SAN FRANCISCO In a cinematic downpour of rain and pulsating emotion, the Giants punched their ticket to the World Series on Monday night by thrashing the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 to win the championship of the National League.
"This rain never felt so good!" screamed Marco Scutaro, the Giants second baseman who was named Most Valuable Player of the series the capper of an unlikely Giants victory that seemed remote only days ago.
The Giants had trailed the Cardinals three games to one in the best-of-seven series and were one loss from elimination before winning three straight do-or-die games.
It was fitting that Scutaro recorded the final out by catching a pop-up hit by the Cardinals' hulking left fielder, Matt Holliday, who had plowed into the diminutive Scutaro in Game 2 of this series. It was the most controversial moment of the NLCS and there had been fears that Scutaro had injured his hip badly enough in a collision at second base with Holliday to be disabled for the rest of the season.
Instead, Scutaro got up off the deck to hit .500 for the series an amazing 14 hits in 28 at-bats while making several highlight-reel plays at second base.
Scutaro, who is Italian-Venezuelan, embodies the Giants in many ways: He's not a superstar. He just plays like one in the biggest games.
Like Scutaro, the Giants seemed to hit the deck more than once in October, only to get up and prevail.
"This is a special group," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy of a team that is playing in the Fall Classic because it refused to quit.
"These guys just don't want to go home," Bochy said.
Now the Giants face their biggest challenge of all the powerful Detroit Tigers, champions of the American League.
On Wednesday, the Giants will host the Tigers in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series at AT&T Park.
The Giants will likely be the underdogs, but that role has suited them well. They've ridden it to this historic moment.
It was the first time in a century that the Giants franchise won a do-or-die Game 7 series climax.
With the victory, the Giants organization captured its 22nd National League pennant on Monday night more than any other team in NL history.
Returning to the World Series for the second time in three seasons marks an unprecedented level of success for the Giants in their 54 years in San Francisco.
How long has it been since the Giants played in two Fall Classics in such a short period of time?
Try 75 years not since the franchise was based in New York and lost the World Series to the New York Yankees in 1936 and 1937.
Willie Mays, considered the greatest Giant of them all, played in two World Series in four seasons in 1951 and 1954 but even he has to shake his head in wonder at this.
These Giants, in the most unlikely ways, have changed the image of an ancient franchise dating back to 1883 one of baseball's oldest. After great success from the early 20th century to the end of the Great Depression, the Giants were soon overshadowed in New York by the Yankees and their bitter rivals, the Dodgers.
That second-class status continued when the Dodgers and Giants moved west in 1958.
The Dodgers built the gleaming Dodger Stadium; the Giants erected the dump known as Candlestick Park.
From 1958 to 1988, the Dodgers won five World Series. The Giants won none.
San Francisco teams were known for having iconic players: Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry. All are now in the Hall of Fame.
But individuals don't win the World Series. Teams win the World Series, and Giants teams always fell short in one way or another.
It wasn't until 1993, when Safeway magnate Peter Magowan purchased the team, that things began to change.
The organization built AT&T Park in 2000, largely with private financing, and has provided stability and innovation ever since.
"I think to win a championship it takes more than 25 guys. It takes the front office all the way to batboy, and you have to have that chemistry going," Scutaro said.
That chemistry of homegrown stars, such as Matt Cain Monday's winning pitcher and veterans like Scutaro has created a formidable postseason team.
And they've done it with two straight seasons of sold-out games. That love between franchise and fans finally found a release Monday. Two years ago, when the Giants won the World Series, the team won all its clinching games on the road. But on Monday, it was a communal celebration an orange and black outpouring of love.
When the champagne baths were done and seagulls trolled for scraps in the outfield, you could hear the sounds of horns honking and joyous emotion for miles around.
It was the sound of winning.