DETROIT (AP) – Nothing is stopping them – not even the Triple Crown winner at the plate with the bases loaded.
Armed and accelerating, the San Francisco Giants became the first team to throw consecutive World Series shutouts in nearly a half-century, blanking Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on a chilly Saturday night for a commanding 3-0 lead.
“I’ll say this: The club is playing well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
No team has ever blown such a huge margin in the World Series. And with the way Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum and the Giants are pitching, it seemed unlikely the Tigers would even score a run, yet alone win a game.
Gregor Blanco hit an RBI triple and trotted home on Brandon Crawford’s single in the second inning, and that was ample for the Giants. Timely hits, combined with another dominant effort on the mound and sharp defense put them close to their second title in three years.
After playing a nearly perfect Game 3, the Giants will turn to Mr. Perfect Game himself – ace Matt Cain – to try for a sweep Sunday against Max Scherzer.
At this rate, it appeared only a bailout by the San Francisco staff could help the Motor City.
Don’t count on it. Switching to an AL park, chilly weather and a crowd of towel-waving fans ready to rock didn’t slow `em down at all.
“Well, it’s a good situation, but there’s nothing been done yet,” Bochy said. “It’s a number, just like I said about two. Now it’s three. But that’s not the Series.”
The Giants won their franchise-record sixth straight postseason game, and haven’t trailed in any of them. Quite opposite for the Tigers: Coming off a sweep of the Yankees in the AL championship series, they haven’t held a lead in the Series.
“We couldn’t get the killer hit or the killer blow,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Vogelsong, a career journeyman whose path to the World Series took a detour to Japan, improved to 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four starts this postseason.
“I knew my stuff was pretty good,” Vogelsong said. “I was really pumped up to be out there.”
Vogelsong induced two early double plays, then faced his stiffest test in the fifth.
The bases were loaded with one out when Vogelsong fanned rookie Quintin Berry. That brought up Cabrera, honored on the field before the game with an actual blue-and-gold crown for his Triple Crown accomplishments.
With the fans chanting “M-V-P!” and likely sensing the whole Series was riding on this at-bat, Vogelsong seemed completely calm while chewing gum. He won the matchup, too, getting an easy popup that prompted Cabrera to slam his bat to the ground and elicited cheers in the San Francisco dugout.
Lincecum took over with two outs in the sixth, and the two-time reliever looked as if he had been coming out of the bullpen his whole life and shut down the Tigers.
Closer Sergio Romo finished off the combined five-hitter with his second save of the Series.
Blanco punctuated the ninth inning with his latest fancy grab, a sprinting catch into foul territory in left field.
Combined with Madison Bumgarner’s effort in Game 2, San Francisco threw the first consecutive shutouts in the Series since Baltimore in 1966, when Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally did the trick to finish off the Dodgers.
Shut out only twice all year, the Tigers once again looked lost at the plate. When fan favorite Prince Fielder struck out in the eighth, some boos bounced around Comerica Park. Big hitters with teeny numbers, Cabrera and Fielder are a combined 3 for 19 against the Giants.
“It is what it is,” Fielder said.
The fearsome Tigers have totaled a mere three runs and 15 hits while hitting .165 in three games, and were shut out twice in a row for the first time since April 2008.
Only one team in baseball history has overcome a 3-0 deficit in the postseason, with Boston doing it in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees.
“Well, you don’t really have to tell them anything. They can count,” Leyland said. “They’re big guys, they know what the situation is.”
For the Tigers, it was the sixth straight Series loss dating to 2006 against St. Louis. They got a fine effort from pitcher Anibal Sanchez this time, but it wasn’t enough against these Giants.
It was 47 degrees at gametime, a drop of 17 from Thursday night at AT&T Park, and the Tigers clearly knew this was their chance to pull back into the Series.
Soon enough, Game 3 took on a familiar look.
During the Giants’ early two-run burst, Detroit’s body language said all you needed to know about this Series. At one point in-between pitches, Cabrera put his hands on his hips at third base, shortstop Jhonny Peralta scuffed the dirt, second baseman Omar Infante turned his back to the infield, Fielder stared down at first.
A losing posture, plain and simple.
The Comerica crowd, so pumped earlier in the postseason, quickly fell silent. Desperate to cheer for anything, the fans hollered for a long, albeit routine, flyout by Delmon Young.
Detroit grounded into the most double plays in the majors this year, and two slick turns by Crawford at shortstop added to the Tigers’ total.
Both DPs came with two on and one out, by Fielder in the first and the speedy rookie Berry in the third. Berry put both hands on his batting helmet as he zoomed well past the base, running out his frustration.
Working on 12 days’ rest, Sanchez may have been the latest Detroit player to be caught in the Rust Belt, at least in the second inning. That’s when he constantly overthrew his fastball and did not resemble the pitcher who had made two sharp starts this postseason.
The San Francisco hitters also were amply familiar with Sanchez. This was the fourth time he had matched up with Vogelsong in the last two years – Sanchez twice won duels, then lost a slugfest.
Hunter Pence, who scored one run and drove in the other during a 2-0 win in Game 2, drew a four-pitch walk to begin the second. It was a telling sign – Sanchez had not walked a right-handed batter since August.
Pence stole second, took third on a wild pitch and, with the Tigers’ infield playing in, trotted home when Blanco tripled off the wall in right. Crawford looped an RBI single with two outs for a 2-0 lead, and Rick Porcello began warming up in the Detroit bullpen.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)