STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Please take a chance, if you can, and send condolences to NPR's Don Gonyea, one of the nation's more prominent Tigers fans. The San Francisco Giants are the World Series champions; completing a four-game sweep last night, and beating the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in 10 innings.
Few people expected a sweep. But then again, the Giants were a surprise team this baseball season. NPR's Mike Pesca reports that San Francisco's pitching, and defense, dominated this series.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Baseball - it's a strange game. It's a quirky game.
JIM LEYLAND: It's a freaky game. And it happened, and so be it.
PESCA: Jim Leyland's right; downright freaky. The Tigers manager was asked - as managers are - to explain the normally powerful Tigers' lack of offense this series. He said the other guys pitched well, and we could've done better. The most offensively underperforming Tiger was Prince Fielder, who knows all about baseball's unusual properties.
PRINCE FIELDER: It's tough, you know. You've got to hit a round ball with a round bat - square, you know. And if they're making tough pitches, it's hard to do it.
PESCA: Think of it: The Tigers had strutted into this series having just swept the powerful Yankees. The Giants had a perilous path. They were forced to win three games in a row, against the Cardinals. And they did. And they kept on winning. A win last night would be seven in a row, which they hadn't done all season. The Giants took a one-run lead in the second. But then in the third, Miguel Cabrera came up to bat with a man on. Joe Buck had the call on Fox.
(SOUNDBITE OF FOX BASEBALL BROADCAST)
PESCA: This was no mere, go-ahead run - wind-aided though it was. This was the first time the Tigers led in the series. This was the first time the Giants had trailed, in 56 innings. And Cabrera's homer brought some other weird facts to mind, like this - Cabrera had hit 28 home runs in his home ball park during the regular season. The Giants had clubbed 31 homers in their home, as an entire team. They don't have power. They really only have two good hitters. How do they do it?
BUSTER POSEY: Pitching and defense.
JEREMY AFFELDT: Pitching and defense.
BRUCE BOCHY: Pitching and defense.
PESCA: That theory, advanced by - in order - catcher Buster Posey, who hit the Giants' go-ahead home run in the sixth; Jeremy Affeldt, who sat down five consecutive Tigers, to preserve a tie; and lastly, manager Bruce Bochy, who just might have had the most tactically pristine World Series in modern history. But the Tigers, and their fans, when they found the score tied at three late, did not stop believing.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG DURING BASEBALL GAME)
PESCA: The problem, for the Tigers, is the very lyric that warrants this song's inclusion on the Comerica Park soundtrack. When Journey sings about a small-town boy...
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD SINGING ALONG WITH JOURNEY SONG, "DON'T STOP BELIEVING")
PESCA: ...it is a fiction. There is no South Detroit. South Detroit is in Canada. And Journey is a San Francisco band. Remember that set of facts when I tell you that with the Giants batting in the 10th inning, Ryan Theriot got on, and Marco Scutaro singled him home. And then, closer Sergio Romo struck out the side, to preserve the World Series victory. Once more, Joe Buck - on Fox - with the call.
(SOUNDBITE OF FOX BROADCAST)
PESCA: Sure, why not? These Giants were the league laggards, in home runs. Their ace pitcher, Tim Lincecum, fell apart during the year; and their best hitter was suspended for using a banned substance, with a month and a half left in the season. It is not a textbook way to win a championship - except for that part about stellar pitching and steady defense. Yeah, baseball's a quirky game, but there are some constants. And the Giants, with their second World Series win in three years, are approaching that status.
Mike Pesca, NPR News, Detroit.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.