Just 11 days ago, the Giants were trailing the Cardinals 3-1 in the NLCS and had Barry Zito going to the mound trying to keep their season alive.
Now, they’re World Series champs for the second time in the last three years.
San Francisco finished off the stunning sweep of the Tigers Sunday, defeating them 4-3 in extra innings in front of a dejected Detroit crowd. It was fitting that Marco Scutaro would be the one to drive home the winning run in the 10th. The midseason acquisition on Sunday had his eighth multi-hit game in 11 tries since the start of the NLCS.
But while it was Scutaro that delivered the game-winning hit, Pablo Sandoval deservedly took home World Series MVP honors after batting .500/.529/1.125 with three home runs. He became the fourth player in history to record a three-homer game in World Series play, and he fell just one hit shy of tying a postseason record with his 24 base knocks.
There were certainly notable performances at the plate for the Giants, but the story for the series was undoubtedly their pitching. San Francisco’s starters allowed just four runs over 25 1/3 innings, good for a sparkling 1.42 ERA. Their relievers were even better, as they put up a 1.54 ERA over 11 2/3 frames and, remarkably, gave up just two hits. Both of the hits and runs were allowed by George Kontos, so if you take him out of the equation, the Giants’ relievers tossed 11 1/3 innings of hitless ball, walking just two.
As for the Tigers, their pitching was very good other than Justin Verlander’s and Jose Valverde’s blowups in Game 1. Their offense simply couldn’t get anything going, as they mustered just six runs and 20 hits over 37 innings. Miguel Cabrera batted only .231 for the series, while Prince Fielder managed a lowly .071 mark. The two combined for just one extra-base hit (Cabrera’s Game 4 homer).
The Tigers were considered the favorites against the Cardinals in 2006 and again versus the Giants this year, but they managed to win just one of nine World Series contests. However, the good news is that Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister will all be back, and Victor Martinez will be added to a robust middle of the order. It also doesn’t hurt that they play in the AL Central. With 6/1 odds, Detroit is listed by Bovada as the early favorites to be 2013 World Series champs. San Francisco has the third-best odds at 10/1.
Hyun-Jin Coming to America
Korean southpaw Ryu Hyun-Jin appears ticketed for the major leagues next season.
The 25-year-old will be made available for posting this winter by the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. Although Hanwha has the capability to reject the highest bid and keep Hyun-Jin on their roster, it seems likely that some team will be willing to pay enough for that not to happen. Hyun-Jin has already hired Scott Boras as his agent.
Hyun-Jin starred for the gold medal-winning South Koreans in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and for the club that finished second in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The left-hander reportedly has a fastball that he can run up to 93 mph and possesses a good feel for three secondary offerings. He's led the KBO in strikeouts on five occasions.
Hyun-Jin joins Shohei Otani among the intriguing names that will make the move to MLB next season. Otani will be subject to the $2.9 million international bonus pool and thus will cost much less. He also might have more upside than Hyun-Jin. However, Hyun-Jin is seven years older and seems likely to compete for a spot in a major league rotation immediately.
National League Quick Hits: The Phillies have picked up Carlos Ruiz’s $5 million option for 2013. It was obviously a no-brainer, given Ruiz’s .325/.394/.540 batting line with 16 homers this season. The 33-year-old will be eligible for free agency after next season, but the Phils will surely try to lock him up before then ... Joel Sherman of the New York Post has suggested that the Mets and Phillies could be players for Melky Cabrera this offseason. It sounds like speculation on his part, and it could depend on whether Cabrera has to wind up settling for a one-year deal ... Sherman also has reported that the Mets will target Miguel Olivo this winter. He would likely be used in tandem with Josh Thole ... Chad Billingsley is scheduled to throw a simulated game this week, which will go a long way in determining whether he’ll need Tommy John surgery. Obviously, he’ll miss all of 2013 if it turns out an operation is required ... The Dodgers are discussing a three-year extension with impending free agent Brandon League. He would be used in a setup role ahead of Kenley Jansen ... Carl Crawford is reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The outfielder is hoping to be ready for the start of spring training, but the Dodgers will be happy if they can just have him available by April.
American League Quick Hits: The Yankees have picked up the 2013 options on Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and David Aardsma. Cano and Granderson will both make $15 million, while Aardsma will earn $500,000 plus incentives. The Yanks will likely pursue a long-term extension for Cano soon, as he’s currently slated to hit free agency after next season. Cano is reportedly looking for a $200 million deal ... Omar Infante has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, which occurred in Sunday’s World Series Game 4 loss. He doesn’t need surgery and should be fine for spring training ... The White Sox haven’t ruled out re-signing A.J. Pierzynski, but they are confident Tyler Flowers can be a solid everyday catcher. Flowers has batted .205/.307/.388 over parts of four seasons for Chicago ... Nick Markakis will be cleared for full activities on Tuesday. Coming back from surgery on his left thumb, he’s expected to have a normal offseason and be 100 percent for spring training ... The Royals continue to have negotiations with Joakim Soria regarding a new deal. Kansas City has declined Soria’s $8 million option for 2013, but they expect to sign him to a new contract. Soria is recovering from Tommy John surgery ... The Mariners are expected to make a strong push to re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma should have no shortage of suitors, though, after posting a 2.65 ERA in 16 starts this season ... The Twins have declined Scott Baker’s $9.25 million option for 2013. Baker missed all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, but the Twins are hoping to re-sign him to a lesser deal.