DETROIT – The World Series ended Saturday night. They will play a Game 4 because they have to, and they may play a Game 5 if the Detroit Tigers find some semblance of competence. Anything beyond that is not happening if we're to believe history, and we're inclined to, even if the San Francisco Giants have reminded us all this postseason that history isn't always the sage it's cracked up to be.
History, for example, told us that the Giants weren't supposed to claw back and win three straight games on the road in the division series. No team ever had done that until San Francisco. And history, remember, gave the Giants a flyweight's chance against a heavyweight facing a 3-1 series deficit to St. Louis until they went jab-jab-uppercut.
So forgive the Giants if they're not yet ready to declare this 108th World Series the inevitability it surely is. The Giants are winning this thing, and they're winning it in grand style, a 2-0 victory over the Tigers in Game 3 staking them a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Of the 23 teams with such an advantage, 20 finished the sweep. The other three won Game 5.
Most of the Giants took the lead of Marco Scutaro, their fireplug second baseman, who declared: "We haven't done [expletive]."
Well, other than throw consecutive shutouts against a Detroit team that was blanked twice all season. And hold the owners of the regular season's best OPS with runners in scoring position to one hit in 11 such at-bats thus far. Plus play pristine fundamental baseball: perfect on the basepaths, peerless in the field, patient at the plate.
Not to mention find enough offense to scratch out a few runs here and there, whether via a historic show of power, a GPS-guided bunt or, in Game 3's case, a quick-strike second inning that provided more than enough for the Cerberus of Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo.
"Fine," Scutaro relented. "We have done un poquito. But we want more than un poquito."
The Giants are greedy for their second championship in three seasons, and with good reason: The beatdown they've delivered Detroit verges on historic, and they haven't even unveiled their best starter. That's Matt Cain, the Giants' $127.5 million man, and he'll start opposite Max Scherzer in Sunday night's Game 4.
Whether Comerica Park can play Chevy Volt and recharge overnight from the drain the Giants put on the 42,262 in attendance is almost immaterial. Here, San Francisco, Zimbabwe: Neither place nor time nor space nor even history can account for the thoroughness with which the Giants have dominated the Tigers, a series as stunning for hocking a loogie at most prognosticators as it was at affirming the Giants' place among modern dynasties.
No team since the 1999-2000 New York Yankees has won two titles within three years. The Boston Red Sox captured their two championships over a four-year span, and the St. Louis Cardinals went five seasons between titles. For the Giants – a team that scoffed at the draft, binged on past-their-prime free agents and didn't develop a position player over more than a decade-long drought – to best the sabermetrically inclined teams isn't necessarily a win for scouting. It's more an affirmation that success is multitudinous, and that the Giants' formula – pitching, pitching, pitching, a few gloves, maybe a couple knocks and some more pitching – is deadly if executed with the precision of San Francisco's front office.
"I think I'm spoiled a little bit," Giants catcher Buster Posey said, and he certainly is: To be behind the plate for a run of this magnitude – four shutouts in their last six games, 52 scoreless innings in their last 55 – is to crouch 60 feet, 6 inches from history.
The Giants' ERA since Game 5 of the NLCS is 0.666, and, yes, they are pretty much the devil to Detroit hitters. The Tigers have three extra-base hits in the series. Prince Fielder is batting .100. Miguel Cabrera is at .222, popped out against a tired Vogelsong with the bases loaded and skipped out postgame because he didn't want to face questions about the depths of his and his team's travails. Not only do the Giants have the Tigers reeling, they have them literally running from their failures.
In the series' second consecutive pitchers' duel, Vogelsong was a little better than Anibal Sanchez. And Lincecum, in a mirror to his Game 1 outing, arrived with two outs in the sixth inning and proceeded to mow through seven batters, flinging his changeup like during his Cy Young-winning prime – four swings and misses on just seven changes – dumping in a few sliders for good measure and relying on a fastball with more giddyup than he's seen in months. It peaked at 93.2 mph, sat above 92 mph and set up the off-speed stuff that was vintage Timmy.
"You ask your pitchers to give you a chance to win, and they're actually winning the games," Giants utilityman Ryan Theriot said. "They're as advertised. They're amazing. Look at Timmy. What a weapon."
Lincecum slipped a beanie over his head, a pea coat over his shoulders, a scarf around his neck and a grin to anyone looking. He was the only Giants player to hint that Sunday or Monday or, worst comes to worst, Wednesday or Thursday affords them an opportunity to pair the gold bauble that sits in most of their trophy cases. While third baseman Pablo Sandoval, now 7 for 11 in the series, offered "we're playing great ball" and shortstop Brandon Crawford, the defensive wizard, said "we have a lot of good players," Lincecum couldn't pawn his exhilaration off strictly on the thrill of Game 3.
"It's so close to hopefully getting that next win, it's not like being excited about this game necessarily," he said. "It's being excited for the potential of the win.
"We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves or say, 'Hey, we're gonna win no matter what.' "
But … they sort of have to, right? They need to think that way because they understand exactly where the Tigers are: the team with no chance, the team history laughs at, the team that's done. Detroit can look at the 2004 Red Sox, who vanquished the Yankees after falling behind 3-0 in the ALCS. All they need first is for Scherzer to beat Cain, which is eminently possible. Then they've got Justin Verlander vs. Barry Zito in Game 5, and no matter the results of that first game between those two, the advantage is Detroit's.
And then the series shifts back to San Francisco, Detroit surfing the same high the Giants have ridden for their six consecutive victories over the last week-plus. And at that point, when history has been scoffed at, when a championship is at stake, when the Tigers can be the ones to make history, who knows?
(Aside from pretty much every person who has watched this series' first three games and understands that talent notwithstanding, this matchup plays strongly into the hands of the Giants.)
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"I'm either going back to San Francisco to play Game 6, or I'm going back home to Beverly Hills," Tigers DH Delmon Young said. "I'd rather go to San Francisco."
Sorry, Beverly Hills. Delmon's coming home. All the Tigers are.
The World Series ended Saturday night. History isn't wrong on this one, not even un poquito.
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