The San Francisco Giants rode another virtuoso pitching performance to blank the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on Saturday and move within one victory of their second World Series title in three years.
San Francisco have a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and could claim the championship with a victory at Detroit’s Comerica Park yesterday.
“It’s a good situation, but there’s nothing been done yet,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s a number, just like I said about two. Now it’s three, but that’s not the series. So you have to keep going about your business as usual.”
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong allowed the Tigers just five singles over 5-2/3 innings, before giving way to relievers Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo, who did not surrender a hit.
The Giants scored both of their runs in the second inning on an RBI triple by Gregor Blanco and a run-scoring single by Brandon Crawford.
Those early runs drained the enthusiasm from a sellout crowd of 42,262 desperate to see the Tigers make a move in their bid to capture their first championship since 1984.
Defeat left Detroit, shut out in the past two games, on the ropes and manager Jim Leyland said there would be no pre-game motivational speeches for his team yesterday.
“They can count,” Leyland said. “We know they’re down three games to zero, there’s no secret formula or message for them. They’re big guys, they know what the situation is, and they know we have to come out tomorrow [Sunday] and obviously win a game. It starts with that. You don’t think about the four, you think about one, and that’s basically what we were thinking about tonight.”
Vogelsong, who has been magnificent in the post-season, was aided by two inning-ending double plays in the first three innings.
Then in the fifth, the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out, but Quintin Berry struck out and Vogelsong got Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to pop out to short.
Cabrera this year captured the first Triple Crown in the majors since 1967, but the 29-year-old seven-time All-Star has just two hits and one RBI in the series.
Vogelsong, who is 3-0 in the playoffs while giving up just three runs in 24-2/3 innings, breathed a sigh of relief after retiring Cabrera, calling him “the best hitter in the game.”
“The way we were playing defense, I was really just trying to get him to put a ball in play somewhere, because I had a good feeling we were going to catch it if he did with the way these guys were all over the field tonight,” Vogelsong said. “I was just trying to make a pitch, and I was able to do that and he popped it up.”
The Tigers’ other big gun, Prince Fielder, has one hit and no RBIs in the series.
“I don’t make excuses,” Fielder said. “We are just not getting it done. We have to play it one game at time. Makes the series one game, all we can do is play hard.”
Detroit, desperate for offense, lost the opener 8-3, scoring two give-away runs in the ninth after the game was all but decided. The next game they were blanked 2-0 on just two hits.
Sanchez took the loss for the Tigers on Saturday, despite pitching well, giving up six hits and two runs, while striking out eight.
Tigers right-fielder Andy Dirks conceded Cabrera’s bases-loaded pop-up was a missed opportunity, but added: “You have to create more than one situation a game to win.”
“It was a big situation and it is not always going to happen,” he said. “It’s baseball. The best hitters in the game, they succeed one out of three times. You just have to keep trying to put pressure on the other team as much as you can and maybe get lucky.”
The Giants are seeking their second title in three years, having beaten the Texas Rangers in a five-game World Series in 2010.