The Detroit Tigers did not enjoy their trip to San Francisco this week.
Coming into the series as the odds on favorites, the Tigers find themselves in a 0-2 series hole to the San Francisco Giants, who it now seems can do no wrong.
After a grueling seven game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants were forced to throw Barry Zito in game one against All-Planet pitcher Justin Verlander. The result? Zito dealt like the man who won the AL Cy-Young in 2002, Pablo Sandoval hit three homeruns, and the Giants smoked Verlander for five runs on their way to an 8-3 victory.
Then the Giants decided to throw Madison Bumgarner in game two, a guy who hasn’t had his normal stuff since the end July. The Tigers threw Doug Fister, who was one of the best pitchers in the AL after the All Star Break.
Fister did his job, holding the Giants to just 1 run on 6 hits, but what not many expected was Bumgarner to look like 2010 World Series Bumgarner. The 23-year-old they call Mad-Bum threw 7 innings, allowed only 2 hits and struck out 8, frustrating Tigers hitters all night and the Giants won 2-0.
Now the Tigers are heading home for the next three games, hoping to turn this thing around before it is too late.
It won’t be easy either, having to face Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain in games three and four; the Giants two best pitchers right now.
Detroit will obviously have to take this one game at a time, and playing in front of their home crowd with their best lineup out there will be a huge lift to a team that looked out of their element at AT&T Park.
Playing Delmon Young in Left field proved to be an awful idea, as the usual Designated Hitter’s fielding and arm strength left a lot to be desired…like fielding and arm strength.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has stated he will start Andy Dirks in left field tomorrow night ( 8pm ET on FOX), who is a valuable asset to the Tigers for his fielding and his ability to hit righthanders very, very well. Dirks batted .336 with a .889 OPS against righthanded pitching this year.
Whenever an AL team travels to the “Senior Circuit” NL, it is always going to be a problem dealing with a Pitcher having to hit. Luckily for the Tigers, flipping the switch to an AL Park is as much of an issue for the Giants.
The Giants don’t really have a solid Designated Hitter option, as their bench is pretty bleak. The best option seems to be starting Joaquin Arias at third base, and DH’ing Pablo Sandoval.
Another option is to play backup catcher Hector Sanchez at DH, but he is really only valuable versus Lefties, which the Giants won’t face in Detroit unless they come from the bullpen. So there’s that. Then there is Ryan Theriot and Xavier Nady, and ya I am just going to stop there.
Some early reports are that Giants manager Bruce Bochy is planning to play the incumbent Aubrey Huff at DH which, well, sounds terrifying. But Bochy has been pulling all the right strings all postseason, so what do I know.
Whoever the Giants throw out there will have to make up for the production that they have been getting out of the pitcher spot in the order, with a pitcher picking up a RBI in four of the last five games. Who says pitchers can’t hit?
A win tomorrow and the Tigers are right back in this thing. A loss, and the Giants might have their second Championship in three years all but wrapped up.
But if the Giants proved anything this postseason it is this, it’s not over until it’s over.
And no matter how awesome us San Franciscans are feeling right now, this series is far from over.
Game Three Starters (postseason stats)
DET – Anibal Sanchez, 1-1; 1.53 ERA 13.1 innings, 8 hits, 10 K’s, 5 BB’s
SF – Ryan Vogelsong 2-0; 1.42 ERA 19.0 innings, 11 hits, 18 K’s, 6 BB’s