San Francisco is beating Detroit at their own game - NBC Sports

San Francisco is beating Detroit at their own game
That game is starting pitching, and the Giants' Vogelsong has been the best
October 28, 2012, 3:10 am

But the San Francisco Giants are on the verge of their second championship in three Octobers by beating the Tigers at their own game.

Game 3 was Ryan Vogelsong's turn, and it ended exactly the same way as Game 2 - a 2-0 shutout.

You've probably heard more about the other members of the Giants rotation than Vogelsong - not to mention the starter they've turned into a stealth setup man. But this postseason is turning into Vogelsong's personal coming-out party.

In a well-traveled career, the 35-year-old right-hander was a Giants fifth-round draft choice in 1998, then was sent away in 2001 in a deal for starter Jason Schmidt. He surfaced with the Pirates for parts of four seasons, went through arm surgery, played a few seasons with two different Japanese League teams, then passed through the Phillies and Angels organizations before landing with the Giants in 2011 as a non-roster invitee.

"And the rest is history,'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said.

Such as leading the NL in ERA for a while this season and landing on the NL All-Star team. And now you'll find Vogelsong in the postseason record book, too.

In 24.2 postseason innings over four starts, Vogelsong's ERA is 1.09. The last time anybody went lower in a postseason was Orel Hershiser in 1987 (1.05 ERA in 42.2 innings).

With 5 2/3 scoreless - albeit testy - innings on Saturday, Vogelsong ducked under the mark of another postseason legend - Curt Schilling's 1.13 ERA with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Vogelsong has allowed one or fewer runs in all four of his postseason starts (and his last seven, dating back to the regular season). The only other pitchers to do that in one postseason are Schilling, Burt Hooton (1981) and John "Blue Moon" Odom (1972).

But Vogelsong only added on to what Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner did in the first two games. The trio has allowed only one earned run in 18.1 innings, with each coming away with a victory. You have to go back 75 years for the last time that happened - by the 1937 New York Yankees trio of Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing and Monte Pearson.

This was Vogelsong's most troublesome of his four playoff outings, as he put nine runners on, but then pitched well in traffic.

"I didn't think my stuff was as good as in my NLCS start,'' Vogelsong said. "I really just tried to hit Buster's glove as many times as I could. When the guys are playing defense behind you, it encourages you to just put the ball in play.''

And when you've been where Vogelsong has been in his career, it makes a game's tougher moments a little easier to get through. Double-play ground balls got him out of two-on, one-out jams in the first and third innings, but that was minor compared with facing Miguel Cabrera with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth.

"Right now, he's the best hitter in the game,'' Vogelsong said. "I just tried to make pitches there. It's a lot easier facing him with two outs. I made a good pitch, and he popped it up. This is my first World Series. I've been waiting for this since I was 5 years old, and I wasn't going to go down without a fight, that's for sure.''

The Giants aren't the first team to attempt to attack Cabrera by pounding him inside, even off the plate inside. But they've succeeded at it best. Fielder's struggles are deeper, as he has impatiently expanded his strike zone.

"They're great hitters,'' Sabean said. "I certainly understand why with (Justin) Verlander and those two guys, they'd be the favorites in this series. But the game is funny. You still have to compete inning to inning, and we're winning a lot of innings.

"We were ready for this series because of the two teams we played (in the NL playoffs - the Nationals and Cardinals). Those are two pretty good offensive teams. I hate to use the phrase 'battle-tested' because we're not in the military. But our guys were ready to pitch the way they have needed to pitch, the way they still need to pitch.''


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