Tigers Shut Out Again After Cabrera’s Costly Popup
NOAH TRISTER,AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Miguel Cabrera had his chance with the bases loaded. Instead, he ended up standing alone near third base with his hands on his hips.
Another frustrating moment for the Tigers in a World Series filled with them.
Detroit’s Triple Crown winner left the bases loaded in the fifth with a harmless popup, wasting the Tigers’ best chance to break through against Ryan Vogelsong in Game 3 of the Series on Saturday night. The Tigers ended up losing 2-0 to the San Francisco Giants — their second straight game without a run.
“Obviously I thought we had Ryan on the ropes a couple times tonight,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “We couldn’t get the killer hit or the killer blow.”
Detroit trails the best-of-seven series 3-0 after becoming the first team since 1966 to be shut out in back-to-back World Series games, according to STATS LLC. Baltimore blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers three times in a row that year.
The Tigers hadn’t been shut out twice in a row since 2008, and not in a single postseason since Games 4 and 5 of the 1908 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, according to STATS.
The Tigers had their opportunities. They had a runner on base in seven of the first eight innings, but they hit into double plays to end the first and third.
Cabrera had a chance to put all those frustrations to rest. Down 2-0, Detroit loaded the bases in the fifth on singles by Alex Avila and Omar Infante and a walk by Austin Jackson. Quintin Berry struck out, but Cabrera was waiting to hit next.
With the crowd chanting “MVP!” and the Comerica Park fans desperate for something to happen, Cabrera slapped a line drive down the right-field line, and for an instant, it looked as if he had tied the game or perhaps given the Tigers the lead.
The ball landed a few feet foul. He then popped out to the shortstop on what Vogelsong said was a two-seam fastball to end the inning.
So the enduring image of this game for Detroit was Cabrera standing alone near his position at third base, waiting for his teammates to join him in the field after another missed chance.
“Right now, he’s the best hitter in the game. I just tried to make pitches there,” Vogelsong said. “It’s a lot easier to face him in that situation when there’s two outs. I was just trying to make a pitch, and the way we were playing defense, really just trying to get him to put a ball in play somewhere.”
Cabrera did not speak to reporters after the game.
Vogelsong became only the third pitcher to make four straight starts in a single postseason in which he allowed no more than one run, giving up five hits in 5 2-3 innings with four walks and three strikeouts. The jam in the fifth was San Francisco’s most anxious moment.
“That’s what I think makes him such a good pitcher, a quality pitcher,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s got that ability to keep his poise and slow things down, pitch at a time, as we say, and execute, and that’s what he did in that situation.”
Detroit left nine men on base. Held scoreless for 18 straight innings, the Tigers have gotten little production from the middle of their order. Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, is 2 for 9 with one RBI and Prince Fielder, signed to a $214 million contract in January, is 1 for 10 with no RBIs. Fans booed when he struck out against Tim Lincecum in the eighth.
“The Tigers talk about team, they don’t talk about individuals,” Leyland said. “We don’t point fingers at anybody in particular — we say as a team tonight we didn’t get it done. That’s the way we work here, that’s the way we’ve operated since I’ve been here, and that’s the way we’ll always operate.”
Detroit is hitting .165 in the series.
Returning home after two losses in San Francisco, the Tigers had a chance to strike early when Berry walked and Cabrera singled with one out in the first. But Fielder grounded into a double play to wipe out that threat.
“We’re not forcing anything, we’re just not getting it done,” Fielder said. “Obviously, you never visualize this kind of thing happening, but they are playing good baseball. This happens the same way at times in the regular season, but there’s more focus on the World Series. That’s baseball.”
The Giants scored their only two runs in the second. Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez walked Hunter Pence to start the inning. Before that, Sanchez had faced 95 consecutive right-handed batters without a walk, according to STATS.
This free pass proved costly. After a stolen base and a wild pitch, Pence was on third, and he scored on Gregor Blanco’s triple. Brandon Crawford’s RBI single made it 2-0.
The Tigers grounded into 156 double plays in the regular season, the most in baseball. Berry hit into one in the third Saturday after Infante and Jackson singled.
Detroit made it to the World Series by sweeping the Yankees when New York was in the middle of an awful hitting slump. Now it’s the Tigers who haven’t been able to score — and they’re a loss away from their own four-game exit.
While Detroit never trailed during the ALCS, the Tigers have not led in the World Series.
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