It’s nothing different, really. We just haven’t seen the San Francisco Giants enough to know better, what with them playing in another league and all the way out west. This, apparently, is what they do and it is why it’s difficult to imagine any other team as composed and comfortable with a 3-0 lead in the World Series.
Oh, to be sure there were the usual warnings about not taking for granted a win in tonight’s Game 4 against the Detroit Tigers despite the fact the Tigers hitters have had an embarrassing Series. After all, this is a team, that has won six elimination games this postseason. So they know what can be accomplished. But there was also a willingness to talk about where they are and how they arrived here.
“Most of our games this year were very close, very hard fought, because we’re not a team that’s going to go out and blow somebody away offensively,” Giants closer Sergio Romo said Saturday, after he and Tim Lincecum tightened the shackles that had been placed on the Tigers by starter Ryan Vogelsong. “We’re all about pitching and defence and timely runs. So, considering the way our season has gone, to me it’s really fitting that we’re where we are, and that we got here the way we did.”
The Giants are making history in this World Series as they reduce the brawny Tigers to a mewling kittens at the plate. They have pitched back to back shutouts, and the last team that went up 3-0 in the World Series and have its starting pitchers get the win while allowing one run or less, as these Giants have done, was the 1937 New York Yankees of Left Gomez, Red Ruffing and Monte Pearson.
No team has ever won a World Series after falling behind 3-0.
The Tigers, who hit into inning-ending double plays in the first and third innings, heard loud boos on two occasions at Comerica Park: first when Quintin Berry struck out with a man on first to end the seventh, swinging at a pitch that was well out of the strike zone, and when Prince Fielder struck out in the eighth on three pitches.
Fielder has seen 30 pitches in 11 World Series at bats. Miguel Cabrera – who earlier in the night received a crown from commissioner Bud Selig for winning the Triple Crown – had a first-inning single but popped up with the bases loaded to end the fifth. In a rare admission for a manager, Leyland suggested after the game that maybe he “needed to be a little more creative, offensively.
“You always look to see if you miss a trick,” he said, shrugging. “We had [Austin] Jackson run on Lincecum. We probably waited a bit too long on that one.”
Vogelsong, the 35-year-old who was making his first World Series start and has a post-season earned run average of 1.09 that is the lowest by a starter with 24 innings since Orel Hershiser had a 1.05 ERA for the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, induced two early double plays.
In addition to getting Fielder to hit into a double play to end the first, he also induced Berry into a double play to end the third.
Vogelsong orchestrated the twin killings with change-ups to left-handers. “I thought probably the biggest pitch of the night was the changeup to Berry,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of the double-play grounder. “I think it set up the next at-bat for Berry, when he struck out on the fastball. I think the changeup was in the back of his mind a little bit.”
Leyland was referring to Berry’s strikeout in the fifth with the bases loaded – which was followed by Cabrera’s pop-up.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez threw a battling six-hitter through seven innings, despite a gruesomely deliberate first two innings that had manager Jim Leyland get Rick Porcello up in the bullpen after the second inning. Sanchez had thrown 43 pitches already by then.
The Giants have never trailed in this series, and last night it was the bottom third of the order that did the damage in a two-run second, with non-roster invitee Gregor Blanco tripling in the first run and No. 9 nine hitter Brandon Crawford picking him up with a single to centre that Austin Jackson over-ran, allowing Crawford to go to second on the error.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland had his infield playing in for the second inning, so he knew what type of night it would be. “I thought we had Ryan on the ropes a couple of times tonight, but we couldn’t get the killer hit or the killer blow.”
Earlier in the postseason, Giants general manager Brian Sabean called his team cockroaches because they refused to be exterminated. Sunday, they can win their second World Series in three years, and don’t be surprised if its 1-0 or 2-1. The Giants are the seventh team since 1900 to reach the post-season despite hitting the fewest home runs in a season. More than just living on the edge, they succeed on it.
No team that has been up 3-0 in a World Series has gone on to lose the Series. Of the 24 teams that have found themselves in that position, 20 have won the fourth game to sweep.
“Hey, we’re up 3-0; they got to beat us four times in a row so, yeah, I like our chances,” said Romo, who tossed a perfect ninth and has allowed one run on four hits with six strikeouts in 9 2/3 post-season innings and who has become one of the game’s most likable personalities. “But we know anything’s possible, so we’re definitely not going to sleep on them.”