No one will ever confuse Sergio Romo for Mariano Rivera, but they have at least one thing in common. Each of the two closers mostly just feature one pitch: in Rivera's case the cut fastball and in Romo's it's the slider.
When Romo finally threw a 2-2 fastball right down the middle to Triple Crown-winner Miguel Cabrera for a called third strike, it was a microcosm for the World Series as a whole, with the Giants taking the Tigers utterly by surprise in a sweep.
In that final at-bat, Cabrera took the two best pitches he was going to see. Romo led off with a slider on the outside corner, not a bad pitch, but a hittable one, and Cabrera should have seen it coming. After flailing wildly at another slider well off the plate, but eventually working the count even, Romo challenged the game's best hitter with everything on the line — and all Cabrera could do was stand there, shocked.
Ditto for the Tigers as a unit.
The Giants rode their wave of momentum into the World Series, while the Tigers looked just plain flat-footed, especially in what should have been a Game 1 mismatch. In that contest, the Giants jumped all over the best pitcher in the game, ending Justin Verlander's night early after four innings, while Barry Zito redeemed himself and made San Francisco forget about that $126 million contract, keeping the Tigers' hitters off balance all night.
And that just set the tone for the rest of the series.
It's easy to argue that with a five-day layoff between sweeping the Yankees in the ALCS and the beginning of the Fall Classic, Detroit never had a chance. The Giants had the opportunity to keep right on rolling after their near-miraculous comeback over the Cardinals in the NLCS, while the Tigers had a work week to throw their timing off.
But that's why San Francisco was the superior ballclub this October, and Detroit skipper Jim Leyland was forced to hold back tears at the end of Game 4. Despite the Tigers' impressive dismantling of the Yankees, they were a team that was built with the three-run home run in mind, not manufacturing runs with outs and "doing the little things." Conversely, the Giants were the kind of team that was predicated on character and being able to execute when necessary, which is why they were able to reel off seven wins in a row to end the season.
By the time Detroit's bats showed some signs of life in Game 4, the series was all but over, and all it took was a timely knock by NL MVP candidate Buster Posey to put an official end to their world championship aspirations.
But hey, if you like storylines, the good guys won, while the bad guys go home. San Francisco always had the more likable team, with guys like Brian Wilson (even if he didn't actually play), Barry Zito's redemption, Hunter Pence's nervous energy and Posey's return from injury all being easy storylines to root for. Add to that the fact the team declined to have since-disgraced All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera join them in their postseason run.
The Tigers, meanwhile, feature a guy (Verlander) who recently left his girlfriend of 11 years for supermodel Kate Upton, another (ALCS MVP Delmon Young) who was suspended for a week back in April mostly for abusing a panhandler with antisemitic slurs and the ever-sulking Cabrera, who refuses to hold himself accountable to the press seemingly every time he has a bad day — including after Game 3.
Leyland be damned, the Giants were always the easier group to get behind.
But in the end, it was all about execution. The Tigers finally paid the price for insisting that Cabrera play the field, as Marco Scutaro's slow-roller base hit immediately preceded Posey's sixth-inning home run — a run which possibly ended up as the difference in the game. The Tigers may have finally gotten their home-run swing back on Sunday night, but the home runs were still all the scoring they could muster.
And it wasn't enough.