Every time a team wins the World Series, people like to flip through their storybook and find the most important playoff moments.
Usually, one or two players get hot and carry a team through the postseason. But not on the Giants. Every single player made an impact, something that has become a theme with this magical team. And, as a result, there were multiple great playoff moments.
It was hard to narrow them down to 21 (don’t ask), and it was hard to order them. I tried to rank them based on what was the most important and what made me, as a Giants fan, the happiest, taking close games, the magnitude of the game and much more into account.
So, with that said, I present the 10 best playoff moments from San Francisco’s magical 2012 run.
10. Cardinals Defense Gets Confused, Costs St Louis a Pennant
Lance Lynn looked unhittable in the first three innings of NLCS Game 5, but in the fourth, he collapsed.
Scutaro and Sandoval singled to lead off the fourth, which were the first two balls hit into the outfield. Posey struck out, and Pence hit a double play ball. So, it looked like Lynn would give the Cardinals some more momentum and get out of a jam.
But shortstop Pete Kozma thought second baseman Daniel Descalso would cover the base, so he got a late break to second when he realized otherwise. Lynn hurried the throw, and it was low and bounced off the base. Scutaro scored when the ball went into the outfield, giving the Giants a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Brandon Crawford and Barry Zito singled (Zito’s was a bunt hit) to drive in a total of three more runs, capping off the inning and sending the NLCS back to San Francisco.
9. Theriot Comes Through Again, Picks Up Crucial Hit
When Marco Scutaro was traded to San Francisco, Ryan Theriot, a man who finished the season with a respectable .270 batting average, was sent to the bench.
But he saw some playing time in the regular season and in the playoffs, starting occasionally (until Pablo Sandoval returned from an injury) and pinch-hitting often. Eventually, he got to start a World Series game, replacing Hector Sanchez, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts the previous night, at designated hitter.
Theriot hit a ball well in the second, but Andy Dirks made a nice catch to prevent a run. Theriot didn’t get a hit in the first nine innings, and Phil Coke, who had struck out all seven batters he faced in the World Series, got two strikes on Theriot.
The hard-throwing southpaw attempted to blow an outside fastball by Theriot, but he couldn’t. Theriot hit a flare into right field, where no one had any chance to catch it. And, we all know what happened next.
8. Rolen Extends NLDS, Giants Title Hopes with Error
Scott Rolen is known for being a great defensive third baseman. So, it was a bit of a shock when he cost the Reds their best chance to win the NLDS.
With two on and two out, Joaquin Arias stepped to the plate. Inconsistent pitcher Jonathan Broxton threw a bad pitch, and Ryan Hanigan couldn’t catch it, allowing Buster Posey and Hunter Pence to move to second and third.
Arias hit a chopper to third base, which looked like a routine play for Rolen. However, the ball took a tough hop, and Rolen bobbled it. He recovered and got off a good throw, but the speedy Arias hustled to first.
The utility shortstop beat the throw, and Sergio Romo slammed the door in the bottom of the inning. San Francisco’s comeback had started, and they weren’t about to stop.
7. Romo Finishes off Rolen, Does a Little Dance
Rolen had a chance to make up for his error, and it was certainly possible, given that Great American Park is so small. But, against Romo, that chance was low.
Romo got two strikes before Rolen fouled a pitch off. Posey called for a slider from Romo on the outside corner, where righties have almost no chance. But, when Romo misses with his location, he is hittable.
And Romo did miss, throwing the ball up and in. But the ball had good movement, and Rolen blew his final chance. He swung and missed. Romo danced. The Giants celebrated, and they knew that they had to win only eight games to capture another championship.
Which they did. All thanks to Romo finishing off the Reds in Game 5 of the NLDS.
6. Holliday Takes out Scutaro, Then Scutaro Takes out Holliday
Okay, so maybe Marco Scutaro didn’t take out Matt Holliday. But he did get Holliday out to end the NLCS.
Holliday attempted to take out Scutaro (well, we Giants fans think he did) when he slid into second base in Game 2, as his slide seemed a bit harder than a normal slide to try and break up a double play. Scutaro wasn’t hurt badly, and Holliday actually missed Game 6 due to injury.
So, when Javier Lopez walked Carlos Beltran and Romo, who had looked dominant in pitching three perfect innings in the series, came in to face Holliday, Giants fans immediately realized what was happening.
They wanted a strikeout, and when they got two strikes on him, that appeared very likely. But Holliday was jammed on an inside pitch, and he popped it up to Scutaro. In the heavy rain, Scutaro caught the ball, ending the series.
5. Posey Breaks Slump, Fights Wind to Go Deep in Detroit
Buster Posey was not having success in the playoffs, and he looked lost while facing Max Scherzer in two previous at-bats. But, he didn’t look lost with a runner on in the sixth.
Scherzer threw a change-up down the middle, and Posey saw it. He hit it down the left field line, into the heavy wind. The wind fought the ball, and the ball won. It went a few rows deep, giving the Giants a 3-2 lead.
It felt like the Giants couldn’t lose then. The MVP who had come through so many times in the regular season and at crucial times in the postseason had come through again, redeeming himself by crushing the ball. Since Detroit had cold bats, it felt like that home run would win the World Series.
Did it? No. Did it make Giants fans happy and play a part in San Francisco winning Game 4? Definitely.
In the first game at AT&T Park, three home runs were hit by one player (Kevin Elster). 12 years later, the first Giant hit three home runs at AT&T Park; in the World Series, off of Justin Verlander.
Verlander threw a high, 0-2 fastball that Sandoval got a great swing on. He hit it into right-center field, the deepest part of the park, for a home run. He hit an outside fastball the other way for a two-run shot in the third, and golfed a pitch from Al Alburquerque into center for a home run in the fifth.
Sandoval gave the Giants momentum, and he was the reason why the Giants won Game 1. 4 of his 24 playoff hits (which set a franchise record for hits in a single postseason) came in Game 1, with three of them being bombs.
When Sandoval gets hot, he can dominate and hit any pitch into the seats. And, unfortunately for the Tigers, he got red-hot in the World Series.
3. Posey Adds Another Chapter to MVP Season, Crushes Grand Slam
Even though Brandon Crawford and Angel Pagan had brought home runs earlier in the inning, Reds fans were on their feet when Mat Latos got two strikes on Posey.
The star pitcher, who has publicly expressed his hatred for San Francisco and the Giants, had to get Posey out to work his way out of a bases-loaded jam. So, he attempted to jam Posey with an inside fastball.
Instead, he missed over the plate. Posey crushed the ball, and it hit just over Latos’ name on the scoreboard, and just under the upper deck. Posey trotted around the bases, thinking he sealed the win with his titanic bomb.
San Francisco felt like they didn’t need it at the time. But we all know they wouldn’t have won a postseason series without his shot.
2. Scutaro Caps off Historic Run with Giants with Historic Hit
Marco Scutaro didn’t do all that well in the NLDS, but he was the NLCS MVP. However, he had gone cold in the World Series, and he was facing Phil Coke in the tenth inning.
Theriot was on second base, and Scutaro had worked the count to 3-1. Coke threw a high, outside fastball, and Scutaro was on the ball. He lined it into center field, and Giants fans were praying that it would fall in front of the charging Austin Jackson.
It did, and Theriot charged home. He scored the winning run, and Scutaro had touched Giants fans once again. He didn’t get a great pitch to hit, but he took what Coke gave him and came up with the biggest hit of the postseason.
His hit was probably the biggest play of the postseason, too. But there was still one moment that was better.
Miguel Cabrera does not get confused much, especially when he steps to the plate in a crucial situation. But Romo confused the Triple Crown winner.
Romo got Austin Jackson and Don Kelly to chase some nasty sliders down and out of the strike zone, and he got Cabrera to do the same on a 1-1 pitch. With two strikes, Romo threw two pitches out of the strike zone, one that was fouled off and one that was taken for a ball.
Posey wanted Romo to try and get Cabrera to chase. Romo shook him off, and daringly threw his two-seam fastball down the middle. It only went 89 miles per hour, but it confused Cabrera completely.
The ball went over the heart of the plate. Posey caught it and didn’t wait for strike three to be called. He ran to Romo and jumped into his arms, and everyone else followed Posey. A celebration took place in Detroit and in the Bay Area, as Giants celebrated.
The likable Romo, only 70 inches and 185 pounds, celebrated. He posted an ERA of 0.84 during the postseason, and the team celebrated with him. People thought he wasn’t a big-game pitcher, and he silenced those critics. And it couldn’t have come in a better way.