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The winning formula

Tue., Oct. 30, 2012

Giants make the right moves during World Series run

The Giants’ championship formula is a familiar one, just with new faces all over the diamond two years later: stellar starting pitching backed by a shut-down bullpen, a late-season surge and a manager making all the right moves.

San Francisco captured its second World Series title in three seasons with a stunning sweep of the Detroit Tigers, and only catcher Buster Posey was in the lineup for the Game 5 clincher in 2010 at Texas and also the finale at Comerica Park in 2012.

“We’re just happy right now,” Posey said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Two of the four games against Detroit were started and won by a pair of pitchers not even on the World Series roster in 2010, and in Ryan Vogelsong’s case he wasn’t even in the majors yet.

The only regular still around from that team is Posey, and the catcher had to rebound from devastating ankle and leg injuries sustained in a home-plate collision in late May 2011 to put together an MVP-caliber season and become the N.L. batting champion. This time, a couple of bench warmers from that last October run shined for San Francisco – MVP Pablo Sandoval and Game 1 winner Barry Zito. The lefty Zito was left off the postseason roster for all three rounds in 2010.

“Just as a player, certainly you want to play on a team that wins the World Series. And to go out there and contribute, there’s nothing like that,” Zito said. “We were very adamant that we have to step on their throats. We saw what they did to New York.”

Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence were this year’s midseason additions, with Scutaro following up Cody Ross in 2010 to earn N.L. championship series MVP honors. While Scutaro produced the timely hits, including a go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th inning of Sunday’s 4-3 win, Pence did plenty and became the motivational speaker of this group. He reminded his teammates to keep the focus even when they jumped out to a surprising 3-0 Series lead against the Tigers.

These Giants showed they could rally back – again and again – and also thrive when playing out in front.

They fell behind 2-0 to the Cincinnati Reds in the division series, then became the first team in major league history to rally back in a five-game series by winning three straight road games. They did it again against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, erasing a 3-1 deficit thanks largely to Zito’s Game 5 victory at Busch Stadium that sent the Giants back to the Bay Area to finish it off in San Francisco.

Six victories in six elimination games.

“The thing that made this team so special is just playing as a team, caring for each other,” Pence said. “We had our backs against the wall and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s not supposed to be. That was one of our mottos, and we went out there to enjoy every minute of it and it was hard-earned. Just an incredible, incredible group of guys that fought for each other.”

Much like that 2010 team of “castoffs and misfits” as they referred to themselves, manager Bruce Bochy had to make some tough calls. He moved struggling starter Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, and he became a dominant reliever. Another spot-on move by Bochy, who became just the 23rd manager to win two or more World Series titles.

Bochy, for one, is tired of hearing people call it luck.

“For us to play like we did against this great club, I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Bochy said. “To be world champions in two out of the last three years, it’s amazing. Believe me, I know how difficult it is to get here, and I couldn’t be prouder of a group of guys that were not going to be denied.”

“It’s what you work for all season,” Scutaro said. “I don’t even know what to say right now. We just won the World Series. It’s still priceless.”

Yankees exercise Cano, Granderson options

Baseball’s business began with the New York Yankees exercising $15 million options on second baseman Robinson Cano and center fielder Curtis Granderson.

Oakland exercised a $4.5 million option for closer Grant Balfour and declined its half of a $10 million mutual option for shortstop Stephen Drew, who receives a $1.35 million buyout.

Minnesota declined a $9.25 million option on right-hander Scott Baker.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who haven’t made the playoffs in three years, declined options on first baseman Juan Rivera ($4 million), right-hander Todd Coffey ($2.5 million) and catcher Matt Treanor ($950,000).

M’s name Kissner new international director

The Seattle Mariners have hired Tim Kissner as their new director of international operations.

He worked the past two seasons as a crosschecker in the Chicago Cubs organization and before that spent 10 years with the Philadelphia Phillies. From 2008 to 2010, he was the Pacific Rim coordinator for the Phillies.



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