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A hero in Scutaro: Giants find gem in July trade

Veteran fittingly caps remarkable San Francisco run with World Series game-winner

DETROIT -- When Giants general manager Brian Sabean acquired Marco Scutaro in that late-July trade that mostly went unnoticed, he could've never imagined him being this productive -- by tying for the Major League lead in hits the rest of the season, or being MVP of the National League Championship Series, or driving in the run that would win his team a second title in three years.

But he did know one thing.

"I knew he was a heck of a baseball player," Sabean said late Sunday night at Comerica Park, after a 4-3 win in 10 innings that gave the Giants a World Series sweep over the star-laden Tigers. "Most general managers would be heartened to be able to acquire a player like that, because he's just such a complete player, in every aspect. He's the kind of guy you want to reward."

But it's Sabean's Giants who have been reaping all the benefits since July 27, when he acquired Scutaro's expiring contract and $1 million from the Rockies in exchange for infielder Charlie Culberson.

Those gifts didn't stop until Game 4 of the World Series, when Scutaro dumped a two-out RBI single to shallow center field in the top of the 10th, driving in Ryan Theriot from second and putting the Giants three outs away from their shocking championship triumph.

"This," Scutaro said amid champagne, "is a dream come true.

"If anybody would've told me in late June that I was going to be in the World Series, or I was going to be a world champ, I would've slapped you in the face. God had a plan for me, and this was it."

If the Giants could pick anyone to come up in a crucial spot, perhaps it's Scutaro, who hit .400 with runners in scoring position in his two-month stint in San Francisco and came into Sunday's game 5-for-7 in that situation in these playoffs.

His base hit off Phil Coke, on a 3-1 fastball that stayed up, was the first run the lefty reliever had allowed since Sept. 28.

"I was just hoping that he hadn't burned all his big hits throughout the year for us already, and he didn't," said Giants ace Matt Cain, who gave up three runs in seven innings in the finale. "He had another one up there for us."

"You know he's probably going to put the ball in play and get the good part of the wood on it, and that's what he did there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy added. "But the job that he's done for us really was remarkable. I mean, on a consistent basis. I didn't realize how good he was until I saw him on a daily basis."

Scutaro came into Sunday 0-for-his-last-8, then got back on track with a leadoff single in the sixth -- allowing him to score on Buster Posey's two-run homer -- and a leadoff walk in the eighth.

But he knew adjustments were in order against Coke.

"I was just trying to stay calm, man," Scutaro said. "I was jumpy the whole game, and anxious, and I just told myself, 'Slow down, see the ball, and just try to make good contact.' Thankfully I came through."

On a Giants team that gets contributions from several unlikely sources, Scutaro -- the man lovingly nicknamed "The Blockbuster" by his new teammates -- is perhaps the perfect snapshot.

After arriving from Colorado, he hit .362 the rest of the regular season, tying Derek Jeter with a Major League-leading 88 hits while striking out only 14 times, then went 14-for-28 in the Giants' seven-game triumph over the Cardinals in the NLCS.

But offense isn't all Scutaro brought.

It was his defense.

It was his leadership.

It was his presence.

"Everything," outfielder Gregor Blanco said in Spanish. "He's a veteran in this league, and there are a lot of young players here. He talked to everyone, he told them how to be, how to work, to get here early. On the field he was a leader, in important situations he always got the big hit. Today, he showed that. I think he's one of the most complete players that we have."

But he'll also be a free agent at season's end, and given the impact he had down the stretch, he'll be a highly-sought-after one.

The Giants will do everything they can to bring him back.

"We'll try," Sabean said. "We'll address it at the end of the year. He's a player we'd like to bring back."

But it'll probably be a little more difficult this time around.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.
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