October 28th, 2012

World Series Game 4: Tigers vs. Giants

Same lineup from Game 3. Not a huge surprise, but kind of a surprise in the order.

Alex Avila was scratched from the lineup with right forearm soreness, almost like a bone bruise, suffered on a foul tip in Game 1. Gerald Laird takes his place.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Quintin Berry, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Andy Dirks, RF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C Omar Infante, 2B
  9. Omar Infante, 2B Gerald Laird, C

P: Max Scherzer

GIANTS

  1. Angel Pagan, CF
  2. Marco Scutaro, 2B
  3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
  4. Buster Posey, C
  5. Hunter Pence, RF
  6. Brandon Belt, 1B
  7. Gregor Blanco, LF
  8. Ryan Theriot, DH
  9. Brandon Crawford, SS

P: Matt Cain

Delmon: “We haven’t hit all playoffs”

Say this for Delmon Young: He’s going out with a bang.

When he said earlier in the week that the Tigers’ loss in the World Series opener wasn’t on the offense, that they were out of it by the time they took their second at-bats, he sounded borderline delusional.

When he said after Game 2 that they had no hook to let Madison Bumgarner off of, having gotten just two hits, he sounded more realistic.

What he said after Game 3, following the second straight 2-0 shutout loss, pretty well summed up the Tigers’ postseason run.

“We would love to be swinging the bats great, but all postseason we haven’t really swung the bats,” he said. “We hit at the right time against Oakland, and New York looked like us right now. And so, when they’re not putting up any runs on the board, it’s a little bit easier to win a ballgame if you can score one.”

His answer when asked what the Giants are doing differently was just as pointed.

“They’ve pitched us just like Oakland did, but we haven’t hit all playoffs,” he said. “We’ve just been fortunate enough that the other teams haven’t been hitting either.”

Say what you will about where he’s coming from, but he has a point.

Take away the Tigers’ series-clinching wins, 6-0 over the A’s and 8-1 over the Yankees, and Detroit has scored 25 runs in the other 10 games, including three shutouts. A good number of those runs have come off the bullpen. They’ve topped three runs in just two of those games, and both went to extra innings.

Gene Lamont was undoubtedly aware of those struggles when he waved Prince Fielder home in Game 2.

“It’s the World Series. It’s the postseason. Everybody’s pitching well. That’s why they’re here,” Prince Fielder said.

The Tigers are the first team to be shut out in consecutive World Series games since the 1966 Dodgers, whom the Orioles blanked over the final three games of a four-game sweep. They’re the first American League team shut out in back-to-back games since the 1919 White Sox, a team later determined to be throwing the series.

When the Tigers have scored runs this postseason, they’ve done a fairly good job of manufacturing offense, either through sacrificing runners over or by getting runners in motion. They tried that in Game 2 and paid for it. Now, with their backs against the wall, Jim Leyland has to get creative.

Moving Omar Infante, their best hitter this postseason, to the second spot against Matt Cain would be a start. Infante doesn’t hit Cain as well as he hits Ryan Vogelsong, but at 7-for-21, he hits him pretty well.

After that, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more runners in motion. Leyland’s remark after Saturday’s loss suggested he might try something.

“You always look to see if you miss a trick. We had Jackson run on Lincecum. We probably waited a little bit too long on that one. But you can try to manufacture a little bit. You don’t really manufacture a lot with the big guys in the middle; you let them whack away at it.

“Maybe I need to be a little more creative. Like I said, we talk about us, we don’t talk about individuals. So basically as a team, as manager, coaches and a team, we’ve obviously got to do a little bit better.”

To do that, though, they have to get runners on. And as Young reminded us, that’s not that easy for them now.

“With the way they’re pitching right now, we haven’t been able to do anything,” he said. “We can’t get guys on to be able to move guys over, steal bases, go first to third. It’s hard to go first to third when you get five hits in a ballgame.”

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