DETROIT -- It might have been the series that saved the Giants' season. Well, at least before the club strung together win after win in postseason elimination games.
The Giants had just completed a 3-7 homestand and watched their division lead all but evaporate. They embarked on a trip to Colorado from Aug. 3-5, and the way they dismantled the Rockies proved more significant than anyone could have imagined.
"We came off a tough homestand, and we had to get our act together," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said prior to Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday. "They did in that series and played very well, and it just got contagious."
San Francisco tallied 35 runs in the three-game sweep, and including that series, the Giants went 22-9 on the road the remainder of the regular season. That momentum away from AT&T Park hasn't vanished, as the Giants have forged a 4-2 mark on the road in the playoffs, with all four victories coming in elimination games.
"These guys have been very good at being road warriors," Bochy said. "For a team to have a good year, you need to play pretty good ball on the road, and these guys have done it."
Of course, now the Giants are in a bit of unchartered territory. San Francisco has yet to don its visiting uniforms while boasting a series lead. The Giants dropped the first two tilts by the bay in the National League Division Series before claiming all three contests in Cincinnati to advance to the NL Championship Series. The Reds hadn't lost three consecutive games at Great American Ball Park all season. In the NLCS, the Giants fell behind the Cardinals, 3-1, before capturing a critical Game 5 victory at Busch Stadium.
Whether the Giants are more comfortable in their friendly confines or in the visitor's dugout, one thing is certain: They wouldn't mind finishing off their business in Detroit.
"We're definitely not taking this 2-0 for granted," said Game 3 starter Ryan Vogelsong. "We want to come here and play the type of baseball that we've been playing over the last six days, and try and win as soon as possible. They're a dangerous team over there."
Giants to go game by game with DH choice
DETROIT -- Reserving the right to change his mind, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that his selection of designated hitters for World Series games here will be made day by day.
Bochy said that he'll consider factors such as the performance of Game 3 DH Hector Sanchez and how other Giants hitters have fared against Max Scherzer, Detroit's Game 4 starter, and Justin Verlander, who'll pitch Game 5 for Detroit if it's played.Bochy explained that he batted the switch-hitting Sanchez eighth to separate left-handed batters Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford, which would prevent Detroit from summoning left-handed relievers Drew Smyly or Phil Coke to face back-to-back left-handed batters. Bochy said that he never considered dropping Blanco from seventh in the batting order to ninth, which conceivably would give the Giants consecutive leadoff hitters after the first time through the order. "I like the way Gregor's swinging," Bochy said of his left fielder, who entered Saturday batting .286 (2-for-7) for the Series. "I want to keep him where he was."
Dual hitting coaches working well for Giants
DETROIT -- A growing number of teams, including the Giants, are employing two hitting coaches. It's simply a matter of doing what's best for players."It's hard to give them undivided attention every day," said Hensley Meulens, who shares San Francisco's hitting-coach duties with Joe Lefebvre. "There's a lot of work guys do today that they didn't do before," Lefebvre said. Lefebvre returned to the field late last season after spending nearly five years serving general manager Brian Sabean as a senior advisor of professional scouting. Lefebvre is accustomed to sharing responsibilities as hitting coach, having done that with Gene Clines in 2002 and Willie Upshaw during part of his 2003-07 tenure as San Francisco's primary batting coach. "He has a great understanding of what it is I want to get done," Meulens said of Lefebvre. "And he has a great eye for guys not doing things right." Lefebvre said that when he suggests to Meulens giving advice to a particular hitter, "a lot of times he'll say, 'Go ahead and do it.'" Something must be working. The Giants scored 718 runs this season, compared with 570 last year. They also hit a Major League-best .296 with runners in scoring position after the All-Star break, eclipsing the .225 figure they posted in those situations before the break. "They get work done through each other and communicate so well together, whether it's in the cage, on the field or looking at video," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Tigers manager Leyland tips cap to Bochy
DETROIT -- Jim Leyland has preached his lack of concern about opposing managers' methods. Detroit's skipper prefers to worry about his own team and his own strategy.
Still, he couldn't help but praise Giants manager Bruce Bochy for the job he has done taking a team missing the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game and its closer and directing the club to a division title and World Series berth, despite facing elimination in six contests this postseason.
"Obviously, his track record speaks for itself," Leyland said prior to Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday. "He's one of the best managers in all of baseball, there's no question. He handles his bullpen tremendous, as good as you can handle a bullpen. He's at the head of the class with some other guys, there's no question about that."
Bochy managed the Padres for 12 years before switching allegiances to the Giants before the 2007 campaign. His teams have finished with a winning record in nine of his 18 seasons at the helm. This is his third World Series appearance as skipper, and he's seeking his second ring. Yet Bochy seems to fly under the radar, with just one National League Manager of the Year Award on his resume and only one second-place finish.
"He's got a nice, calming influence about himself," Leyland said. "You know who's in charge. He's everything that's good about baseball managers, in my opinion. He does it the right way. You never hear Bruce Bochy boasting himself or anything like that. You don't really hear much about him. He's terrific."