video thumbnail

WS2012 Gm2: Bochy on Vogelsong's perseverance

DETROIT -- When the Giants had to go the full seven-game slate to dispatch the defending World Series champs in the National League Championship Series, the prevailing wisdom was that having to burn their two best starters in Games 6 and 7 might come back to bite them.

How'd that work out?

The Giants got sensational starts from Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner in Games 1 and 2 of the Fall Classic, and now they take a 2-0 Series lead on the Tigers into Game 3 (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8:07 p.m. first pitch) on what figures to be a frigid Saturday night at Comerica Park.

Oh, they also have those aforementioned two best starters -- Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain -- lined up to try to tame the Tigers, who are countering with Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer, respectively.

Even though they're headed to unfriendly terrain, the Giants have to love their chances. After all, of the 52 teams to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series, 41 (78.8 percent) total and each of the past eight have gone on to win the whole thing.

"It's a lot less stressful, for sure," said Game 2 winner Bumgarner. "But at the same time, I don't think we can stop pushing or we're going to find ourselves in the same spot we've been in the last two series."

The Tigers find themselves in an uncomfortable spot, though they're trying to remain optimistic.

"The way I look at it, we're two games back with five to play," said Jim Leyland, "but we're playing the team we need to catch, and I think that's the best way to approach it."

They'll hold out hope that some home cooking is good for the soul -- or at least for their ailing bats, which managed just two hits in Game 2.

"I think we need to pick it up a little bit more," said Miguel Cabrera, "be more aggressive and try to get more lucky."

Indeed, good fortune has rested with the Giants so far. Angel Pagan's double off the third-base bag opened the door to a three-run third inning in Game 1, and Gregor Blanco put down a perfect bunt that hugged the third-base line and stayed barely fair to set up the go-ahead run in the seventh inning in Game 2.

Are the fates conspiring against the Tigers?

"If you dwell on it, it will continue to happen," Prince Fielder said. "So you've just got to keep playing hard and be prepared."

Here's one bit of good news for the Tigers: The shift to American League rules seems to benefit them, simply because they are better-equipped to fill the designated-hitter spot than are the Giants. Delmon Young moves to DH, allowing the Tigers to improve their outfield defense with Quentin Berry in left and Andy Dirks starting in right.

For the Giants, the leading candidate to DH in Game 3 might be rookie catcher Hector Sanchez, but putting him in that spot exposes them to some semblance of risk. After all, if Buster Posey were to get hurt and Sanchez had to shift to catcher, the Giants would forfeit the DH.

With that in mind, the left-handed Aubrey Huff might be a safer play for the Giants, though Huff's offensive struggles this season (.192 average) are well-documented. The Giants could also put Joaquin Arias at third and move Pablo Sandoval to DH.

However the lineup shakes out, the Giants feel good about the man on the mound. And that's a credit to how far Vogelsong has come in his career. His Tommy John surgery, his years in the Minors, his stint in Japan -- all those experiences earned Vogelsong the guts and guile to succeed on this stage. And he's succeeded so much in October that it was a no-brainer for the Giants to leave Cain on regular rest and give Vogelsong this Game 3 nod.

"He's throwing the ball as well as anybody on the staff, so we just kept it in order," Bruce Bochy said. "I didn't think we needed to flip-flop the two, to be honest, the way Vogey is throwing."

You know who else is throwing the ball well? Sanchez. And this is a must-win start for him, because no team in World Series history has come back from an 0-3 hole.

Sanchez was the Tigers' top acquisition at the Trade Deadline this year, imported from a sinking Marlins ship and inserted into the middle of the rotation. Like Vogelsong, he is enjoying his first exposure to the postseason. Though he took the loss in his AL Division Series start against the A's, he has posted a 1.35 ERA. He blanked the Yankees on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in Game 3 of the ALCS.

That's the kind of stuff the Tigers are going to need to see from Sanchez on Saturday.

"Once he got in his comfort zone, he's done absolutely very, very well," Jim Leyland said. "He's a very, very good pitcher and has pitched -- knock on wood -- in the past pretty good against the Giants. He was a great addition for our ballclub."

The Tigers are going to need to rid themselves of whatever rust has encompassed their club these past few days. Their bats have been stagnant, and it's put all the more pressure on the arms. The Giants, meanwhile, have no shortage of momentum, if such a thing does, indeed, exist. And they've had a little bit of luck, too.

The weather won't help the bats on either side. Temperatures are supposed to sit in the low 40s, but neither club is complaining.

"It's the World Series," Vogelsong said. "You can't be worried about how cold it is. I threw a game in Chicago last year where it was 34 degrees, and it was raining and sleeting, and I threw the ball pretty well that night. I don't suspect that cold weather is going to be much of an issue."

The issue right now is a 2-0 lead for the NL champs and a Tigers team with everything on the line.

MLB.com Comments