DETROIT — Tigers manager Jim Leyland said before Sunday night’s World Series Game 4 that he liked the way his team’s pitching rotation was lined up for Game 5 and beyond.
“I can paint a rosy picture. … I mean, our pitching is set up terrific,” Leyland said. “But we’ve got to figure out a way to go out and win a baseball game.”
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Alas, Leyland’s Tigers never figured it out.
They tried. They fought. They took it to extra innings. But the Giants won 4-3 for their second world championship in three seasons and the seventh in franchise history.
Detroit ended a 20-inning scoreless streak with a wind-aided, two-run home run by Miguel Cabrera with two outs in the bottom of the third. It ended San Francisco’s postseason streak of 56 innings without trailing on the scoreboard.
But it was temporary.
And it became terminal in the 10th inning when Marco Scutaro drove in the game-winning run to give the Giants a 4-0 sweep of the series.
Leyland hoped his team would stay alive for another night, to hand the ball to ace Justin Verlander for Game 5 at Comerica Park.
There will be no Game 5.
After the Giants had trailed for all of two frames, Buster Posey matched Cabrera’s two-run blast with a towering shot that wrapped inside the left-field foul pole. It was one out removed from a leadoff infield single by Scutaro, and it restored a 3-2 lead for the Giants.
Delmon Young tied it in the bottom of that sixth inning, also taking advantage of the jet-stream whipping from left to right to pop an opposite-field homer with two outs and the bases empty.
It was the Tiger designated hitter’s third home run of this postseason and his eighth postseason home run, easily a franchise record, in two years.
Max Scherzer struck out eight while working into the seventh inning, but allowed a leadoff single to Gregor Blanco, who was running on a pitch to Ryan Theriot and moved to second on a groundout.
With shortstop Brandon Crawford, a lefty, coming to the plate, Leyland called on southpaw Drew Smyly.
He got Crawford on a fly ball to center. Leyland then went to Octavio Dotel against switch-hitter Angel Pagan to force a bounce out that ended the inning.
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Giants starter Matt Cain, like Scherzer a 16-game winner during the regular season, delivered seven innings of five-hit ball, although two of them were home runs.
Lefty Jeremy Affeldt faced the Tigers in the bottom of the eighth and walked the leadoff man, pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia, on a 3-2 pitch.
The crowd of 42,152 at Comerica Park was smelling a go-ahead rally with Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Young coming up, but Affeldt struck out all three.
His best pitch was a 1-1 curve to Fielder that buckled the hitter’s legs. He then swung through a fastball to end the at-bat. Fielder was 1-for-14 in the World Series with no runs batted in.
Not to be outdone, Phil Coke came in for the Tigers in the top of the ninth and he also struck out the side, three up and three down. His nastiest pitch was the last one, a breaking ball that froze Blanco for a called third strike.
However, Coke surrendered a leadoff single to DH Theriot as the game moved to extra innings. Brandon Crawford moved him up a base with a perfect sacrifice bunt, and Scutaro drove an up-and-away fastball on a 3-1 pitch into center field. Austin Jackson charged, but couldn’t make the play, and his throw to the plate was too late to stop Theriot from scoring the go-ahead run.
San Francisco closer Sergio Romo came on in the bottom of the 10th and struck out the side, ending it on a called third strike against Cabrera.
The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Hunter Pence hit a ground-rule double to the deep left-center alley. On the next pitch, first baseman Brandon Belt, hitless in the Series to that point, picked on an off-speed pitch, down and in, and blasted it of the wall in right for a run-scoring triple.
It put the Giants where they’ve become accustomed to being, in the lead. But the World Series finally provided a game with some drama, some back-and-forth.
They call it the Fall Classic, and this game surely was.
In the end, though, the same team won.
It was sudden-death for the Tigers.
And the World Series is over.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.