National / Sports / November 3, 2010

Giants end championship draught

For the first time since 1954, the Giants savor another World Series title.

Every Giants player, trainer and fan applauded their giant performance at Arlington on Monday after closer Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz to secure San Francisco’s first World Series title.

However, credit not only the coaching staff for managing a resilient team cast off by critics as “misfits,” but the players for their selfless and unexpected contributions throughout this postseason.

In their first postseason game against the Atlanta Braves, the Giants scored one run in a duel between Atlanta’s Derek Lowe and San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum. But that one run came on a seeing-eye single Cody Ross, a waiver claim in late August. (A waiver claim made by Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean with the sole purpose of preventing the rival San Diego Padres from receiving Ross.)

Ross’ clutch performance struck again in game four of the Division Series, when he hit a homer to give the Giants a 3-2 lead that eventually helped them advance to the National League Champion Series (NLCS). According to Ross, he swung a hot bat because Edgar Renteria advised him to keep his legs down.

Boy, did that advice pay off for a player that belted two more homers in game one against Roy Halladay, finishing the championship series with a .350 average and three home runs to earn the NLCS Most Valuable Player award.

Even more mystifying was 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner’s post-season performance. In his debut against the Braves, he pitched six innings with two runs, a walk and five strikeouts. Although his second appearance against the Phillies lastly only 4 2/3 innings, he redeemed himself by pitching two scoreless relief innings to preserve the Giants’ lead in game six. This win eventually sent the Giants back to the World Series for the second time in a decade.

Bumgarner shocked his critics further as he threw 8 shutout innings to give the Giants a 3-1 advantage in the World Series.

Another misfit propelling the Giants offense was Juan Uribe, who was batting .143 heading into game four of the NLCS. But his sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth against Roy Oswalt in game four gave the Giants a 3-1 series lead, giving him every reason to be deserving of the title “Mr. Clutch.” His performance was, once again, recognized in game six, when he hit a home run off reliever Ryan Madson that put the Giants ahead, and ultimately downed the defending National League champion with the Phillies.

No one expected the Giants to score seven runs (five earned) against Cliff Lee in the first game of the World Series; in fact, most naysayers expected to the Giants to fall against Cliff Lee and his potent Texas offense. But what was supposed to be a pitchers’ duel between Lee and Lincecum ended up being an 11-7 Giant win.

The next game, too, was a laugher, as the Giants won what was their last home game of 2010 9-0.

And, in the clincher, certainly no one expected the oft-criticized shortstop Edgar Renteria to launch a three-run shot to left-center off of Lee, putting the Rangers up 3-0, and ultimately delivering San Francisco a title. Renteria was later named series MVP.

In short, though these players have nothing in common, give credit to every player—be they clutch players or bench players—because they worked together as a team to win not just a series, but also—and ultimately—a W

David Ka Wai Pan

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