Pitching dominance puts Giants on brink of title

DETROIT — In the ALCS, all of baseball’s focus fell on the New York Yankees and their lack of offense, while the Detroit Tigers’ superb pitching got lost in the shuffle.

The San Francisco Giants want to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen in the World Series.

The Giants have allowed three runs while taking a 3-0 lead over the Tigers, and their starting pitchers have only allowed a single run. In the process, they’ve become the first National League team to post back-to-back shutouts in the World Series since the 1919 Cincinnati Reds — and they had the advantage of playing a team that was throwing the games.

“Our team is pitching very well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’m not going to say that the breaks are going our way, because our guys are just doing a great job.”

Saturday’s Game 3 win was another showcase for two of San Francisco’s biggest postseason stars — Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum. Vogelsong started the game with 5 2/3 shutout innings, giving him a 1.09 ERA in four postseason starts, while Lincecum followed with 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief.

“This is my first World Series, and I’ve been dreaming about this since I was five,” said Vogelsong, who bounced around the minors and Japan before establishing himself last year with the Giants. “I didn’t think my stuff was as good tonight as it was in the NLCS — I walked four guys and I wasn’t happy about that — but I just kept trying to hit Buster’s glove. I wasn’t giving in without a fight.”

Lincecum, a former Cy Young winner as a starter, is now 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in five relief appearances. Before this postseason, he had only had one career relief outing.

“This is pretty fun,” Lincecum said. “We’ve got a great group of guys down there, and they mess around enough to provide some entertainment. Other than that, you are just waiting for your name to be called, and the second that happens, you are riding on straight adrenaline.”

While Lincecum has been a relevation as a reliever, especially at the end of a poor season, Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn’t hesitate when asked if he’ll be back in the 2013 rotation.

“Timmy is an incredible talent and he’s a great starter,” he said. “It just worked out that he could help us in the bullpen right now, and he’s done an amazing job. But he’s a starter, and that’s where he is going next year.”

The Tigers, unlike most of the Yankees a week before, were happy to give the opposing pitchers a big share of the credit.

“Obviously, you never visualize something like this, but they are pitching great baseball,” Prince Fielder said. “We’re not forcing anything and we’re not doing anything differently. This is just baseball.”

Matt Cain, who picked up the win in the NLDS clincher against Cincinnati and Game 7 of the NLCS against St. Louis, will try to make it three in a row Sunday.

“You try to trick yourself into thinking it is just another game, but you know what’s going on,” he said. “You just try to stay focused and do your job.”


Trailing 3-0, the Tigers not only are trying to do something that no team has ever managed in the World Series, there isn’t a team that has ever come close. Of the 23 teams that have fallen behind 3-0, only three have managed to force a Game 5, and no one has ever forced a Game Six. That means Detroit would have to do something unprecedented just to get the series back to San Francisco, much less winning it.

The Giants have been up 3-0 twice, and finished the series in the next game both times (1922 against the Yankees, 1954 against the Indians), while the Tigers were down 3-0 to the Cubs in 1907 and also lost the next game.


Sunday will make the sixth time in nine years that a NFL game and a World Series game will be played in the same city on the same day. It happened in Chicago in 2005, Philadelphia in 2008 and 2009 and Dallas in 2010 and 2011. However, only Philadelphia involved two stadiums that share space as closely as Ford Field and Comerica Park.


Pablo Sandoval had two more hits on Saturday, and is now hitting .377 in the postseason. With 23 hits in 15 games, he is just two short of the major-league record for hits in a single postseason, held by Marquis Grissom (1995 Braves), Darin Erstad (2002 Angels) and David Freese (2011 Cardinals).