American League Central title, their first repeat title in the divisional-play era (i.e., since 1969) and their first consecutive titles or playoff appearances since 1934–1935. They defeated the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series three games to two, and then swept the New York Yankees four games to none in the American League Championship Series, to win their 11th American League pennant and earn their first Series appearance since 2006, when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals four games to one. The Tigers became the fourth American League team to sweep the ALCS in a best-of-7 series; and joined the previous as World Series runner ups (1988 and '90 Oakland A's and 2006 Detroit Tigers).
The Giants jumped to a 6–0 lead in the fifth inning en route to a 8–3 victory in Game 1, on the strength of Pablo Sandoval's 4-for-4 with 4 RBI, on three home runs his first three times up and a final single. He joined Babe Ruth (in 1926 & 1928), Reggie Jackson (in 1977) and Albert Pujols (in 2011) as the only players ever to hit three home runs in one World Series game. Sandoval was the first player to hit three homers in Game 1 of the Series, and the only one to homer in his first three plate appearances. Tigers ace Justin Verlander lasted only four innings, giving up five Giant runs, including Sandoval's first two homers. San Francisco starting pitcher Barry Zito did much better, allowing only one run in 5 2/3 innings. The Giants scored their final two runs in the seventh inning off demoted Tigers closer José Valverde, who hadn't pitched since Game 1 of the ALCS and who had surrendered nine earned runs in his last two appearances, against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS and the Athletics in Game 4 of the ALCS, for two consecutive ninth-inning blown-save collapses in 3 1/3 postseason innings. Jhonny Peralta hit the Tigers' only home run, for two meaningless runs in the ninth with the game out of reach.
The Giants went ahead 2–0 in the series after winning Game 2. The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the seventh when, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Brandon Crawford grounded into a double play scoring Hunter Pence, whose sacrifice fly in the eighth, with the bases loaded and one out, in turn scored Pagán with the second and last Giant run. The Tigers' best chance to score occurred in top of the second. With Prince Fielder on first, slugger Delmon Young lined a double into the left field corner. Fielder was sent home on a gamble by third base coach Gene Lamont, but was tagged out on a close play at the plate by catcher Buster Posey after two perfect relay throws (from left fielder Gregor Blanco and, moving to the left side of the diamond to serve as the backup cutoff man after Blanco had overthrown shortstop Brandon Crawford as the intended lead cutoff man, second baseman Marco Scutaro). Madison Bumgarner pitched seven shutout innings, yielding only two hits with eight strikeouts, for the win.
With their 2–0 victory in Game 3, the Giants became the first team in a World Series to record back-to-back shutouts since the Baltimore Orioles threw three straight against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Games 2-4, completing a sweep of the 1966; and the first NL team to do so since the Cincinnati Reds threw back-to-back shutouts against the Chicago White Sox (soon to be disgraced as the traitorous Series-throwing Black Sox) in 1919.San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings. Detroit had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth inning, but Vogelsong got Quintin Berry to strike out swinging and Miguel Cabrera to pop out harmlessly on the second pitch (after lining a hard grounder just foul past the first base on the first pitch) to end the Tigers' scoring threat. The only runs of the game were scored in the Giant half of the second inning, on a one-out triple by Gregor Blanco scoring Hunter Pence from second and a hard two-out single by Brandon Crawford scoring Blanco.
Scutaro's RBI single in the top of the tenth, allowing Ryan Theriot to score, was the difference in the Giants' 4–3 victory in Game 4, sweeping the Tigers to win the World Series. San Francisco had scored first in the top of the second when Brandon Belt tripled to right field with one out, scoring Hunter Pence just as they had done in the same inning of Game 3, but this time the Giants could not score Belt from third even with two hard-hit balls (Blanco's hard grounder right at second baseman Infánte, and Crawford's near-gapper to right-center run down by right fielder Dirks).Detroit took the lead in the 3rd inning with Cabrera's two-run homer off Matt Cain, a wind-aided, otherwise routine high fly that just made it over the wall in right-center for an opposite-field round-tripper which gave the Tigers their first and only lead of the Series, ending a 20-inning scoreless streak. The Giants regained the lead with Buster Posey's resounding blast for a two-run homer in the top of the sixth just to the right of the left field foul pole, but Delmon Young tied the game on a Matt Cain hanging slider with a line shot off-field solo home run to right-center in the bottom of the frame. After stellar relief from Jeremy Affeldt and winning pitcher Santiago Casilla in the eighth and ninth, the game went into extra innings. The top of the tenth opened with Scutaro's winning single and Ryan Theriot, who had opened the inning with a clean single, closer Sergio Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th, ending with a called third strike on Cabrera on a surprise tailing fastball (after several consecutive hard sliders) for the last out (and his third save) of the Series.