Giants take a 3–0 lead in series
The long grind of the baseball season is finally coming to a close with the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers facing off in the World Series. Although this matchup may not have the glamour of a New York Yankees versus Los Angeles Dodgers battle, it is certainly not lacking in excitement. With three Cy Young winners (Pitchers Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum for the Giants and Justin Verlander for the Tigers), one MVP (Verlander), and a triple crown winner (Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera), this series is full of talent, both on the mound and at the plate.
Both teams have faced uphill battles during the regular season. The Giants had all-star outfielder Melky Cabrera suspended for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs during a random drug test. At the time, he was leading the league in batting and led the core of the lineup. Lincecum, who came into this season as the Giants’ unquestionable ace, had a terrible season ending with an earned run average over five and being moved to the bullpen for part of the season and the playoffs.
The Tigers lost slugging catcher and first baseman Victor Martinez for the year to an ACL tear in January, prompting the managers to sign perennial all-star first baseman Prince Fielder. This signing forced Cabrera to move across the diamond to third base, causing previous starter Brandon Inge to be moved out of the lineup and weakening the Tigers defensively.
While each team needed all five games to make it out of its divisional series, the teams’ performance in the league championship series could not have been more different. The Tigers easily dispatched the slumping Yankees, sweeping them in four games to clinch the American League Pennant. The Giants, on the other hand, quickly fell behind 3–1 to the St. Louis Cardinals and were forced to win three straight games to move on. While the Tigers were at home resting, Giants players were fighting for their lives and, in the process, gaining momentum and confidence.
In Game 1 last Wednesday, the Tigers thought they had a surefire win with Verlander matching up against Zito, who has struggled since signing long term in San Francisco back in 2006. But Zito, with his array of excellent off-speed pitches, was the dominant pitcher, giving up only one run in five-and-two-thirds innings. Meanwhile, Verlander struggled, giving up five runs in only four innings, as San Francisco cruised to a 8–3 victory. Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval had the game of his life, hitting three home runs in his first three at bats. He is the fourth player in World Series history to accomplish this feat.
Game 2 on Thursday appeared to be another win on paper for the Tigers, with struggling Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner facing off against the Tigers’ Doug Fister. While both pitchers took shut outs into the seventh inning, the Giants again pulled out a 2–0 victory, scoring on a double play in the seventh and a Hunter Pence sacrifice fly in the eighth.
When the series moved from San Francisco to Detroit for Game 3 on Saturday, the Tigers hoped that the ridiculous luck that had been following the Giants would stay in the bay. Unfortunately for Detroit, the Giants pitching staff shut down the Tigers’ bats once again as San Francisco cruised to a 2–0 victory behind starter Ryan Vogelsong and relievers Lincecum and Sergio Romo. The Tigers were not without chances, but their struggling offense simply could not capitalize on their opportunities.
Overall, the Giants have both the momentum and the pitching matchups the rest of the way to close out the series after taking their commanding 3–0 series lead. Unless the Tigers can make history and win the next four games, San Francisco is going to win its second World Series in three years.