DETROIT — Everything’s coming up zeroes for the Tigers.
They have not scored a single run in two consecutive World Series games with the San Francisco Giants, and are winless after three games.
The frustration in Saturday night’s 2-0 loss was never greater than in the fifth inning, when an “M-V-P!” chant went silent after one pitch.
Tigers cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera, who hadn’t come to bat with more than one runner aboard up to that point in the Series, strode to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth. He sliced the first pitch from Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong down the line in right. It wasn’t that close to being fair, but got the sellout crowd at Comerica Park on their feet and chanting their three favorite letters.
Cabrera, winner of the game’s first Triple Crown in 45 years, had delivered so many times this season for his faithful fans. But he couldn’t come through this time, lofting a harmless popup to shortstop Brandon Crawford to end a truly promising rally.
Quintin Berry, who had a particularly frustrating first Series start, had struck out before Cabrera. And so the Tigers were shut out for the second consecutive game by the same score, and find themselves down 3-0 and on the brink of a sweep.
Cabrera has two hits in the Series and Prince Fielder has one. The middle of the batting order, which combined to drive in 247 runs in the regular season, is hitting a combined .158 with one RBI.
“The Tigers talk about team — they don’t talk about individuals,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said when asked about his 3-4 batters struggling. “Obviously, a lot of people struggle when you only get five hits and you don’t score any runs.”
Cabrera dressed and left before speaking with the media.
“He almost looks confused at the plate,” Tigers radio analyst Jim Price said during the game. “… And it’s not easy for me to say that.”
Infielder Ramon Santiago, a close friend of Cabrera’s, added, “He’s played with a bad (right) ankle the last half of the year and he’s battling. It’s all he can do and he’s giving his all.”
Fielder and Berry dealt with round after round of reporters, and stayed until the last question was asked.
“It’s just not happening,” Fielder said.
What if somebody had told him that the Tigers would be shut out in two consecutive games — something that hasn’t in the Fall Classic since the Orioles blanked the Dodgers in three straight games in 1966?
“No, that’s not what I dream about,” said Fielder. “But it happened.”
The Tigers are hanging by a thread with hard-throwing Max Scherzer going Sunday night against San Francisco ace Matt Cain.
Another very sobering thought for Detroit: Justin Verlander, who laid an unexpected egg in the Series opener, might not even get that second start and a shot at redemption.
Twenty-three teams have fallen into a 3-0 World Series hole. None has battled back to be crowned champions.
The Tigers’ offense, or lack thereof, offers no sign of a historical comeback.
Doug Fister gave up one run in six innings for the Tigers in Game 2 — and lost.
Anibal Sanchez gave up two runs in seven innings Saturday night — and lost.
Detroit has pitched well enough to have a 2-1 series lead, but is batting .165 — missing fastballs as well as off-speed pitches.
They couldn’t center Vogelsong and then continually chased low split-finger fastballs from Tim Lincecum. Closer Sergio Romo completed the shutout with a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Tigers had at least one runner on in all but two innings. They stranded nine.
“We couldn’t get the killer hit or the killer blow,” Leyland said.
Berry, who walked in the first before Fielder hit into an inning-ending double play, hit into a double-play to end the third with two on and Cabrera lurking on-deck.
The previous failure stuck in his head before striking out in the fifth.
“I did not want to ground into a double play,” Berry said. “With the worst-case scenario of striking out, we did not want to see Miggy leading off the next inning.”
Berry struck out with a scattered approach to that at-bat and then Cabrera popped up.
“It’s hard to stay fired up when you are messing it up for your team like I am,” Berry said. “We’ve all got to pick each other up.”
How did he intend to pick himself up?
“Let it go and move on,” Berry said. “If I keep thinking about this stuff today, I will not be useful at all. It’s very tough, man, very tough.
“You roll around in bed losing hours and hours of sleep. But we have no other choice but to step it up or we are going home.”
Fielder wore a white T-shirt afterward with black block letters that read: “Detroit vs. Everybody.”
The Tigers definitely are backed into a corner here — one loss from oblivion.
“But if we win tomorrow,” Berry said, “we live to see another day.”