By: Jamie Samuelsen
The best scene in the great baseball movie “Major League” comes when Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) reads off the totals from some ugly Indian loss and realizes that the Tribe only recorded one hit.
“One hit? One G– D— hit? That’s all we got?”
I think most Tigers fans felt the same way after the Giants finished off a 2-0 win in Game 2 of the World Series to take a 2-0 lead heading back to Detroit for Game 3.
Two hits? TWO G– D— hits?? That’s all they got?
For the second straight night, the Tigers made the opposing pitcher seem like some combination of Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton and Justin Verlander (Sorry. Too soon?) Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner entered Game 2 with a postseason ERA of 11.25. He was so shaky in his previous start against the Cardinals that Giants manager Bruce Bochy skipped him in the rotation. He pitched Game 2 largely because the Giants had burned through their pitchers in the NLCS and because the Tigers struggle against left-handed pitchers. Oh yeah. There’s that.
Bumgarner pitched like an ace. But the Tigers certainly helped with that narrative.
The Tigers bats have gone absolutely silent at the absolutely worst possible time. Delmon Young doubled in the second (more on that in a second) and Omar Infante had an infield single in the fourth. And that was it. Honestly, a great play by Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford on Infante’s ball and the Tigers would have only had one hit on the night. That’s how bad it was.
If it weren’t for a garbage time home run by Jhonny Peralta in Game 1, the Tigers would only have scored one run in the first 18 innings of this World Series. Now they’re staring at the very real prospect losing quickly with the Giants two best pitchers (Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain) scheduled to pitch Games 3 and 4 at Comerica Park.
The game continued the theme of the Giants getting all the breaks, and taking advantage of all the Tigers mistakes. And the game continued the theme of everything important happening at the hot corner. Think about all of the pivotal events in this series that have happened in the neighborhood of third base.
1) Angel Pagan started a three run rally in the third inning of Game 1 when his ground ball hit the bag and went past Miguel Cabrera for a double.
2) Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont pulled off the blunder of the World Series so far by waving Prince Fielder around third with nobody out in the second inning. It was a close play at the plate on a perfect relay by the Giants. But it was still a stunning mistake by Lamont.
3) Cabrera crushed a line drive in the fourth that Pablo Sandoval snared at third. If that ball gets past Sandoval, the Tigers have runners at second and third with nobody out. Instead, the next two batters got out and the rally was thwarted.
5) In the seventh, Gregor Blanco bunted down the third base line and the ball simply didn’t break. Gerald Laird, Drew Smyly and Cabrera all watched it assuming it would roll foul. It didn’t. Blanco was safe. The bases were loaded. And Crawford drove home what turned out to be the game-winning run with a double play ball to Infante.
The Tigers have literally gotten no breaks through two games. It bordered on the absurd when Fister took a line drive off the head in the second. But he stayed in the game and actually really settled down, not allowing another Giants hit until a Sandoval single in the sixth. The fact that he’s the losing pitcher in Game 2 borders on tragic. With a win, Fister would have gotten the national attention that he richly deserves. Instead, he’ll probably remain the most underrated pitcher in the game.
But the Tigers also haven’t created any breaks for themselves. And when you scratch out only two hits in a World Series game, you can’t exactly complain to the baseball gods.
There will be questions galore coming out of this one. What was Lamont thinking? (I don’t know) What’s wrong with the offense? (I don’t know) Why did Jim Leyland seem confused and unprepared when Drew Smyly struggled to find the strike zone in the eighth inning? (I REALLY don’t know) Is there a relief pitcher down there that Leyland trusts for the late innings? (Phil Coke?) Should Leyland have brought the infield in when the bases were loaded in the seventh? (I actually didn’t mind this. Bringing the infield in might have led to a big inning. Although a one-run inning ended up qualifying as a big inning against this offense.)
So many questions. So few answers. So little time. The good news is that the Tigers are much better at Comerica Park than they are on the road. (They’re a perfect 4-0 at the Copa in the postseason.) The bad news is that the Giants don’t believe that they can lose, and the Tigers have done nothing to change their mind. The Detroit offense struggled for much of the season. We thought they had solved many of their problems in October. Apparently, we were wrong. And there’s not much time left to convince us otherwise.