The 2012 San Francisco Giants can be described in various ways. They were exciting, quirky, hard-working, and persevering to name a few.
Pablo Sandoval, when asked of a word that could describe the team, he said, “Heart”. After all the team went through, this was the absolute perfect word to describe what the team was made of. The Giants did it all in the playoffs. The team came back from a 0-2 deficit in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds and a 1-3 deficit in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The World Series was a breeze for the Giants as they swept the Detroit Tigers in incredible fashion. It took extra innings in Game 4, but after two straight shutouts, the Giants had to work at least a bit to get their rings.
At the beginning of the season, fans had high hopes for the club as all fans do. The team got off to a bit of a slow start but picked up the pace as expected. The Los Angeles Dodgers looked to be a threat after an unexpected hot start, and the race was on. The Arizona Diamondbacks hung with the top two teams for a short period of time but in the end it became a two-team race.
It was at the beginning of the year when the Giants were faced with the first bit of adversity. Closer Brian Wilson was lost to his second Tommy John surgery. The team decided to go with closer-by-committee, and that worked fabulously (mainly Sergio Romo stepping up as the closer towards the end of the season).
The second and more shocking loss came in August when the Giants lost All Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension for the use of PEDs. Cabrera was the team leader in average and basically carried the offense. Once Cabrera was gone for the rest of the season, most of the fans wrote the team off.
Then came the trade deadline. The Dodgers were making moves like no other, most notably acquiring struggling Miami Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez was supposed to provide the Dodgers a sufficient boost to carry them to the post-season and beyond.
The Giants countered this move with a trade that brought Hunter Pence over from the Philadelphia Phillies for Nate Schierholtz and prospects. The Giants needed a power-hitting righty and they went out and got one. The race was in full swing.
After the trade deadline passed, it looked as if the teams were set and it would be a battle between the Giants and Dodgers for the NL West crown. But, to everyone’s surprise, the Dodgers claimed four Boston Red Sox players off waivers and initiated a blockbuster trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to Los Angeles.
It looked like the division was won. The Giants did not give up.Buster Posey had one of the best second halves of all time and secured a spot among the top of the MVP race while carrying the team past the Dodgers to win the division by a large margin.
Beside the adversity of losing Cabrera and Wilson, the Giants also had to deal with their struggling ace: Tim Lincecum. Lincecum never found himself this year, having an atrocious first half and a mediocre second half. The Freak was no longer reliable. The Giants would need another ace to step up.
Cue Matt Cain, “the horse”. Cain was spectacular the whole year (despite a hiccup or two), starting the All Star Game and throwing a perfect game. Cain was exactly what the Giants needed with Lincecum mired in a deep pitching-slump. Barry Zito was also a pleasant surprise, pitching better than he had all his years on the Giants.
Once the postseason came, the Giants seemed ready for the challenge. They would face the Reds as the third seed, which would be no easy task. After dropping the first two games of the five-game series at home, Hunter Pence, an unlikely source of inspiration gave a speech for the ages.
The speech was obviously enough for the Giants; they won three games in a row in Cincinnati to advance to the NLCS. After waiting to see who they would play, the Giants flew home to play the St. Louis Cardinals. The Giants and Cardinals split in San Francisco, and both teams headed to St. Louis with most of the momentum pointing toward the Cardinals.
The Cardinals won the next two games and it looked like the Giants were dead. Barry Zito stepped up and won game five to send the series back to San Francisco. Giants’ fans were optimistic. The Giants pulled off another miraculous comeback and won games six and seven to advance to the World Series.
The World Series was set up to go the Tigers’ way, with Justin Verlander to start the first game in San Francisco against Barry Zito and the series going back to Detroit for games three, four and five.
The series ended up going in a completely opposite direction (Pablo Sandoval stole the show) and the before anyone knew it, the Giants were up 3-0 with their ace, Matt Cain on the mound for game four. At this point it was destiny for the Giants as they went on to sweep the Tigers and bring home their second World Series trophy in three years.
The Giants were counted out multiple times by numerous people. In the end, there are many adjectives that could describe the 2012 San Francisco Giants. But there is only one that truly matters: World Series Champions.