The Giants are lucky. They are getting all the breaks and the snake bitten Tigers can’t do anything right. That seems to be the overriding emotion of the World Series up the this point.
While no single baseball game or seven game series is without an enormous amount of variance and random chance, the Giants are often the authors of their own good fortune. Not to mention the helping hand the Tigers provide. The Giants are indeed lucky that Jim Leyland insists on hitting Quintin Berry second. The Giants are also lucky enough to get to face the Tigers beleaguered bullpen. Getting a great start from Barry Zito while Justin Verlander lays an egg (relatively) is pretty much as lucky as it gets but the Giants, like it or lump it, are good.
San Francisco is a good team getting good pitching and playing tremendous defense facing a team providing little in the way of resistance at the plate. All that good pitching and great defense and enough hitting to counteract the “none” offense of the Tigers gives the Giants a commanding 3-0 series lead after a second consecutive shutout, beating Detroit 2-0.
The defense and pitching go hand-in-hand and look like the biggest difference maker in the this series so far. In the World Series, the Giants are simply that much better at turning balls in play into outs – the Giants key to victory to this point.
The Giants defensive efficiency rating (rate at which balls in play are converted into outs) through the first two games was a lofty .786. The Tigers? .705. There is an element of luck and no small amount of statistical noise which makes these differences as numbers irrelevant. But the reality at the core of these numbers is unshakeable: the Tigers are a brutal defense club, one that freely gifted the Giants repeated chances to cash runners as well as failed to field balls the Giants airtight D hoovered up.
Not only the number of double plays and catches but the quality of such plays. Thinking back to the highlight reel catches Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco provides in addition to the picture perfect relay throw to nail Prince Fielder early in Game Two. Blanco added to his highlight pack in the ninth inning tonight, making a great running grab in foul territory.
The Giants defenders supported their pitchers are every turn in San Francisco. With the scene shifting to Detroit, very little changed. More brilliant double plays and a general sense of competency that seems to elude the Tigers in the field.
The Tigers offense is more than complicit in their total lack of offensive output. Good defense is nice but the Tigers often made things very, very easy for the Giants defense in the early going. Lazy popups and ground balls hit directly at capable fielders does not a rally make. Ryan Vogelsong only struck out three batters against four walks but he got a big K when he needed it most: striking out Quintin Barry with the bases loaded and only one out.
The disparity in the in-play average numbers and the “fluky” hits which stand out in the mind suggest the Giants are either a lucky team or the Tigers are an unlucky bunch of saps. No manner of hedging or scoffing changes the one, immutable fact of this World Series: the San Francisco Giants are just one win away from taking the title home.
Win Expectancy Chart of Density
Ryan Vogelsong Lives Without Fear
Tonight was not Ryan Vogelsong’s finest outing but he certainly danced between the raindrops with aplomb. When the Tigers finally did threaten, Vogelsong went straight after Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera, busting the Triple Crown winner inside twice in a row — with fastballs! — like he just don’t care.
A big ballpark backed by excellent defense? Sure, “pitch to contact” or whatever. Vogelsong scraped and battled and left the game with the lead. Against a reeling offense, that is a recipe for success indeed.
Anibal Sanchez’s total lack of command until he became awesome
The second inning was an especially unpleasant one for Anibal Sanchez. He seemed to loose all manner of control in one moment then got hit hard in the next. His defense cost him two bases (which turned into a run) and the bullpen stirred as the potential for a blow up outing loomed.
Sanchez rediscovered his release point and went on to dominate the Giants over the next five innings, finishing up with a strong line of 7 IP, 6 H, 8 K, 1 BB. He didn’t quite qualify for the Shamsky Award (that goes to Austin Jackson, who was great at the plate in addition to the field except for That One Play) but Sanchez certainly did his part. It just wasn’t enough.
That Lincecum Character Showed Up in Relief Again
Relief Timmy just flat out isn’t fair: 13 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 17 strikeouts.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) October 28, 2012
If your soul is so hard and fandom so dogmatic that you, as a baseball fan, cannot enjoy the exploits of one Big Time Timmy Jim, I have legitamite pity for you and your lot in life. There are very few — if any — baseball players around whom the masses seem to rally. Everyone (within reason) loves Tim Lincecum. His change up is his gift to the world, our love is the least we can do to reciprocate.
MLB on Fox: Where Synergy Lives
Still: New Girl developed in a very solid little ensemble/hang out show. They humanized Zooey’s character beyond her grating quirks and gave Max Greenfield the screen time his breakout character “Schmidt” deserves. Eminently watchable. Or not, whatever.
Taco Commercials and Platform Leveraging Aside, Fox Does Some Cool Stuff
From Twitterer Sara (@gidget) comes this amazing super slomo gif of Buster Posey putting his next-level reflexes on display.
Tweets of the Night
This is what happens when you send the team with the 12th best record in MLB to the World Series.
— Mike Axisa (@mikeaxisa) October 28, 2012
Tweet of the year, it says here.
The last AL team to get shut out twice in a row in the WS was the 1919 White Sox. They weren’t exactly, um, trying.
— Bexy (@rebexarama) October 28, 2012
Run prevention…it’s important.
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) October 28, 2012
The free taco you get from Hunter Pence’s stolen base will be filled with aphids.
— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) October 28, 2012
Maybe it’s just me, but Ryan Vogelsong looks cold. twitpic.com/b8075p
— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) October 28, 2012
Taco Bell is terrible for you and probably doesn’t qualify as food in many countries but I still love it.
— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) October 28, 2012
Man, the Tigers look awful right now. I, for one, look forward to a combative Detroit press corps singling out each and every underperforming star for character reasons. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
Brandon Crawford can turn himself a double play, you know?
Brandon Belt can turn what looks like a high leverage at bat into a high leverage staring contest with the best of them.
There are many interpretations of Hunter Pence and his…unique looks. Via the ever-reliable @Mererog comes this mental image whenever Hunter Pence scuttles onto her screen:
There might only be one baseball game remaining this season. I hate you for laying down like this, Detroit.