SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants were done in August.
Melky Cabrera got caught cheating. The Dodgers were going to run right past them.
The Giants were done two games into the postseason.
Two home games, and they lost both of them to the Reds. No way they were coming back.
The Giants were done last week.
Down three games to one to the Cardinals, they were stuck with nobody but Barry Zito to pitch Game 5. And besides, the Cardinals were the team with all the October magic, the team you absolutely couldn't put away, even if you had them down to their final strike.
The Giants were done.
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So how in the world is it that they're going to the World Series? How in the world is it that when the World Series opens Wednesday night, it will be Tigers vs. Giants, and not Tigers vs. somebody -- anybody -- else?
Better question: Why in the world did we ever count out the Giants, who are now headed to their second World Series appearance in the last three years?
Whatever they had to prove to us, they did it over the last four days. They did it with a Game 5 win last Friday in St. Louis, and they did it again in Game 6 Sunday and finally in a 9-0 Game 7 win on Monday.
Three wins, each one a little more emphatic than the one before.
Four days ago, when the Tigers swept aside the Yankees, the baseball world was preparing for a 2006 World Series rematch, Tigers vs. Cardinals. Instead, we get a matchup we've never seen before, between two teams who spent the summer (and in the Giants' case, part of October) suggesting to us that they wouldn't get here.
At least the Tigers took a fairly normal road through the postseason. The Giants' road looked a little bit like the third-inning Hunter Pence double that was the big hit in Game 7.
Pence was facing reliever Joe Kelly with the bases loaded and nobody out, and with the Giants already leading the game 2-0. Kelly broke his bat, but somehow bat met ball three times -- once when it broke, and twice thereafter.
The result was a knuckleball -- or maybe it was a slider -- headed out towards shortstop. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma broke right, because that's where the ball was going.
Then, in mid-air, the ball seemed to take a sharp right turn, sending it past the helpless Kozma. It was 5-0 Giants, and by the end of the inning it would be 7-0 Giants.
Even for the Cardinals, who rallied from a 6-0 deficit in Washington in their last winner-take-all game, it was too much to overcome.
For six more innings, the San Francisco fans partied on. They waved their orange "rally rags." They taunted Matt Holliday, the NLCS villain for his Game 1 slide into Marco Scutaro. And they cheered in the sixth inning, when Giants starter Matt Cain drilled Holliday with a pitch.
By then, the game and the series had been decided. The National League season had been decided.
The Cardinals were done, the 12th straight World Series champion to fall short of a repeat.
The Giants weren't done. They aren't done.
They're going to the World Series.