DETROIT — Bruce Bochy said he had mixed emotions about the last time he was part of a World Series in Detroit.
He was the backup catcher for the San Diego Padres in 1984 and singled in his only at-bat.
“I have great memories of being in the World Series … what a thrill for any player, myself included, when you get to the World Series for the first time. But not real good [memories] of how it came out,” Bochy said.
The Padres and Sparky Anderson’s great ’84 Detroit Tigers split as the series opened in San Diego. Then the Tigers won three straight in Detroit to end it, the fifth and final game punctuated by Kirk Gibson’s three-run blast into the upper deck off Goose Gossage.
“It was a tough way to go out of it, but it was a great time for me,” Bochy said. “I got one at-bat, and I was thrilled that [manager] Dick Williams put me in there.”
Bochy was a journeyman player — nine seasons, three teams, never more than 63 appearances in any season, and a .239 career batting average.
Because he has been a lifelong National Leaguer and has spent his 18-year major league managing career on the west coast, Bochy has sort of flown under the radar in other parts of the country.
But his teams — San Diego from 1995-2006; San Francisco from 2007-present — have won six division championships and have appeared in three World Series.
He’s hoping to leave Detroit this time with his second world championship in three years, following the Giants’ 2010 title accomplished in five games against the Texas Rangers.
The 57-year-old Bochy is closing in on 1,500 wins as a manager, including postseason play.
“His track record speaks for itself,” said Detroit manager Jim Leyland, one of only two active managers, Dusty Baker of the Reds being the other, who have managed more games than Bochy. “He’s one of the best managers in all of baseball, there’s no question.
“He handles his bullpen as well as you can handle a bullpen. He’s at the head of the class, a tremendous manager. He has a nice, calming influence. You know who’s in charge.
“He’s everything that’s good about baseball managers, in my opinion. He does it the right way. You never hear Bruce boasting [about] himself or anything like that. You don’t really hear much about him. But he’s terrific.”
AVILA HURTING: The Tigers scratched catcher Alex Avila from the Game 4 lineup after he injured his right forearm during Game 3 on Saturday night.
“He took a foul ball between the elbow and wrist, it’s on the bone and it’s pretty sore,” Leyland said Sunday afternoon.
Avila stayed in the game after incurring the injury.
“It’s not broken,” Leyland said. “I mean, hopefully, or I’ll be embarrassed because I’d hate to think I caught a guy with a broken arm [Saturday] night.”
Leyland said no decision has been made regarding Avila’s availability for future games, if they are necessary, “but it would be a concern to be honest with you.”
Gerald Laird was in the lineup Sunday, catching and batting ninth. He’s a right-handed hitter and was going against San Francisco righty Matt Cain. Avila swings from the left side.
Leyland said Avila might be able to catch in an emergency, but doubted he could be used as a pinch-hitter.
TEAM MEETING: Trailing 0-3 in the series, Leyland had a talk with his players, a rare team meeting, before Game 4, but would not call it a pep talk.
“It’s just [that] guys are a little tough on themselves,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with making an out. There’s nothing wrong with striking out. That happens. That’s been going on in the game for years. Don’t beat yourself up; that’s ridiculous.
“It’s not a mistake not to get a hit. It’s not a mistake to make an error. It’s a mistake if you’re not prepared. We’re prepared. But right now none of us [is] doing well enough.”
CY OR SIGH? Justin Verlander was hoping he’d get another start in Game 5, scheduled for today, if necessary, at Comerica Park. So he isn’t even thinking about the possibility of a second straight Cy Young Award.
“I know where the numbers stand … but to be honest with you I haven’t really looked into it that much,” Verlander said. “There are a lot bigger things going on right now. Once the season is over it’ll be fun, but we’re not done yet.”
As for the clubhouse mood Sunday with the club trying to fight off a four-game sweep by the Giants, Verlander said: “Obviously, it’s not just another day at the office, but it’s not desperation either.”
GOOD WORKS: The Roberto Clemente Award has occasionally been something of a lifetime achievement award for good works in baseball, but on Sunday it went to its youngest-ever winner, 24-year-old Dodgers lefthander Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, visited Zambia on a Christian mission prior to the 2011 season and have since raised funds to build a safe-haven orphanage in the African nation for sick children. They have done that on top of foundation work to improve conditions for at-risk youth in Los Angeles and Dallas.
“I can’t put into words what it means to be associated with Roberto Clemente and what he stood for on and off the field,” said an emotional Kershaw, the 2011 National League Cy Young Award-winner. “This means more than any individual award I could win.”
The announcement was made Sunday evening before Game 4 by Vera Clemente, widow of the ex-Pittsburgh Pirates star and Hall-of-Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve, 1972, while attempting to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
The award is sponsored by Major League Baseball and presented by Chevrolet.
MIXING SPORTS: Sunday marked the sixth time in the last nine years that a World Series game and an NFL game were played in the same city on the same day.
It happened in Chicago in 2005, Philadelphia in ’08, New York in ’09, and in the Dallas metro area in both 2010 and ’11. But nowhere has it been done in a closer proximity than on Sunday, when the Lions hosted an early-afternoon game against the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field, and the Tigers staged Game 4 against San Francisco at Comerica. The two downtown Detroit stadiums are separated by a two-lane street.
NUMBERS GAME: The Giants became the 24th team in World Series history to own a 3-0 lead. All 23 previous teams went on to win, 20 of them in four games and three teams in five games. … The only team in baseball history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven postseason series was the 2004 Boston Red Sox in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. … The Giants went into Sunday night’s Game 4 with six straight postseason wins, a franchise record. … The Tigers, on the other hand, entered Game 4 having lost six straight World Series games dating back to Game 3 of the 2006 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. … Only the Yankees and Cardinals have played in and won more World Series games than San Francisco (109 games, 52 wins entering Game 4).