In the Dubsism World Series Preview, we said that for the Giants to win the World Series, they had to beat Verlander at least once, and that would preferably happen in Game 1. Obviously, Pablo Sandoval reads Dubsism.
By joining the exclusive club of guys who have belted three homers in a World Series game (Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols), Sandoval did more damage to Detroit than the Edsel and Eminem combined.
We’d be lying if we said we saw a three-dinger day coming for the Kung Fu Panda, but a big performance shouldn’t have surprised anybody…the guy can flat-out hit. Sandoval was the spark plug in games 5,6, and 7 in the NLCS when San Francisco faced elimination. Game 1 of the World Series struck me as Sandoval being out to prove he should have been the NLCS MVP (although, let’s be honest…Marco Scutaro was a damn solid choice as well).
The problem is that Sandoval missed a perfect opportunity after his iuncredible Game 1 showing. How awesome would it have been if he had pulled a Chico Escuela in the post game interview? Pablo, if you really do read this blog, give just us one ” Beisbol been berry, berry good to me.” We’d love you for life.
The thing we got wrong: With two solid pitching staffs and two pitcher-friendly ball parks where the ball just does not carry at night, we never thought we’d see five home runs in this whole series, let alone in the first game.
The Defining Moment: The fact that Sandoval hit a Verlander 0-2 fastball for a 410-foot moon shot, considering Verlander hand’t served one up on an 0-2 pitch all season.
The Fact That May Shock You: After Game 1, Justin Verlander’s all-time World Series record was 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA.
The World Series is a seven-game affair, and some people say seven is a lucky number. While that may or may not be true, you can bet the Tigers now think two is their unlucky number. Not only did their number two pitcher lose Game Two by two runs, but it was the second inning which seemed to doom Detroit.
The second inning started with Prince Fielder getting nailed by a Madison Bumgarner pitch, which was followed by a Delmon Young two-bagger into the left field corner. For some reason known only to Tiger third-base coach Gene Lamont, he gave the not-exactly-fleet-of-foot Fielder the “go” sign with no outs, and Fielder was cut down at the plate.
The real problem is that even had Lamont held Fielder at third and the Tigers had runners on second and third with nobody out, nobody did anything after that anyway. Your odds of winning aren’t very good when you only scratch out two measly hits, and we tried to tell you the Tigers can’t score if Cabrera and Fielder don’t produce.
But the pitch that hit Fielder wasn’t the worst hit-by-ball incident to happen to Detroit in the second inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Tiger pitcher Doug Fister took a Gregor Blanco liner directly to the side of his head; the ball hit so hard it caromed into shallow center field. We’ve all seen pitchers get damn near killed on hits like that, but Fister stayed in the ball game to pitch six solid innings of one-run ball.
The problem was that Madison Bumgarner – the same Bumgarner who got sent to the bullpen for his awful starts in the divisional series against the Reds – served up seven innings of shutout ball. Honestly, the only real threat the Tigers mounted was in the second inning, when they ran themselves right out of a potential rally. The Tigers made another gaffe on the bases a few innings later when Omar Infante got picked off.
The Defining Moment: Oddly enough, it isn’t Lamont’s blunder sending Fielder in the second inning. It’s the fact that once again, the Tigers don’t give Doug Fister any support, and a pitcher who was on a bad streak (Bumgarner) gets healthy against the Motor City Kitties. C’mon Tiger fans, how many times have you seen that this season?
The Fact That May Shock You: Madison Bumgarner struck out Austin Jackson and Omar Infante to start the game. The only other Giants pitchers to do that in a World Series game were Hall-of-Famers Christy Mathewson in 1905 and Carl Hubbell in 1933.
Did we mention that “2″ seems to be the Tigers unlucky number? 2 games in a row, they’ve been shutout. 2 games in a row, they’ve lost 2-0. There haven’t been back-to-back shutouts in a World Series game since 1966, when the Baltimore Orioles blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers in games 2, 3, and 4. A National League team hasn’t twirled consecutive donuts since the Cincinnati Reds did it in 1919 against the notorious “Black Sox.” In other words, The last time an American League club posted back-to-back blanks in a World Series, that club was actually trying not to score.
In two of the first three innings, the Tigers had the crowd at Comerica Park on their feet by putting two base runners on with less than two outs. Two times, Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong put the crowd quietly back in their seats by getting Tiger hitters to hit into inning-ending double plays — first Prince Fielder, then Quintin Berry.
That brings us to the Big 2 who had taken the “Big Sleep” up to this point in the series. Through Game 3, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder went missing; they’ve combined for a scant three singles and two walks in 21 plate appearances. The Tigers blew their best scoring opportunity in the fifth inning when Quintin Berry struck out with the bases loaded and one out. That meant Miguel Cabrera now had to face Vogelsong with two outs, and Vogelsong took advantage of the situation knowing a fly ball couldn’t bring in a run. He challenged the Triple Crown winner with back-to-back inside fastballs, the second of which Cabrera popped up weakly to the shortstop.
The Tigers’ scoring threat, and essentially the game, ended there.
The Fact That May Shock You: Ryan Vogelsong only gave up three runs on 16 hits in 24.2 innings this postseason. His 1.05 ERA was the lowest by a starter over that many innings in a postseason since Orel Hershiser’s record-setting campaign in 1988.
The Defining Moment: Anytime the Tigers had runners in scoring position. Through Game 3, Detroit went 1-for-11 with ducks on the pond.
Is it irony that we had to wait until the final game to finally get a real game? Regardless of which team you wanted to win, Game 4 was all you could ask for in terms of a post-season baseball game.
As had been the case throughout this series, San Francisco drew first blood in the second inning (there’s that pesky Tiger thing about the number 2 again…) on Hunter Pence’s ground-rule double, followed by Brandon Belt’s triple into the right-field corner.
Just when Tiger fans were thinking “here we go again,’” Miguel Cabrera emerged from his self-imposed batting exile to stroke a two-run homer in the third inning. Not only did Cabrera’s shot give the Tigers the first lead in the Series, it ended the Giants’ streak of 56 consecutive innings in which had the lead. San Francisco hadn’t trailed since losing Game 4 of the NLCS at St. Louis.
The Tigers kept the lead until the sixth, when Buster Posey had a re-emergence of his own, breaking an 0-for-8 streak by belting a 1-0 changeup for a two-run homer into the left-field seats . It was Posey’s third post-season round-tripper and first extra-base hit in 40 at-bats since his grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS in Cincinnati.
San Francisco’s leave was short-lived as Detroit quickly pulled even in the bottom of the sixth on Delmon Young’s two-out homer to right field.
Both team’s bullpens posted blank frames until the tenth inning, when it all came to an agonizing, albeit classic Giants’-style ending. San Francisco’s Ryan Theriot reached on a soft single to right field, and Brandon Crawford moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Then, NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro came up with yet another clutch hit, this one a single that drove in the game-winning run, and drove a stake into the heart of the Tigers.
This series had to be a killer for Detroit fans, and it likely wasn’t helped by the “too little, too late” scenario of Game 4. It had to be sheer torture for the Tigers as not one, but two (there’s that pesky Tiger thing about the number 2 again…) Jhonny Peralta drives died at the warning track in a tie ball game; the second one in the bottom of the ninth would have been a game-winner. Before that, Tigers fans had to suffer through Jeremy Affeldt striking out the middle of Detroit’s lineup — Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young — with the potential go-ahead run on base in the eighth after a walk to pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia.
What it all comes down to is the Giants did what thy needed to do and the Tigers didn’t. As we said in the Series preview, this would come down to a few key points:
The Bottom Line:
The Tigers Win If:
- Verlander wins both of his scheduled starts, and Jose Valverde re-establishes himself in the Tiger bullpen (Didn’t happen, he didn’t even get two starts)
- The Tigers wrap it up early. If this series gets to the last two games in San Francisco, the odds are against them (Giants didn’t need the last three games)
- Somebody besides Cabrera and Fielder provides some offense (Clearly didn’t happen)
The Giants Win If:
- They beat Verlander at least once, particularly in Game 1 (They didn’t just beat him, they blew him up)
- The clutch hitting continues and/or Buster Posey returns to his MVP form (Sandoval, Scutaro, and Hunter Pence…thank you very much)
- Bumgarner and/or Lincecum remembers it’s October (Check, please…)
The Dubsism Prediction:
San Francisco wins in six games (I really thought the Tigers would beat Cain in Game 4, and Verlander would be Verlander in Game 5…so much for that)
The Defining Moment: Miguel Cabrera striking out looking to end Game 4. It was a microcosm of the entire Tigers team in this Series; as a team, they never got the bats off their shoulders.
The Fact That May Shock You: If Buster Posey and Miguel Cabrera go on to win the MVP awards in their respective leagues, it would be the first time both MVP winners hit home runs in a World Series game since Kirk Gibson and Jose Canseco did it in Game 1 in 1988.