SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — There's a bearded and boisterous reliever pulling pranks in the dugout and closing out games for the San Francisco Giants in the World Series again.
No, it's not Brian Wilson — though it might be hard to tell.
Sergio Romo pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first World Series save Thursday night, stranding Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera — the potential tying run — on deck to finish off San Francisco's 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 2.
The sold-out crowd of 42,982 cheered Romo's every gyration.
"You don't feel alone out there. I'm 5-10. I don't feel 5-10 out there," said Romo, who helped the Giants take a 2-0 Series lead. "I feel 6-10. I feel much bigger. I feel important. I feel like my teammates legitimately feel like I'm somebody."
So does an entire city.
On the Fox broadcast earlier in the game, Romo teased teammates, popping up behind them for all the television cameras to catch — photobombing. The jokes helped him become a worldwide trend on Twitter and showed that Wilson, out since April recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery, might not be the only San Francisco closer with some personality.
"He's a little different than me," laid-back lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt said of Romo. "And it works for him."
For all his antics, Romo looks totally in control in the ninth.
Romo, a self-described "fan for the first five innings," had the look in his eye as soon as he ran out to the bullpen in third-base foul territory to roaring cheers from the crowd. He got Quintin Berry to fly to left and struck out Austin Jackson swinging on 79 mph slider that energized the orange-and-black faithful even more.
The right-hander capped his 11-pitch inning by forcing Omar Infante to pop up to first. With the ball still in the air, Romo punched his glove and jumped, then hugged catcher Buster Posey in a rather casual celebration by his standards.
"It's just a way to show personality and just kind of show who I am," Romo said. "And I appreciate that opportunity to do so. All in all, it's just fun to be on this stage and do so."
PANDAMONIUM: Pablo Sandoval had more than 300 text messages on his phone when he woke up Thursday morning. Players from around major league baseball, including the rival Dodgers' Matt Kemp, acknowledged his accomplishment on social media. Even Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tweeted in Spanish, "There goes the third! Pablo makes history!"
Sandoval's three World Series swings truly were heard around the globe.
A day after joining Babe Ruth (who did it twice), Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to hit three home runs in a single World Series game, Sandoval soaked in the moment before Game 2. He said he was overwhelmed by the reaction his long balls created from San Francisco to the East Coast to Venezuela and beyond.
"I still can't believe it," Sandoval said. "In the morning when I wake up, all the stuff, my friends keep texting me. But, you know, you have to realize what's going on right now in your life, so you have to keep your head up and keep focused."
The Kung Fu Panda's pops highlighted his remarkable turnaround.
The portly third baseman was benched during San Francisco's 2010 World Series championship run. His production and confidence went down, and his went weight up. Even Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy basically told Sandoval to shape up — or he might be out.
So Sandoval spent that winter running up desert hills in Arizona. He has made the All-Star team the last two season — starting for the first time this July — although his weight remains a testy topic even now, with more questions typically surfacing anytime he slumps.
"Right now we like where he's at," Bochy said, drawing laughs.
Continue reading this story on the...