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How sweep it is: Giants finish off Tigers

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How sweep it is: Giants finish off Tigers

DETROIT (AP) Kung Fu Panda, The Freak, The Beard and all their seed-throwing buddies are on top of baseball - again.

They may be under the radar, unappreciated and unexpected. But they're unassailable, the winner of two World Series titles in the last three years.

Their sweep of the Detroit Tigers, completed Sunday night with a 4-3, 10-inning win, was simply historic.

No National League team had swept a World Series since the 1990 Cincinnati Reds.

No NL team had won twice in a three-year span since the Big Red Machine in 1975-76.

``I'm numb, really, the fact that we've won two World Series in the last three years,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``This will sink in, but right now, I'm kind of speechless on that.''

This happens in the NL only slightly more often than appearances of Haley's Comet. They are just the fifth NL team to accomplish the feat since the 1907-08 Chicago Cubs, joining the 1921-22 New York Giants, the St. Louis Cardinals of `44 and `46, the Los Angeles Dodgers of `63 and `65, and that Big Red Machine.

And these Giants did it with small ball, becoming only the fifth big league team - and the first since the 1982 Cardinals - to win the title after finishing dead last in home runs during the regular season.

``Our guys had a date with destiny,'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said.

Marco Scutaro delivered one more key hit this October, a go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th inning against Phil Coke.

On a night of biting cold, stiff breezes and some rain, the Giants sealed the title when Sergio Romo got Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to look at strike three for the final out.

``Tonight was a battle,'' said Giants catcher Buster Posey, the NL batting champion. ``And I think tonight was a fitting way for us to end it because those guys played hard. They didn't stop, and it's an unbelievable feeling.''

Posey, the only player in the starting lineup when San Francisco win the 2010 clincher at Texas, celebrated with his teammates in the center of the Comerica Park diamond. In the clubhouse, they hoisted the trophy, passed it around and shouted the name of each player who held it.

``World Series champions!'' hollered outfielder Hunter Pence, who started the pregame seed-tossing ritual.

Pablo Sandoval, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, was benched for most of the 2010 Series and then went 8 for 16 this year, including a three-homer performance in Game 1, to win MVP honors.

``I was ready for the moment,'' he said. ``I was waiting for the opportunity to be in the playoffs again.''

Cabrera delivered the first big hit for Detroit, interrupting San Francisco's run of dominant pitching with a two-run, wind-blown homer over the right-field wall in the third.

Posey put the Giants ahead 3-2 with a two-run homer in the sixth and Delmon Young hit a tying home run in the bottom half.

San Francisco then won a battle of bullpens.

Ryan Theriot led off the 10th with a single against Phil Coke, moved up on Brandon Crawford's sacrifice and scored on a shallow single by Scutaro, the MVP of the NL championship series. Center fielder Austin Jackson made a throw home, to no avail.

``We were very adamant that we have to step on their throats,'' Giants pitcher Barry Zito said. ``We saw what they did to New York.''

Santiago Casilla got one out in the ninth for the win. Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th for his third save of the Series.

The Giants finished the month with seven straight wins and their seventh Series championship. They handed the Tigers their seventh straight World Series loss dating to 2006.

``Obviously, there was no doubt about it,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``It was freaky. I would have never guessed we would have swept the Yankees and I would have never guessed the Giants would have swept us.''

The Giants combined for a 1.42 ERA, outscored the Tigers 16-6 and held them to a .159 batting average - third-lowest in Series history ahead of only the 1966 Baltimore Orioles (.146) and 1966 Dodgers (.142).

``This was the worst day of my career,'' Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. ``They played great, and we didn't. It's that simple.''

The NL has won three in a row for the first time in 30 years. San Francisco won six elimination games en route to the title.

Once again, San Francisco took an early lead. Pence hit a one-hop drive over the center-field fence for a double and Brandon Belt tripled off the right-field wall on the next pitch for a 1-0 lead in the second.

The next inning, Cabrera gave the Tigers a reason to think this night might get them back on track to end a title drought dating to 1984.

With two outs and a runner on first, Cabrera lofted an opposite-field fly to right - off the bat, it looked like a routine out shy of the warning track. But with winds gusting over 25 mph, the ball kept carrying, Pence kept drifting toward the wall and the crowd kept getting louder.

Just like that, it was gone.

Cabrera's homer gave Detroit its first lead of the Series, ended its 20-inning scoreless streak. Trailing for the first time since Game 4 of the NL championship series, Posey and the Giants put a dent in Detroit's optimism. Scutaro led off the sixth with a single and clapped all the way around the bases when Posey sent a shot that sailed just inside the left-field foul pole for a 3-2 lead.

Young, the ALCS MVP against the Yankees, made it 3-all with another opposite-field homer to right, this one a no-doubt drive.

But other Tigers disappointed. Prince Fielder, signed to a $214 million deal last winter, finished 1 for 14 (.071) against the Giants without an RBI. Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, was 3 for 13 (.231) with three RBIs.

``You just don't get to write your own script,'' Fielder said.

San Francisco did. The Giants overcame a 2-0 deficit against Cincinnati in the best-of-division series by winning three straight on the road. They overcame a 3-1 hole against defending champion St. Louis in the league championship. And then they became the first champion that hit the fewest home runs in the majors since St. Louis in 1982.

Brian Wilson - aka The Beard - missed nearly the entire season. Tim Lincecum - aka The Freak, was ace of the staff during the 2010 title run. He morphed into a middle reliever who held the Tigers hitless in a pair of outings.

Sandoval said ``heart'' was the critical ingredient.

``It's amazing what they accomplished,'' Bochy said. ``I think when you look at this club, the terms `teamwork,' `team play,' and `play as a team,' that's used loosely, but these guys truly did. They set aside their own agenda and asked what's best for the club. And we put guys in different roles, nobody ever said a word, complained or anything, and that's the only way it got done.''

NOTES: Detroit 2B Omar Infante broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Casilla in the ninth. ... Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was at the game. ... In addition to the bat Sandoval used for his first two homers in the opener, the Hall of Fame received Ryan Vogelsong's jersey from his Game 3 win, Bochy's warm-up jacket, Gregor Blanco's glove, Pence's bat - named ``Tim'' - Scutaro's spikes, Brandon Crawford's cap and Matt Cain's spikes.

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.

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