World Series Game 3: Detroit Squanders Chances

The Detroit Tigers had three legitimate cracks at breaking through against San Francisco Giants’ starter Ryan Vogelsong in the first five innings. All three chances went by the boards and the Giants’ pitching dominance of this World Series continued, as a second straight 2-0 shutout win gave them a commanding 3-0 lead in games and a chance to lock up their second title in three years in Game 4 tonight (8 PM ET, Fox).

Detroit put two on with one out in the first and Prince Fielder came to the plate. Fielder, who has had a positively miserable postseason going all the way back to the Division Series against Oakland, promptly hit into a double play. In the third, the Tigers again had two on and one out. This time it was Quintin Berry who hit it on the ground and even the outfielder’ speed couldn’t stop him from being doubled up.

Finally in the fifth, Detroit loaded the bases with one out. Berry struck out, but Miguel Cabrera was up next. The Triple Crown winner has not swung the bat badly in this Series—his .222 average belies the fact he has three line drive outs and in a sample size this small that’s enough to be the difference in a healthy or poor batting average. But in his most important at-bat of the World Series to date, he got underneath it and popped out to short.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy summoned Tim Lincecum from the pen in the sixth and got 2.1 IP of quality relief work and then Sergio Romo closed the game without incident. Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez was a little shaky early, with San Fran touching him for two runs in the second, a long triple by Gregor Blanco being the key blow. But Sanchez was brilliant thereafter. He just didn’t get any help.

I was surprised that the Giants went with Vogelsong rather than Matt Cain in this game. The Game 3 starter would be on full rest for Game 7, and I’d have assumed that Cain—as the ace—would get that nod. But with the way both are pitching, it probably doesn’t matter much. And as far as the future goes, even a Monday night Game 5 seems unlikely.

Detroit sends Max Scherzer to the mound tonight and the power pitcher he’s done some very good work down the stretch. But he’s still the fourth starter in the rotation. San Francisco sends Cain to the hill. If you’re the Giants, you want to close this thing out tonight and not let Justin Verlander back on the mound Monday and a chance for Detroit get any momentum.