Nothing has come easy for the Detroit Tigers this season, so why should the World Series be any different?
Down 0-2 to the seemingly destined San Francisco Giants is not an enviable position to be in, especially considering the fate of the other teams that have lost the first two games of the World Series.
Of the previous 52 times a team has started 2-0, 41 have gone on to win the world championship, nearly 79 percent. The last eight teams up 2-0 have won the series and 14 of the last 15 teams have done so when leading 2-0.
The lone exception in the last 15 years is the 1996 Atlanta Braves, who won two games at Yankee Stadium before dropping the next four.
“It’s lined up to be storybook,” Game 1 starter Justin Verlander said in the crowded visitors’ clubhouse after Game 2. “We just gotta make it happen.
“We’ve been playing must-win games most of the season, especially against Chicago. And we played them, and won when we had to, so … we gotta win.”
The Tigers have been down 0-2 in a World Series before, but that was a long, long time ago. It happened in both 1907 and 1908 against the Chicago Cubs. In 1907, the Tigers lost four in a row after Game 1 ended in a tie. In 1908, the Tigers lost the first two games, won Game 3 and lost Games 4 and 5.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy obviously likes the situation his team is in, but isn’t counting any chickens quite yet.
“It’s the best of seven, we’re up 2-0,” Bochy said after Game 2. “That’s the way we have to look at it. It’s great to get off to a good start. We’re heading to Detroit and playing in their ballpark, and you keep pushing. That’s what you do at this point.
“We don’t, believe me, take anything for granted. You go out there and you play hard every game. (Game 3) is our biggest game, and that’s how we approach it.”
To give themselves a chance, the Tigers turn to Anibal Sanchez, who is 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA in the postseason, including seven shutout innings in New York.
Reliever Octavio Dotel said the Tigers all have faith in the 28-year-old Venezuela native.
“He’s shown it before we qualified for the playoffs,” Dotel said. “He’s already shown it in one start against the Yankees in New York, so that’s a sign that he knows his game.
“He had a little blister on his finger earlier, but now he got plenty of time to recover from that. Hopefully, he come with his ‘A’ game on Saturday.”
For his career, Sanchez is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts against the Giants. This season, however, he is 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two starts against them.
Speaking at Comerica Park Friday, Sanchez expressed confidence.
“We’re down two games but that’s in the past,” Sanchez said. “We have the talent and that’s why we’re here. “We’re going to fight to the end and we have a long way to go. We have to win four more games.”
The one thing that would help Sanchez is if the Tigers manage to score first. That’ll be a tall order against right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in these playoffs.
Manager Jim Leyland will have both Quintin Berry and Andy Dirks back in the lineup, the usual one he uses against right-handed pitchers.
The Giants are 8-1 in the playoffs when scoring first, so preventing them from continuing their momentum at Comerica Park would start with some offense of their own.
Catcher Gerald Laird still believes the Tigers can become just the 12th team to rally from an 0-2 deficit.
“We get to go home and play baseball where we played really well all year,” Laird said. “I still like our chances.”
During the first four games of the World Series, Major League Baseball is highlighting some of their charitable partners and signature programs to raise awareness for community causes.
In Game 1, it was Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). In Game 2, it was the Welcome Back Veterans initiative.
For Game 3, MLB is recognizing RBI, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities and Breaking Barriers, in addition to the partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of America.
For Game 4, MLB will celebrate the work of Habitat for Humanity.