Like a Southwest Airlines 737 descending through the cloud layer on approach to San Francisco International Airport, then suddenly emerging beneath the overcast to clearly see the Bay, the San Mateo Bridge and the upcoming runways at SFO suddenly laid out like a red carpet for landing, so to have the San Francisco Giants burst through the clouds to have a clear approach to their second World Series title in three seasons.
For the Detroit Tigers? Their situation has suddenly turned to desperate after losing the first two games of the Fall Classic at AT&T Park. While we’ve seen teams rally from two-game postseason deficits several times (including twice by the Giants in these playoffs), no MLB team, other than the 2004 Red Sox in the ALCS, has ever clawed its way back to win a series from an 0-3 deficit. And it’s never happened in the World Series.
So, the assignment for the Tigers is pretty clear in Game 3. As the late, great Oakland Raiders supremo Al Davis used to say, “Just win, baby!”
Action resumes in the 2012 Fall Classic on Saturday night, when the Tigers will try to hold serve at home with Anibal Sanchez on the hill against San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong. A quick check of the Don Best MLB odds screen notes that Sanchez is priced at -145/150 on the win at the vast majority of Las Vegas sports books, with the take-back on Vogelsong and the Giants between +130/135. The total at most outlets is seven and shaded to the 'over,' although there are some stray 7½'s shaded ‘under’ on the landscape as well.
Those looking at the Run Line will note Detroit priced at +150/155 while laying the extra run, with San Francisco -170/180 getting the extra run.
First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. (ET), with big FOX providing the TV coverage. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will describe the action.
The situation has been fluid in San Francisco ever since Bruce Bochy began to juggle with his starting pitching rotation in the NLCS vs. the Cardinals. But after rolling the dice in the first two games of the World Series at home, and being rewarded handsomely for doing so, San Francisco is suddenly in the catbird seat, with Bochy looking at his top two starters (Vogelsong and Matt Cain) for Games 3 and 4 at Comerica Park.
For Bochy’s Detroit counterpart Jim Leyland, the situation is hardly as promising, as ace Justin Verlander and second starter Doug Fister were both defeated in San Francisco. To stay alive in the Fall Classic and at least give Verlander a chance to pitch again in Game Five, Leyland needs Sanchez and/or Game 4 starter Max Scherzer to step up and deliver.
As far as Saturday night’s Game 3, however, outdueling the Giants’ Vogelsong might be a tall order. Vogelsong has been Bochy’s most-effective starter in the postseason, a stretch of domination that actually extends back to the final three games of the regular season.
Indeed, over Vogelsong’s last six starts, he hasn’t allowed more than one run in any of them, including all three of his playoff starts (each of those a win as well). Over Vogelsong’s last six games, his ERA is a microscopic 1.00; in the three postseason starts, it’s almost as good at 1.42. Vogelsong also hasn’t allowed a homer in five straight starts, and has also struck out 33 while walking just nine in his last six starts. Vogelsong’s WHIP is also a mere 0.81 in his last six outings.
Moreover, Vogelsong is backed by a deep and versatile bullpen that indicated it could also shut down the Tigers in Game 2, when Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo didn’t allow a baserunner in the last two innings. With plenty of left-right options in the pen, plus a long innings option with Tim Lincecum having settled back into a postseason bullpen role, Bochy is spoiled for choice in his relief corps.
The pressure on Saturday thus squarely rests upon Sanchez, a trade deadline acquisition from the Marlins, to get Detroit back into the series. Like Vogelsong, Sanchez has also been effective of late, although he was on the losing end of a 2-0 decision in Game 3 of the ALDS at Oakland. Sanchez bounced back to blank the Yankees on three hits in seven innings of work in Game 2 of the ALCS and enters Saturday night having allowed just 18 hits and walking nine, compared to 24 Ks, while conceding just three earned runs in 28 1/3 IP over his last four starts (0.95 ERA).
The Tigers, however, have lost three of Sanchez’ last five starts at Comerica Park entering Saturday night.
And Leyland has other concerns, in particular a bullpen that looks as if it still can’t rely upon regular-season closer Jose Valverde, who was hit hard in Game 1 in his first outing since a meltdown in the ALDS vs. the A’s. Moreover, the Tiger offense has stalled, scoring just three runs total in the first two games of the Fall Classic.
The Giants, unlike the Yankees in the ALCS, give no indication they are going to roll over for the Tigers. And unless the Detroit offense begins to score some runs, and soon, the Giants could win their second World Series on the road since 2010 (when they wrapped up the Series with a Game 5 win in Arlington vs. the Rangers).