DETROIT – Not to get overly seam-headed here, but there's more to this particular World Series than a couple wins over a couple nights by the San Francisco Giants in their home ballpark.
There are reasons I'm sure a smart organization such as the Detroit Tigers has parsed. There are remedies. If the raw numbers aren't adequate – and, good Lord, they can't ever be anymore – then there is truth to be found elsewhere. Truth in the execution, truth in the outcomes, and truth in the reverse engineering of what occurred over Games 1 and 2 under the stars at AT&T Park.
These are the things we sort through.
For example, if the guy from Cooperstown is in town and he seems awfully chummy with the other team, the series might be getting away from you. Worse, when he arrives in a yellow cab and drives away in a U-Haul.
If your third baseman or catcher appears to have lost a contact lens along the third-base line and there's an umpire between them pointing in the direction of a bunch of kayaks, you're probably on the wrong end of what some people might call a "pivotal moment."
If the name "Babe Ruth" comes up while one of your pitchers is staring dolefully at his center fielder's back, then this probably is not one of those trick you-know-Babe-Ruth-was-a-pretty-good-pitcher-too questions.
If the third-base bag appears to be getting to more balls than your actual third baseman, and you've never graded out the bag as having much in the way of range, then their fluke gods may have overrun your baseball gods.
If your best chance for a lead in the series involves the 275-something-pound guy's 90-yard split time, and the smart baseball folks describe him more as someone with "great baserunning instincts," chances are the ball has won.
And if your trainer is on the mound asking your starting pitcher probing questions such as, "What city are you in?" and "OK then, smart guy, why are you here?", it is not because your trainer might be a little hazy on those details himself.
No, the series has gone a little sideways on the rested and ready Tigers, primarily because the San Francisco Giants have pitched and hit and gloved themselves to every fortuitous detail. On the other hand, losing the first two games on the road is hardly calamitous, even if it did swallow up the Tigers' best two starting pitchers in the process, and even if the Giants come back with their two best starting pitchers.
You know when weird stuff becomes game-changing episodes?
When Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have two total bases between them. When the Tigers aren't hitting Jim Leyland's weight. When Cabrera is due to bat fourth in the ninth inning of a 2-0 game and his last act is to remove his batting helmet in the on-deck circle.
When the bullpen walks four Giants (one intentionally) in two innings.
When the staff ace gets 12 outs.
Maybe it was the five days between games. Maybe the Tigers, in spite of their protests otherwise, couldn't help but believe they'd knocked out the best team in baseball last week. Maybe the Giants are just in one of those places again, where they get running downhill and don't stop until the cable car parade.
"Well, number one, I don't think they're getting any breaks," Leyland said. "I think they've earned everything they've got.
"Up to this point they've outplayed us. … I mean, they're playing good. They're playing like the Giants play and we expected that coming in. They're good. They're really good."
A team hasn't come back from oh-two in a World Series since the 1996 Yankees, who lost two at Yankee Stadium and won the next four. That will have to be something like the Tigers' blueprint, starting with Anibal Sanchez against Ryan Vogelsong on Saturday night, and continuing through Max Scherzer against Matt Cain on Sunday night.
For all the Tigers didn't do in the regular season, what they did do was tear it up at Comerica Park. Only the Yankees won more home games, and that was by one. They were 2-0 at home in the division series and 2-0 at home in the ALCS.
Problem is, the Giants are sound physically. They are sound emotionally. What I'm saying is, they aren't the Yankees. The Tigers will have to play better, at least to a point where a goofy bounce or a bad decision doesn't doom them for nine innings. That's entirely up to them, of course, starting with Sanchez.
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NBA coaches often say a playoff series doesn't start until a team wins a road game. While that would sound better for the Tigers had Justin Verlander and Doug Fister not already lost, there remains something to it. It could be their turn to be smart and capable and precise, just like the Giants.
If not, and if not soon, then the autopsies begin anew. Because, and here's the thing, if you've got four Venezuelans on your team and Hugo Chavez isn't tweeting about any of them, then something's just not going quite right.
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