SAN FRANCISCO PITCHERS humbled Detroit Tigers batters by throwing the first back-to-back World Series shutouts in 46 years at the Tigers, putting the Giants on the brink of a championship sweep.
Right-handers Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo combined for a 2-0 blanking of the hosts on Saturday to give the Giants a three games to none lead in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final.
No team has ever captured the World Series after losing the first three games.
San Francisco can complete the first World Series sweep since Boston downed Colorado in 2007 by winning Sunday’s game four, which will match right-handed 16-game winners Matt Cain of the Giants and Max Scherzer of the Tigers.
“We know we’ve got to win one more game,” Vogelsong said. “This thing is not over until the last out. We’ve won elimination games like that.”
When facing elimination in this year’s playoffs, the Giants have won three games in a row to oust Cincinnati in their opening round as well as 2011 World Series champions St. Louis in the National League finals.
“That gave us the drive and momentum to know that we can do anything with our backs against the wall,” Lincecum said. “That gave us the confidence we need to do everything we can to win the game and make a statement tomorrow.”
A miserly unit
Since surrendering a two-run homer to Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta in the last inning of an 8-3 victory in the opener, Giants pitchers have not allowed a run over 18 innings, including a 2-0 shutout triumph on Thursday in game two.
There had not been consecutive World Series shutouts since 1966, when the Baltimore Orioles blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers in the last three games to complete a sweep.
The Giants, seeking their second World Series crown in three seasons, snapped Detroit’s five-game home playoff win streak, humbling a team whose 50 regular-season home triumphs matched the second most in the major leagues.
“We’ve been shutout for 18 innings — pretty hard to win a game,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “You don’t really have to tell them anything. They can count. We know we’re down 3-0. There’s no secret formula.”
The Tigers, seeking their first World Series title since 1984, stranded nine base runners, seven of them in the first six innings.
“We had Ryan on the ropes a couple times,” Leyland said. “We couldn’t get the killer hit. We had a couple chances and we just didn’t cash in on them.”
Coming to seed for Vogelsong
Vogelsong, a right-hander who played for the Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes in three Japan League seasons from 2007 to 2009, threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three with 60 of his 104 tosses for strikes.
“I’ve been waiting for this since I was five years old,” Vogelsong said of his first World Series start. “I wasn’t going down without a fight.”
Vogelsong has surrendered only three runs in 24 2/3 playoff innings and has allowed only one run or less in his six consecutive starts.
Lincecum, a long-haired 28-year-old right-hander who won the first and last games of the 2010 World Series for the Giants over Texas as a starter, replaced Vogelsong on the mound and struck out three in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
Right-hander Romo entered in the ninth and retired the bottom of the Tigers’ batting lineup in order to complete the shutout.
The only scoring came in the second inning after Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez, only the third Venezuelan starting pitcher in World Series history, walked Giants outfielder Hunter Pence.
Pence stole second base, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a triple to the right-field wall by Gregor Blanco, who then crossed home plate on a Brandon Crawford single to give the Giants the only runs they would need.
“Blanco (came up big) with that huge hit and played very well defensively,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “A game like this can go either way and we got it done.”
The Tigers stranded runners in scoring position in the first and third, each time by grounding into inning-ending double plays, and left the bases loaded in the fifth when Detroit star slugger Miguel Cabrera popped out to the shortstop.
“Vogey, what a gutty effort,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He got in some jams, kept his poise out there. He has got an amazing ability to make pitches when he has to.”