SAN FRANCISCO – The seats at Oracle Park were still filling up when the Giants’ 2012 championship team rolled out an orange carpet outside center field. A quick poll of Saturday night’s fans giving the champs a standing ovation says it all about what this team meant to Giants fans.
Ten years after that team swept the heavily favored Detroit Tigers in the World Series, most of the names on the back of fans’ jerseys were on this list from 2012. Names that define an era of Giants baseball that brought three titles in San Francisco.
Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford.
For a variety of reasons, most of those franchise faces weren’t at Oracle Park to celebrate the Giants’ 10th anniversary of that 2012 title run, among two more people on an impressive streak for that franchise. Posey and Lincecum between them.
But 24 players from that squad (Cain, Angel Pagan, Pence, Marco Scutaro, Javier Lopez, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong among them) gathered on the field to remember what made that run so special.
“They were such a resilient team with a never-say-die attitude,” then-Giants manager Bruce Bochy said over the loudspeakers.
Resilience had become a mantra since the Giants’ stunning 2010 championship run, something that continued to define their success over the next decade. No postseason trip was more tortuous than in 2012, when they had to win six elimination games against the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS and the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS before beating the Tigers in a clean sweep.
Then-GM Brian Sabean dubbed them cockroaches, but their never-give-up drive fueled their World Series victory.
Giants announcer Dave Flemming, the event’s MC, went over some of those tense moments with the players who lived through them.
Scutaro, introduced to faint chants from the fans, recalled the aggressive slide Matt Holliday made at second base in Game 2 of the NLCS that bent the out-of-shape second baseman’s back. Scutaro remembered feeling pain like never before.
Fans remember how he bounced back, hitting .500 with three doubles and four RBIs to claim the NLCS MVP trophy. Scutaro made sure to thank athletic trainer Dave Groeschner for getting him back for the rest of the series.
They remember when Scutaro looked up at the sky, raining in San Francisco, after that final out.
“I really think it was a sign from up there,” Scutaro said. “I spent four years in Oakland, I had never seen rain like this. I thought we were one away from the World Series. Suddenly it starts to pour. I really think it was a sign from up there.”
Then they brought back Barry Zito, a Cy Young winner and legend with the A’s who were chasing their championship across the bay. Facing elimination in Game 5, Zito was heroic. Tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts in his momentum-changing win.
But the highlight of the game came when Zito helped his own effort with a perfectly placed RBI single down the third base line.
With the first pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates minutes away, the Giants couldn’t get past all the highlights.
Posey’s grand slam against Matt Latos in Cincinnati. Pence’s RBI double in Game 7 of the NLCS that came off his bat three times, putting enough spin on the ball to evade the shortstop’s glove and add much-needed insurance to the win. Playing with their backs against the wall like this, the Giants felt unstoppable against a Tigers team that had it all.
“We had so much momentum,” Pence said. “We were asleep to everything, how good they were.”
Pablo Sandoval shocked the world in the first game of the World Series when he hit three home runs, two off ace Justin Verlander. It started an impressive streak that was capped when slugging pitcher Sergio Romo, filling in for the injured Brian Wilson, caught Miguel Cabrera glancing at a fastball right down the pipe to seal the World Series sweep.
After that walk down memory lane, the Giants gathered for a team photo with the 2012 trophy. Also of note, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, who played in their first postseason games in 2012, were ready for Saturday night’s game. Further proof that the remnants of that 2012 run still run deep in San Francisco.
Your 2012 World Series Champions 🏆 pic.twitter.com/vJSvHHnxZC
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 14, 2022