Giants’ focus on pitching proves right again, but with a new cast

Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesCatching fire: Catcher Buster Posey

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 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 back then.

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 NL batting champ. He played far more than anybody envisioned his body would allow.

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.

Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence were this year’s midseason additions, with Scutaro following up Cody Ross in 2010 to earn NL 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.
San Francisco ended the season on a seven-game winning streak.

Reliever George Kontos summed it up the best he could in one Twitter post late Sunday:

“WORLD…..SERIES…..CHAMPS!!!! That’s all that needs to be said… This team is special…. We did what no other team could.”

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