Remember when starting pitching was a concern for the Giants? Oh, maybe two weeks ago? The tables have turned dramatically, folks. And if you don’t call a 0.47 ERA in six straight games dramatic, you are not a dramatic person. Ryan Vogelsong certainly followed that trend. No, he didn’t twirl a masterpiece such as the one against the Cardinals in the NLCS. If there is a comparable outing, his performance on a chilly Saturday night in Detroit, matches Game 3 of the NLDS against the Reds—gutsy, but effective.
Every start for Vogelsong is unique, though. Every out, every inning, and every strikeout adds to his warming story. He boldly says that he still has a lot to prove, but slowly the baseball world is starting to realize that he is not a fluke. Flukes don’t go this far without enduring some major setbacks. And Vogelsong’s line of 5.2 innings pitched, five hits, and no allowed runs on four walks and three strikeouts, is just another token in his hat.
Every opportunity that the Tigers generated, big and small, Vogelsong figuratively stepped on. Omar Infante singled in the third inning with one out. That situation would fall in the small category, but Jim Leyland knew that he had his boppers looming on the front steps of the dugout. They creeped even closer to the on-deck circle when Austin Jackson punched a single to put runners on first and second. Except his boppers would soon be heading in the wrong direction, as Vogelsong induced another double play grounder to the speedy Quentin Berry to end the threat.
More of a bigger opportunity arose in the fifth inning, as Vogelsong played with fire, allowing three straight batters to reach. Instead of getting Berry to ground into a double play, he got him to swing through a fastball. But Berry was the least of his problems with Miguel Cabrera looming in the on-deck circle.
Cabrera, who won the Hank Aaron award just hours before his fifth inning at-bat, came up in a huge opportunity with the bases juiced. But Cabrera quickly fell down 0-2 in the count before Vogelsong coaxed an infield pop up to the shortstop. As Cabrera slammed down his bat in disgust, Vogelsong added another token to his cap.
The Giants’ right-hander didn’t need much support. Gregor Blanco, a defensive asset, became an offensive asset by slashing an RBI triple off the right centerfield wall, scoring Hunter Pence from first base. That clutch hit by Blanco proved to be all that Vogelsong would need, but for good measure Brandon Crawford singled Blanco home to make the score 2-0.
Bruce Bochy’s so called secret weapon in Tim Lincecum displayed his versatility once again with 2.1 shutout innings in the Seattle (Lincecum’s hometown) like weather.
Now, the Giants’ magic number has dwindled down to just one game. After coming back in the NLDS and NLCS, they have a commanding 3-0 lead in the World Series. They are the ones who came afford to lose but still stay alive, unlike the Tigers who sit in a hole similar to the one the Giants dug themselves in against the Cardinals.
With just one win, the city of San Francisco will be celebrating for the second time in three years.