DETROIT Matt Cain stood in a hallway outside the Giants' champagne-soaked clubhouse just after midnight Monday morning, a pair of goggles on his head. They were a gift from his mother, he said, and contained a small camera so the Giants right-hander could effortlessly document the melee going on around him and the revelry still to come.
Less simple for Cain was explaining the events that had just occurred, the Giants roaring back from the brink of elimination twice to rip off seven wins in a row and sweep the World Series from the widely favored Detroit Tigers, who themselves had taken a broom to the esteemed if aging New York Yankees.
"A lot of it is kind of unexplainable," said Cain, who, in the season in which he turned 28, pitched a perfect game, started in the All-Star Game and threw seven innings in the clinching game of his second World Series. "Guys just found ways to dig deep and get things done. And here we are at the end, able to hoist this trophy."
At first, the team that refused to die, that hadn't won seven games in a row all season, blew away the Cardinals in the final three games of the National League Championship Series and then throttled the American League champions. The Giants outscored the Cardinals and Tigers 36-7 over those seven games, the basis a familiar one of lights-out pitching and solid defense.
It started with Barry Zito in Game 5 of the NLCS, manager Bruce Bochy putting his faith in the resurgent left-hander to stave off elimination even after Zito's abrupt exit in the division series. Zito delivered the start of his Giants career, with several players crediting his 7 2/3 scoreless innings with setting a tone for the rest of their title run.
That brought the series back to San Francisco, where Ryan Vogelsong and Cain added to a string of six games in which Giants starters allowed no more than one run. Overall, the Giants' staff combined for an 0.98 ERA over its final seven games with an opponents' combined batting average of .173.
"That's our celebrity of the team," general manager Brian Sabean said. "It's been that way going back to even before 2010, and they stepped up at the right time. You can't say enough about the bullpen, Boch and the coaching staff to put these guys in the right position."
Right, the bullpen. With Bochy deftly pulling the strings, Giants relief pitchers were stifling for 18 1/3 innings during the streak. Factor out George Kontos' one-third of an inning late in Game 1 of the World Series, in which he gave up two runs in garbage time, and this was their collective line: seven games, 18 innings, four hits allowed, no runs, 25 strikeouts.
Tim Lincecum handled his relegation to the bullpen with grace to become the weapon the Giants envisioned, striking out eight in 4 2/3 World Series innings. Sergio Romo, in the role commanded by Brian Wilson in 2010, saved the final three games without allowing a hit, his final pitch an 89-mph fastball that paralyzed Miguel Cabrera.
"You have to look at our pitching, the job they did, because Game 2, Game 3, (the Tigers) shut us down," Bochy said. "We scored two runs (in each game). But to beat this club and only score two runs, that's pretty amazing. So it starts with that.
"Our defense really saved us every game the double plays, the plays that (Gregor) Blanco made, (Brandon) Crawford made, really anybody."
Tigers sluggers Cabrera and Prince Fielder combined to go 4 for 27 with one home run in the Series but were victims of highway robbery several times.
Blanco took away hits from each in Game 1 with diving catches in left field. Crawford was masterful at shortstop, while second baseman Marco Scutaro and center fielder Angel Pagan also turned in highlight-reel plays.
"It seems like we kind of stop rallies from starting," Crawford said before Game 4.
The matchup of Zito and Tigers ace Justin Verlander in Game 1, supposedly advantage Tigers, morphed into Pablo Sandoval's historic three-homer night.
Otherwise, the Giants did just enough with their offensive opportunities against Detroit.
Blanco's perfect bunt in Game 2, Crawford's bloop RBI single in Game 3, Buster Posey's two-run homer and Brandon Belt's only hit of the series an RBI triple in Game 4 all proved crucial to the sweep and decisive winning streak that admittedly surprised Sabean.
"Sure, given the two teams that we won the seven games against," Sabean said. "St. Louis was an unbelievable offensive club, and this (Tigers) club's so dangerous, including at this ballpark. We really, as it turned out, got lucky we were able to throw two lefties at them, steal the first two games, and then come here and take care of business."
In command of a series for a change, the Giants, who fought off elimination six times against the Reds and Cardinals, didn't let themselves get comfortable.
"We were just so on edge the whole time," Zito said. "We didn't even know what it felt like to be up two games to none."
Or three games to none, as when they gathered before Game 4 on Sunday, the prize never closer, to listen to one more speech from their Great Orator, right fielder Hunter Pence.
"We just needed to stay focused," Pence recalled saying. "That was it. The last win was going to be the hardest. And it turned out that way."