October 28, 2012
World Series Game Three Recap: Giants 2, Tigers 0
Have you ever had déjà, déjà, déjà, déjà vu? Because it sorta seems as if I've written this recap before. The Tigers’ latest 2-0 loss came against a new starter in a new setting, but the outcome was SSDD—same score, different day—for Detroit. The Tigers, who were shut out just two times during the regular season, have now been shut out two times in their past two games, becoming the first team to fail to score in consecutive World Series games since the 1966 Dodgers (and the first AL team to do it since the 1919 White Sox, who didn’t want to win).
Game Three was the seventh straight start in which Ryan Vogelsong has allowed no more than one run, but it may have been the worst of the bunch. As Daniel Rathman predicted in his preview, Vogelsong stuck with the approach that has served him so well, pounding righties inside and lefties away with two-seamers (the blue squares in the plot):
However, his control wasn’t as sharp as it had been in the NLCS; he had a hard time putting his curveball close enough to the plate to make it enticing, getting only one chase on the seven he threw outside the zone. He walked four and struck out three. When you allow nine baserunners in 5 2/3 innings and set your opponent down in order only once, you have to work your way out of jams to be successful, and that’s just what Vogelsong did. As Leyland said after the game, “I thought we had Ryan on the ropes a couple times tonight. We couldn’t get the killer hit or the killer blow.”
Vogelsong’s biggest tests came in the first, the third, and the fifth. In the first, he walked Quintin Berry and allowed a single to Miguel Cabrera with one out, but he got Prince Fielder to ground into a double play on a 2-1 changeup, with an assist from Marco Scutaro—who did well to get the throw off over Cabrera’s takeout slide—and Brandon Belt, who made a nice scoop on the receiving end. In the third, he gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Omar Infante and Austin Jackson but doubled up the speedy Berry on a grounder to second off a first-pitch changeup. It was the first start all season in which Vogelsong had induced two double plays; he hadn’t earned even one in his previous four starts.
In the fifth, Vogelsong got more help from his defense, as Pablo Sandoval stole a leadoff double from Jhonny Peralta. After that, he allowed consecutive singles to Alex Avila and Omar Infante before loading the bases with a walk to Austin Jackson. But he escaped that situation unscathed, too, fanning Berry—who had the changeup from the previous at-bat “in the back of his mind a little bit,” according to Leyland—on a four-seamer away and getting Cabrera to pop out on an 0-1 four-seamer inside.
Prince Fielder led off the sixth with a hard line drive, but it went right to Hunter Pence. Vogelsong knew how close his line came to looking a lot worse than it did: after the game, he said, “The balls they hit were at people. We played great defense again like we have been all series and all through the postseason.” Tim Lincecum followed with 2 1/3 nearly perfect innings to get the game to Romo,* though he had some help himself: