DETROIT — On a brisk and windy night, the 42,262 fans at Comerica Park had the wind stripped from their sails time and time again.
Now, their Tigers are one loss from being swept in the 2012 World Series.
San Francisco’s pitching sawed off Detroit’s bats in a second straight shutout, winning 2-0 in Game 3 on Saturday night.
The faithful were ready to cut loose in the bottom of the first inning with two on and one out, but Prince Fielder grounded into a double play, completed by a fine scoop by first baseman Brandon Belt.
Then, trailing 2-0, the fans were ready to see the Tigers get back in it in the third when Omar Infante blooped a hit to right and Austin Jackson beat out an infield chopper to third.
There was one out, and Miguel Cabrera, Detroit’s Triple Crown winner, was on deck. But it never got to him as Quintin Berry grounded to shortstop for a double play.
It did get to Cabrera in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. When Cabrera popped up on an 0-1 pitch to Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford to end it, you could have heard a pin drop in the hushed crowd.
Rally-killers left and right.
At the start of this series, nearly everyone gave the Tigers an edge in starting pitching after the Detroit rotation muzzled the New York Yankees in an ALCS sweep.
And while the Tigers have gotten pretty good efforts the last two games, San Francisco’s staff is virtually untouchable.
Ryan Vogelsong was far from perfect last night, allowing five hits and walking four in 5 2/3 innings of work, but he was at his best when it counted and killed those rallies, allowing zero runs.
Vogelsong has started four postseason games, won three of them, and has allowed a total of three runs. His previous outings were in the NL’s division and championship series and he was making his World Series debut Saturday night.
When he walked Andy Dirks with two outs in the sixth, Giants manager Bruce Bochy turned it over to Tim Lincecum. He and closer Sergio Romo, who came on for the ninth, handled things from there.
Jhonny Peralta sent a slight jolt through the quiet crowd in the bottom of the ninth when he hit a 2-2 slider, up in the zone, from Romo to deep left. Not only did it end up being foul, but Giants’ left-fielder Gregor Blanco hauled it in against the side wall in the corner for the first out.
If an 0-3 deficit isn’t bad enough for the Tigers, they’ve yet to face the man considered San Francisco’s ace starter. That will come tonight when Matt Cain, 16-5 during the regular season, with one of the wins being a perfect game, makes his first appearance of this World Series.
Max Scherzer will be the starter for Detroit at 8:15 p.m., in what is a must-win game.
Anibal Sanchez gave the Tigers an effort that was good enough to win if only his teammates could have generated some runs.
"I thought he was probably over-competing a little early and then he settled in and was terrific," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said of Sanchez. "We’ve done a pretty good job of pitching since the first game. But we’ve been shut out for 18 innings, and that makes it pretty hard to win a game.
"I thought we had Ryan on the ropes a couple times tonight, but we couldn’t get the killer hit, the killer blow."
So, what does Leyland tell his players?
"They know," he said. "They can count. We’re down three games to zero. No secret formula from here. Just win one."
Sanchez went seven innings and struck out eight. But he had one bumpy evening, and that’s all it took against the red-hot Giants, who have won six straight games since falling behind the St. Louis Cardinals, three games to one, in the NLCS.
Sanchez struggled with everything, but especially his off-speed pitches, during the second inning.
It started with a four-pitch walk to Giants leadoff hitter Hunter Pence. On a called third strike to Belt, Pence stole second base and ten went to third on a wild pitch.
Blanco followed with a blast that caromed off the base of the wall in right-center for a stand-up triple. That made it 1-0 and when Crawford singled one out later Blanco strolled home for a 2-0 San Francisco lead.
Sanchez was fine before and after, his slider and change giving the Giants fits at time.
But there was no overcoming that one inning for the Tigers, whose batting average for the Series dipped below .180 as a team.
If those stats don’t change tonight, the World Series will be over in four games.
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