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Superb catches in left field keep Tigers off bases, pitchers appreciate stellar effort with glove

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Pablo Sandoval going all Mr. October and Barry Zito outpitching Justin Verlander -- yes, you just read that sentence -- Gregor Blanco's defense in left field was reduced to a footnote.

That's a shame, because Blanco made a pair of stellar diving catches to rob the Tigers' biggest bats of hits. He got Miguel Cabrera in the third inning and Prince Fielder in the sixth.

"That second one that Prince hit, it had some funky spin on it, and that was so impressive because not only did he dive, but he had to stay with the path of that ball," Zito said. "Blanco is just -- he's such a huge part of this team in every way."

World Series Game 1: Giants vs. Tigers

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Blanco, who made a great catch to save Matt Cain's perfect game in June, took it all in stride.

"That's part of the game," he said of his defense. "I always try to be there for my pitchers."

FREAKY RELIEVER

Might manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti have discovered the antidote to Tim Lincecum's season-long struggles? He has been getting hammered as a starting pitcher, but the kid seems like a natural coming out of the bullpen.

Lincecum did it again Wednesday, not allowing a baserunner in 2? innings, and striking out five of the seven Tigers he faced.

Lincecum pointed to a couple of factors in his favor, noting that he has pitched strictly from the stretch as a reliever, simplifying his approach, and that he has gotten himself to focus on each pitch rather than thinking ahead. Mostly, though, the two-time Cy Young award winner credits his open-minded acceptance of the reliever's role.

"For me, it's not something that I want to make a regular thing out of," Lincecum said. "But if I'm gonna have to do it now, then I'd better be positive about it and know that it's not about me. It's not about whether I'm gonna get my start, it's about winning."


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