Saturday, November 13, 2010

SF Giants on top of the world with 1st Series win

SF Giants on top of the world with 1st Series win
Henry Schulman, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Arlington, Texas -- There stood pitcher Matt Cain, at 26 the longest-tenured player on the 2010 Giants, raising the circle-of-flags trophy above his head on the field so hundreds of San Francisco fans who refused to leave the Rangers' ballpark could see it.

"Wow, this is sick," Cain said. "We're the World Series champions of 2010."

How long the faithful have waited to hear those words - not years, but generations. The Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958 and had not touched that trophy until Monday night, when they beat the Texas Rangers 3-1.

The Giants needed only five games to win the franchise's sixth World Series, its first since 1954. They dominated Texas in ways they could not have imagined during a 162-game regular season and two rounds of playoffs that lived up to the team's unofficial motto of "Giants baseball: Torture."

The unlikely Most Valuable Player for an unlikely World Series winner was Edgar Renteria, an injury-plagued shortstop from Colombia who might retire after the season and whose two-year, $18.5 million contract was ridiculed because the Giants gave it to a player thought to be washed up.

Renteria already belonged in the pantheon of World Series heroes. In 1997, then 22 and a big-leaguer for less than two seasons, he won Game 7 for Florida with an 11th-inning single. On Monday, Renteria secured a seat at the head table when he supplied all of the Giants' runs with a three-run homer in the seventh inning that broke a 0-0 tie.

Renteria called his shot against Cliff Lee, twice telling center fielder Andres Torres before the game he was going to go deep.

"He told Andres he was going to hit one and he did it," outfielder Aaron Rowand said. "He Babe Ruth-ed it, I guess."

Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner, allowed three hits and struck out 10 in eight innings in the most important win of his 26-year-old life.

On a team with so much youth, it was fitting that Buster Posey, a 23-year-old rookie catcher, did the keenest job summarizing what this championship means to an organization and a city that was starved for it.

"It's crazy to think with all the great baseball players who have come through San Francisco, there hasn't been a World Series championship," Posey said.

"The beautiful thing about the organization is, you've got guys like Will Clark here. You've got J.T. Snow here. You've got Shawon Dunston here. When we get back to San Francisco, we'll have Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry. The list goes on and on. It's so humbling to have won the first World Series in San Francisco. It's unbelievable."

How fitting that the Series ended with closer Brian Wilson blowing a strike-three fastball past Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, setting off a celebration sure to rock the Bay Area for a long time. After all, everyone had generations to plan it.

52 title-free years

With the first toast, revelers could bid good riddance to the ghosts of failures past.

McCovey's line drive to Bobby Richardson in 1962, the earthquake sweep in 1989 and the Game 6 collapse in 2002 - their power to spook the faithful is gone, defused by a championship year led by four homegrown pitchers, including Lincecum, who came up huge in the clinching game.

Former managing general partner Peter Magowan, a Giants fan since 1951 who could not guide the franchise to a title during 16 years at the helm, said this title makes up for everything.

"It does. It erases it," Magowan said. "I don't think a day goes by that I don't think about the '02 World Series. I still think a lot about '62, to say nothing about all the other near-misses. This does knock it all away."

Nailing it down

With two outs in the seventh inning of a 0-0 game, and Cody Ross and Juan Uribe on base after singling, Renteria knocked a 2-0 cut fastball from Cliff Lee over the wall in left-center field for a three-run homer that helped secure the trophy.

First baseman Aubrey Huff, who broke into tears as the World Series win truly dawned on him, said he was happier for Renteria than anyone.

Renteria was derided by fans for not living up to his contract. In 2010, he spent four tours on the disabled list with four different injuries. He was injured in late September when the Giants, who were not hitting, held a pregame meeting inside the batting cage at Wrigley Field.

In one of the season's most emotional moments, according to those who attended, Renteria rose to speak. He was in tears.

"I had a feeling this was going to be my last year," Renteria recounted Monday. "I told my teammates, 'Let's go. Let's play hard. I know we can do it. I believe in you guys. If you guys have a chance to put us in the playoffs, I'll help you once we get there.'

"The Giants organization gave me a two-year contract and I was not able to help them. But they always had my back. I just wanted to do something big for them."

The Giants still had to get nine outs after Renteria's homer. Lincecum got six. Though he allowed a seventh-inning homer by Cruz, he also struck out three hitters in the inning and one more in the eighth.

Lincecum was lights-out

Lincecum was not sharp during the Giants' Game 1 win. In Game 5 he was lights-out and became the 15th pitcher in history to win four games in one postseason.

Posey said he knew it would be OK before the game when he saw Lincecum's demeanor.

"It's called being a gamer," Posey said. "Walk into the clubhouse today and the guy's as loose as he can be, joking around, same old Timmy. He had no idea he had an opportunity to go out and win Game 5 of the World Series and win us a championship."

Afterward, it still had not sunk in.

"It'll take over later on tonight," Lincecum said, "when we get to be by ourselves and really think about everything."

E-mail Henry Schulman at

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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