In 162 games during the 2012 championship season, the Detroit Tigers failed to score exactly twice: On the 17th of July, they got blown out by the Angels, 13-0; on the 29th of August, they got whitewashed by the Royals, 1-0.
But that was it. In six months, the Tigers failed to score twice.
Saturday night in Detroit, the Tigers lost Game 3 of the World Series, 2-0; just 48 hours earlier, they'd lost Game 2 by the same score. And so the Tigers are the first team since 1966 to get blanked in two straight World Series games.*
* Of course, we might just as accurately report that the Giants are the first team since 1966 to record two straight (team) shutouts in a World Series; that year, the Orioles shut out the Dodgers in Games 2, 3 and 4, with Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker, and Dave McNally doing the complete-game honors.
Of course the Tigers also lost Game 1, and in a way Game 3 felt more like Game 1 than Game 2.
In Game 1, starter Barry Zito lasted 5⅔ innings before a high pitch count and a small spot of trouble knocked him out of the game.
In Game 3, starter Ryan Vogelsong lasted 5⅔ innings before a high pitch count and a small spot of trouble knocked him out of the game.
And in both games, erstwhile ace starter Tim Lincecum entered the contest and dominated the Tigers, pitching 2⅓ hitless innings. In Game 1, the Giants went into the ninth inning with an 8-0 lead, so closer Sergio Romo never appeared. In Game 3, though, their lead was just 2-0. So Romo took over from Lincecum to start the bottom of the ninth.
Jhonny Peralta led off the bottom of the ninth, and after a long battle drove a fly into the left-field corner, where Gregor Blanco -- reminiscent of Sandy Amoros in the 1955 World Series -- made a nice running grab. Alex Avila followed with a routine fly to center field. And Romo finished off the Tigers by striking out Omar Infante with Austin Jackson, the potential tying runner, on deck.
Both of the Giants' runs in Game 3 came in the second inning against right-hander Anibal Sánchez, who otherwise pitched quite nicely. In the second, though, he was visited by a strange loss of control. Free-swinging Hunter Pence led off, and Sánchez walked him on four pitches. One strikeout, one stolen base and one wild pitch later, Pence trotted home when Gregor Blanco tripled to the wall in deep right-center field. And Blanco scored a moment later when Brandon Crawford dumped a single into short center field.
Sánchez settled down, and the Giants wouldn't score again against him or anyone else. It just didn't matter, because the Tigers' futility at the plate only deepened. In the first and third innings, with Vogelsong on the mound, Detroit rallies ended with double plays. In the fifth, two singles and a walk loaded the bases with just one out. But Vogelsgong hardened, striking out Quintin Berry and retiring Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera on a pop fly to quash the rally.
And then with one out in the sixth, Lincecum and ultimately Romo took over.
So the Tigers are down three games to none, and hoping to do something that's been done just once in major-league history. Perhaps they're heartened by the fact that it happened not so long ago, within everyone's recent memory. But once is once, and the odds against Detroit are now incredibly long.
Sunday night in Game 4, Max Scherzer will start for the Tigers against Matt Cain. If Detroit can finally win a game, they'll be favored in Game 5 with Justin Verlander on the mound. And if they can win that one ... well, it's baseball. Youneverknow.