- Last Updated: 10:46 AM, October 23, 2012
- Posted: 3:07 AM, October 23, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — This World Series is all about Magic vs. Muscle.
The Tigers, who swept the Yankees, own the muscle. The Giants own the magic. That was never clearer than in the third inning last night at AT&T Park.
Three is a pivotal baseball number. Getting three outs in an inning is what the game is all about. Hitting the ball three times on one swing is crazy. That’s what happened on Hunter Pence’s at-bat, when three men were on base in that third inning. All three scored.
Joe Kelly’s pitch shattered Pence’s bat but the ball remained frozen in the air as the barrel of the broken bat came around and hit the ball again, then gave the baseball one final nudge that sent a knuckleball toward shortstop.
The ball started left, darted right, past disbelieving Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma and out to center field. By the time the play ended, all three runners came around and the Giants were on their way to a five-run inning and their second World Series in three years with a resounding 9-0 victory at AT&T Park.
“That was the biggest at-bat of the game,’’ ex-Met Angel Pagan told the Post as the rain poured down on the Giants’ victory celebration on the field.
A few feet away, Pence said he didn’t even realize he had hit the ball more than once.
“I told [Giants special advisor] Will Clark before the at-bat that good hitters get jammed so I was just going to try to stay through the ball,” Pence said. “It’s amazing what happened. That’s never happened to me before.’’
“Only Hunter,’’ Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “The baseball gods helped us.’’
Thus marked the second straight series the Giants won three straight games while facing elimination. In these last three games of the NLCS, they mauled the defending champs’ pitching, scoring 20 runs.
Pagan promised the Giants will keep on rolling through the World Series.
“This is a dream come true,’’ Pagan said. “There’s one step to go. We’re not done yet. This is a special group of players — we are just so confident.’’
The mighty Tigers, whose lineup has the biggest of hitters in Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young, and all those hard-throwing right-handed pitchers, led by Justin Verlander, had better be prepared for an Orange October tomorrow after so many days of chilling back in Detroit.
This Giants victory came 50 years after the last Game 7 was played in this city at Candlestick Park when Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson snagged Willie McCovey’s vicious line drive with runners on second and third to preserve the Yankees’ 1-0 World Series clinching win.
Half a century later, the second base tables were turned as Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro was named MVP of this series with three more hits last night to give him 14 for the NLCS.
Redemption is the greatest baseball act. A few months ago, Scutaro was just another veteran playing out the season for the Rockies. Then he was traded to the Giants, whose general manager, Brian Sabean, knows how to build a winner on the fly. Scutaro was taken out by a slide by Matt Holliday in Game 1 and proceeded to take out the Cardinals, as he hit .500 in the series.
“We were written off so many times,’’ Bochy said, “but these guys found a way to get it done. We just did not want to go home. We’re going to need to pitch well to beat the Tigers.’’
In so many ways, these Giants have a New York connection. Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti was a former Yankees star. Sabean worked for George Steinbrenner, developing talent and took a number of Yankees scouts west. His right-hand man is ex-Yankees pitcher Dick Tidrow, affectionately known as Dirt.
“We don’t give up,’’ added Pagan, who guaranteed this Game 7 victory Sunday night. “We’re a tough team and we’re hungry.’’
Hungry like the wolf.
The Giants own the magic. The Tigers own the muscle. Let the fun begin.