The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants never faced each other in a World Series until 2012. The Tigers entered the series with a 7-2 postseason record in 2012 and momentum. The Giants had to win two elimination games to make the series. It appeared the well-rested Tigers would roll. However, the Giants manhandled Detroit sweeping the Tigers out of the fall classic on their way to their second championship in three seasons.
The Tigers swept the Yankees in the American League Championship Series while the Giants defeated the World Champion Cardinals in seven. Detroit had time to rest and set up their rotation for San Francisco. Since the National and American League Championship Series moved to a best-of-seven format, teams coming off sweeps are 1-5 including the 2012 Tigers. Only the 1995 Atlanta Braves managed to win after sweeping the opposition in the previous round.
Game One featured three Cy Young winners in a fall classic game for the first time since the 1983 World Series when Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan pitched for the Orioles against Steve Carlton of the Phillies. 2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander matched up against 2002 winner Barry Zito. Two-time winner Tim Lincecum relieved Zito in the sixth. Pablo Sandoval trumped the pitching pedigrees with a three home run performance for the Giants. He joined Albert Pujols, Reggie Jackson, and Babe Ruth (twice) as the only players to hit three in a World Series. San Francisco clubbed Detroit 8-3.
The Tigers did not worry after losing Game One. Sandoval just had one of those moments. Game Two proved key to the series. The Giants’ Madison Baumgarner matched up against Doug Fister. Fister pitched well enough to win, but the Tigers could not score. The Giants shutout the Tigers 2-0 to extend their series lead. The key moment in the series came in the top of the second inning when Tiger third base coach Gene Lamont waved slow-footed Prince Fielder home on Delmon Young’s double to the left field corner. The Giants threw Fielder out at home ending the Tiger threat. Detroit slept through the rest of the series and Lamont eventually moved to the dugout as bench coach.
The Giants repeated their Game Two pitching performance in Game Three. They became the first team since the 1966 Baltimore Orioles to throw back-to-back World Series shutouts. San Francisco scored the game’s only runs in the second. Gregor Blanco’s triple scored Hunter Pence and then Brandon Crawford singled in Blanco. Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum, and Sergio Romo combined on the shutout. Anibal Sanchez was the tough luck loser for the Tigers.
The Giants took their 3-0 series lead and handed the ball to their ace Matt Cain. Detroit started Max Scherzer in the hopes of beginning a miraculous comeback. The Tigers showed spirit and forced extra innings. Phil Coke struck out seven straight Giants setting a World Series record before allowing the winning run to score in the tenth. Romo struck out the side in order to clinch the series for San Francisco.
The Tigers managed only six runs in the four games. They became the fifth team since 1985 to sweep the Championship Series and lose the World Series. The Tigers hit .159 as a team and posted a pedestrian 4.11 ERA. Miguel Cabrera hit just .231 and Prince Fielder managed just .071. Omar Infante (.333) and Delmon Young (.357) were the only Tigers to perform well. Meanwhile, World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval hit .500 with three home runs and a 1.654 OPS. No other Giant regular hit higher .267. The Giants hit just .242, but had a composite 1.46 team ERA. In the end, Giants pitching defeated the Tigers and their Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.