Giants move to one win from World Series sweep
Published: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 8:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 11:42 p.m.
DETROIT — After the Giants' 2-0 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Saturday, Tim Lincecum was discussing his new role as a relief pitcher, relating it to the more prominent position he held during the team's 2010 World Series championship run.
“The second we got that ring, it's like that taste for that next ring is just sitting right in your mouth the whole time,” Lincecum said.
Then he paused for a second.
“That sounds terrible,” he said as the packed interview room dissolved in laughter.
“Let me rephrase that,” Lincecum continued. “It just leaves you wanting it even more.”
One victory away from their second World Series title in three years, the Giants can afford to crack a smile. They know they have their ace, Matt Cain, on the mound for today's Game 4. They know that no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the championship.
And with the way the Giants' pitchers have hushed the Tigers' big bats in the first three games, they have every reason to believe they can sweep the American League representative, something this franchise hasn't done since the New York Giants took the Cleveland Indians in four games in 1954.
Nobody wearing a “D” on his chest is swinging the bat particularly well right now, but the problem is most glaring at the No. 3 and No. 4 spots in the lineup. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder weigh 515 pounds between them, and their stats are as imposing as their stature. They combined for 74 home runs and 247 RBIs during the regular season.
But in this 2012 World Series, the Giants have reduced Cabrera and Fielder to a couple of lovable, harmless roly-polys.
Saturday, Cabrera was 1 for 4, with a mild ground-ball single between third base and shortstop; he popped up to short with bases loaded and two out in the fifth, ending the Tigers' most promising threat. Fielder was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, and he ended the first inning by grounding into a double play. The slugging duo is now a combined 3 for 19 in the World Series, with one RBI — by Cabrera.
Saturday, San Francisco's Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo were superb out of the bullpen, and starter Ryan Vogelsong extended his postseason comeback story by holding the Tigers scoreless for 5» innings. Vogelsong was far from dominant. He walked more batters (4) than he struck out (3), and 44 of his 104 pitches were balls. But he again showed the poise that has made him one of the Giants' most surprising stars this postseason.
The Tigers twice put two runners on base with one out — in the first inning and again in the third. Both times, Vogelsong induced routine double-play grounders to second base. It was particularly remarkable in that Vogelsong didn't get a lot of groundball outs Saturday night, just four including the double plays.
“You know, it's my first World Series,” he said. “I've been waiting for this since I was 5 years old, and I wasn't going to go down without a fight, that's for sure.”
Vogelsong's 1.09 ERA is the lowest by a starting pitcher with at least 24 innings in one postseason since Orel Hershiser's 1.05 for the Dodgers in 1988.
For much of the game, though, Detroit's Anibal Sanchez was just as effective. He retired 16 of the final 19 batters he faced, and struck out eight, with just one walk. Sanchez pitched well enough to win, just as Doug Fister had in Game 2 at San Francisco.
“He was competing his fanny off,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Sanchez. “He was absolutely tremendous. We got tremendous pitching effort, but we've been shut out for 18 innings, so it's pretty hard to win a game.”
The Giants have simply been the more opportunistic team. When Hunter Pence wound up on third base with one out in the top of the second, Gregor Blanco got him home with a blast to the base of the wall in right-center. Blanco turned it into a triple, and came home on Brandon Crawford's looping single to center with two outs.
Can the Tigers mount a fight? We'll find out tonight, when they send Max Scherzer to the mound. The Giants will counter with Cain, who seems ideally suited for the job.
“He's got a perfect game under his belt,” said injured closer Brian Wilson, who secured the last out of the 2010 World Series. “He won the All-Star Game. He's got every clinching game (in the playoffs) so far. So it's very fitting that he would throw (Sunday). Pretty sweet formula for us.”
And a pretty sweet prize is the offing — another World Series title.
(You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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