Sarah's Take: Giants overcome adversity to advance

Sarah's Take: Giants overcome adversity to advance

Sarah's Take: Giants overcome adversity to advance
The phrase "Never Give Up" describes the 2012 National League champion San Francisco Giants. Rarely during the regular season did the Giants capture the national media headlines unless they faced adversity, but the determined team knew what it needed to do to get back to the Fall Classic.

At the non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Brian Sabean made a few trades that went under the national radar. While the Los Angeles Dodgers spent wildly and captured attention, Sabean studied his team's needs and found players that would fill those needs without changing the team's chemistry. This brilliant analysis by Sabean enabled the Giants to go to the postseason and succeed.

Obtaining Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies at the Deadline made the difference for the Giants from being an ordinary team to a team that has won six consecutive games where they faced elimination. Scutaro ended the regular season with a 20-game hit streak, and he has hit in every game of the playoffs.

Scutaro hit .500 during the NL Championship Series, coming up with crucial hits whenever his team needed them to score. He played defense flawlessly, and made several remarkable plays that prevented the St. Louis Cardinals from either having a huge rally or scoring a decisive run.

When Matt Holliday slid late and collided with Scutaro in the first inning of Game 2, possibly injuring the second baseman seriously, the play seemed to energize the Giants. There was a rallying call to get Scutaro to the World Series for the first time in his 11-year Major League career. No one was surprised when Scutaro was named Most Valuable Player of the NLCS.

The difference in the series was mainly the superior defense of the Giants. While the Giants committed four errors, the Cardinals made six errors, and this doesn't count when they didn't make the routine play. Every time San Francisco bunted or had an unusual infield play, St. Louis seemed overwhelmed and didn't know what to do with the ball.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had to play a rookie shortstop because regular shortstop Rafael Furcal injured his elbow on the last day of August, and this weakened the defense for St. Louis. The Cardinals seemed to lack confidence in their fielding, as they rushed most difficult plays. The Giants, like most good teams, took advantage of the Cardinals' poor fielding to score and lengthen rallies.

Many baseball people judge the strength of a team's defense on its catcher, second baseman, shortstop, and center fielder. In the NLCS, the Giants outshone the Cardinals with these players.

Although most baseball people consider Yadier Molina the best defensive catcher in the game, he couldn't coax his pitching staff to have good outings when his team needed them and he failed to direct his infield to throw to the right base, which is a catcher's responsibility.

Buster Posey, who didn't have a good offensive series, knew how to get the best out of his pitching staff when the Giants had to win to advance to the World Series. In his third year in the Majors, Posey took charge on difficult fielding plays and told veterans where to throw.

While everyone who watched the NLCS knows the name of the Giants' second baseman, the Cardinals' second baseman, Daniel Descalso, didn't do anything to distinguish himself. At least once, he failed to cover the base on a crucial play.

Both the Cardinals and the Giants have young shortstops. Brandon Crawford had played for the Giants since the beginning of the season, while Pete Kozma has played only 42 regular season games over two years.

When the 2012 season began, Crawford was jittery on defense and didn't hit well. Nevertheless, Giants manager Bruce Bochy stayed with the young shortstop. Crawford rewarded his manager's patience when his play improved after the All-Star break. In Game 7, Crawford had a perfectly timed leaping catch that prevented the Cardinals from scoring and seemed to deflate their enthusiasm.

Kozma, who performed well during the NL Division Series, had a bad case of the jitters during the NLCS. He hit only .227, made two physical errors and made countless mental errors. Many times a player hit a ground ball to him with runners on base, Kozma seemed to rush the play.

Giants outfielder Angel Pagan, an upcoming free agent, proved his defense in center is one of the best in the game when he made at least four splendid plays that killed rallies. When he began Game 2 with a solo home run against Chris Carpenter, it seemed to erode the Cardinals' belief in their ability to win the series. Jon Jay never did anything to distinguish himself, except bobbling a hit that allowed the Giants to score an extra run in the third inning of Game 7.

The Giants never panicked with their collective backs against the wall, and they played fundamentally sound baseball. When Sabean said during the postgame celebration, "Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager," he hit the nail on the head.

For the first time in franchise history, the Giants clinched something in Game 7. To quote Russ Hodges, "THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!"

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.