Prior to tonight‘s game, Octavio Dotel stated the obvious. Asked about his team trailing the World Series two-games-to-none, the Tigers reliever said, “We need to win tonight.”
They didn’t win, and that puts them on the brink. With a 2-0 victory behind the pitching of Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo, the Giants are now one game away from the franchise’s seventh title. It would be the seventh time the Tigers have advanced to the World Series and fallen short.
Vogelsong’s performance wasn’t artistic, but it was historic. In 1937, the Yankees captured the first three games of the World Series with their starting pitchers earning wins while allowing one run or less. The Giants became the second team to turn the trick, with Barry Zito, Madison Bumgarner and Vogelsong doing the honors.
It isn’t like the Tigers didn’t have their chances. They threatened in the first inning, but Prince Fielder grounded into an inning-ending double play with two runners on. It has been a frustrating postseason for the well-compensated slugger. He has one hit in 10 World Series at bats after going just 4-for-17 in the ALCS and 4-for-21 in the ALDS.
In the third inning, rookie Quintin Berry grounded into a two-on, inning-ending double play. In the fifth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases only to have Berry strike out and Miguel Cabrera pop to shortstop. Cabrera has reached base in all 23 games he has played in a Detroit uniform, but in one of the key at bats of the Series he was bested by a pitcher who didn‘t have his best stuff The Giants right-hander allowed nine base runners in five-and-two-third innings. None scored.
“We had him on the ropes a few times,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland after the game. “We just couldn’t get the killer blow.”
The Giants offense did just enough. In the second inning, Gregor Blanco tripled in a run and proceeded to score on a bloop single by Brandon Crawford. Blanco is now 5-for-8 lifetime against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez, including a pair of three-baggers.
“He just threw me a pitch to hit and I was able to do some damage with it,” said Blanco. “But to tell you the truth, this was just one game. Tomorrow, after 27 outs, if we win, then we’ll celebrate. Until that happens, we have to maintain our focus.”
Sanchez, who fanned eight over seven strong innings, showed plenty of focus in becoming just the third Venezuelan-born pitcher to start a World Series game [Freddy Garcia and Les Straker are the others]. He deserved a better fate, but his teammates have suddenly become as offensively-anemic as the Yankees were in the ALCS. The Tigers have now gone 18 innings without scoring and have crossed the plate in just two of the last 27.
The Giants, meanwhile, are on a roll. Bruce Bochy’s team has not only pitched shutouts in three of the last four games, they haven’t trailed in 54 innings. Barring a reversal of fortune, they’re poised to close out the Series. If the Tiger are to prevent that from happening, they have one choice.
“The key for us is to win tomorrow,” said Fielder. “And then the next day and the next day and the next day. We can’t lose.”