ARLINGTON, Texas -- The San Francisco Giants, who had not won a World Series since moving West in 1958 and whose fans adopted the word "torture" as a team slogan, are baseball's new champions.
Ace Tim Lincecum pitched eight innings, allowing only three hits and one run while striking out 10, and until the seventh inning was matched by Rangers ace Cliff Lee out-for-out, as he had allowed only three hits and no walks through six. But Lee's shutout streak ended in the seventh when he allowed a three-run homer to shortstop Edgar Renteria.
Rangers rightfielder Nelson Cruz responded with a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Giants' lead to 3-1 in Monday's Game 5, but that's as close as Texas would get, as it lost by that score after closer Brian Wilson recorded the final three outs for the save.
The Giants won the series four games to one.
"It's a euphoric feeling that's so hard to describe," manager Bruce Bochy said. "For us to win for our fans, it's never been done there, and with all those great teams.
"And what was neat through all this is Willie McCovey and Willie Mays, Will Clark, J.T. Snow, Shawon Dunston, all those guys that played on World Series teams, they were in the clubhouse, they were pulling for these guys. They wanted them to win, and the players felt that along with the fans."
Bochy had dubbed this team "misfits and castoffs" for the patchwork way his lineup was constructed of players released (Pat Burrell), dumped in a waiver trade (Cody Ross, who later won the National League Championship Series MVP) or generally unwanted in free agency (Aubrey Huff). Even Renteria (World Series MVP) was thought to be an overpaid, underperforming signing.
"It's been a team effort," Lincecum said. "Everybody's been a hero on a different day. What a great [expletive] team."
Huff and second baseman Freddy Sanchez had been active for a combined 20 seasons without even reaching the playoffs before this year.
"That all goes away," Sanchez said. "We're in this game for one reason and that's to win a World Series."
San Francisco's rotation, on the other hand, was the team's hallmark, and the four pitchers who started games in the postseason were entirely homegrown, having been drafted by the Giants and developed in their farm system.
Lincecum is a former two-time Cy Young winner, who won four games in the playoffs. No. 2 starter Matt Cain didn't allow an earned run in 21 1/3 innings, the third-longest streak of any postseason in history. Jonathan Sanchez was brilliant down the stretch for the Giants and in their first-round series against the Braves, though he faltered in his last two starts. Rookie starter Madison Bumgarner pitched eight brilliant shutout innings to win Game 4. Each is signed for at least two more seasons.
"We have a pretty good scouting eye," San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean said earlier this week, "and through development our pitching has become the gold standard and the foundation of the organization."
There will be offseason questions of whether to keep certain impending free agents like Huff and infielder Juan Uribe and how to generate a more consistent offense, but a lot of the pieces are in place.
For Renteria, it was his second home run of the series and his second World Series-winning RBI; his single in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series scored the winning run for the Marlins.
"Both are the same feeling, same emotions," Renteria said. "It's unbelievable being in that situation, and I enjoyed both World Series."
The hyped matchup between aces Lee and Lincecum went asunder in Game 1 -- rather than the expected low-scoring affair, the Giants won 11-7 in a game with 18 runs, 25 hits, six errors and 12 pitchers used. On Monday, the rematch lived up to the hype. Neither team had a baserunner even reach second base through the first six innings.
It was in the seventh that San Francisco broke through. Ross and Uribe singled, and then Huff laid down a sacrifice bunt -- something he had never successfully done in his 11-year career. After Burrell struck out, Renteria homered, after having told teammate Andres Torres in the dugout he would do so.
"I got confidence in me, but I was joking like I'm going to get it out," Renteria said. "But it went out. But I got confident, looking for one pitch, and if he throws I'm going to hit it back to the middle. So he tried to throw the cutter, and the cutter stay in the middle and that's why it go out."
The Giants franchise had won five previous titles but none since 1954 when they still called New York home. The 2010 squad features a two-time Cy Young winner but no other true superstars, only productive players and a couple of young future stars, including rookies in catcher Buster Posey and Bumgarner.
They are on the verge of being able to make a several-year run deep into the playoffs, having realized this young talent sooner than most expected. Few saw them as legitimate playoff contenders until they won 15 out of 18 games in late July to jump from fourth place in their division to second. They didn't clinch a playoff berth until the very last day of the regular season.
Cain had the honor of carrying the championship trophy into the jubilant visitors' clubhouse. With champagne and beer splashing all around him, he shouted, "Pass that thing around!" The players each took a turn hoisting the trophy high above his head, much like the hockey victors' tradition of passing the Stanley Cup.