DETROIT -- Even with a three-game lead in this World Series, Giants players were finding it hard to breathe as they waited for Sergio Romo to offer up his next pitch to Miguel Cabrera.
Barry Zito, simultaneously pulling for his team to finish the job in Game 4 while also staying mentally focused enough to get himself ready for Game 5, watched from the Giants' dugout and whispered, "throw him a heater right there. He's probably thinking slider."
That's the last thing Zito remembered.
"It picks back up with champagne in my eyes," he said Sunday night following the 4-3, 10-inning win.
A lot happened between the magnetic Romo throwing an 89-mph four-seamer to the best hitter in the American League for strike three and Zito having 12 bottles of champagne dumped on his head. First came the signature Romo arm pump, followed by catcher Buster Posey running to the mound for the catcher-jumping-into-pitcher's-arms clinching tradition. This one ended up being more of a body slam, however, mainly because Romo and Posey jumped toward each other at the same time and didn't fall to the ground.
It didn't matter. Soon, the rest of the team converged near the mound and everyone went into full mosh-pit mode.
"I lost my mind," right fielder Hunter Pence said. "I was screaming, running. Excited."
The on-field celebration lasted about 15 minutes before the players were ushered into the clubhouse. The visiting team's clubhouses are smaller than the home team's accommodations, so there wasn't a lot of wiggle room after the players, support staff and a hundred or so bottles of bubbly squeezed into the small living area.
Add at least 200 media members to the equation, and the party went from rowdy to suffocating, and perhaps a little dangerous.
"Wow," Brian Wilson said, after stepping out of the room for a breather. "There's no way we're getting back in there."
Still, the players did their best to ignore the outside distractions and revel in their sweep over the Tigers, which secured San Francisco's second World Series win in three years.
"This means everything," Angel Pagan said. "They're my teammates, my brothers, my family. They've been there for me all year. That's why I got so emotional on the field. We've been through a lot. We deserved this."
Manager Bruce Bochy walked in and held the World Series trophy high above his head and, predictably, the pandemonium increased 10-fold. Players doused the trophy with champagne while making noises that began with grunting (Woof! Woof! Woof!), graduated to chanting names (Bruce! Barry!) and ended with chanting a bunch of inside jokes that only the team understood. Then one player, possibly Pence, screamed, "World Series champions forever!"
As clubhouse TVs showed a teary-eyed Tigers manager Jim Leyland conducting his final interview of the season, a drenched Zito spoke of how important it was for the Giants to not let the Tigers win even a single game. Several players discussed this at length on the bench throughout the extra-inning affair.
"Let's not forget you can't let anyone get in," Zito recalled saying to teammates. "We saw what these guys did to New York. You let them in the door, they're going to run right over us. We were very adamant about letting everyone know that, 'Hey, we have to step on their throat now.'"
Most of the Giants' players wore goggles during the champagne portion of the celebration, with the exception of Pence, who was taught by former teammate Darin Erstad that eyewear during a World Series celebration was unnecessary.
Erstad, a member of the 2002 World Series champion Angels, once told Pence, "You've earned the burn."
Matt Cain did opt for goggles, specially made for this occasion. A gift from his mother, the goggles were built with a camera embedded in the upper rim. Cain recorded the entire postgame celebration.
What did Cain remember about the last out?
"Find a way to get over the rail," he said. "It's a tough dugout to get out of. I was just thinking, 'Hey Romo, make your pitch, dude. Do your thing.' He did a great job of not getting too caught up in the moment. He made his pitch. Then it was, 'Hey, let me go find somebody to jump on.'"
The feeling was contagious. For nearly an hour after the final out was recorded, players were still hugging, laughing, and soaking in every minute, every drop of champagne, while attempting to put into words exactly what this moment meant, both as individuals and as a team.
"It's definitely a dream come true," Pence said. "It's hard to fathom right now. I've enjoyed sharing every moment with these guys. It's a unique group. We bought into something that doesn't happen very often, and it happened to work out."