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Giants beat Tigers 2-0 for 3-0 World Series lead

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Giants beat Tigers 2-0 for 3-0 World Series lead

DETROIT (AP) -- Nothing is stopping them -- not even the Triple Crown winner at the plate with the bases loaded.

Armed and accelerating, the San Francisco Giants became the first team to throw consecutive World Series shutouts in nearly a half-century, blanking Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on a chilly Saturday night for a commanding 3-0 lead.

"I'll say this: The club is playing well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

No team has ever blown such a huge margin in the World Series. And with the way Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum and the Giants are pitching, it seemed unlikely the Tigers would even score a run, yet alone win a game.

Gregor Blanco hit an RBI triple and trotted home on Brandon Crawford's single in the second inning, and that was ample for the Giants. Timely hits, combined with another dominant effort on the mound and sharp defense put them close to their second title in three years.

After playing a nearly perfect Game 3, the Giants will turn to Mr. Perfect Game himself -- ace Matt Cain -- to try for a sweep Sunday against Max Scherzer.

At this rate, it appeared only a bailout by the San Francisco staff could help the Motor City.

Don't count on it. Switching to an AL park, chilly weather and a crowd of towel-waving fans ready to rock didn't slow `em down at all.

"Well, it's a good situation, but there's nothing been done yet," Bochy said. "It's a number, just like I said about two. Now it's three. But that's not the Series."

The Giants won their franchise-record sixth straight postseason game, and haven't trailed in any of them. Quite opposite for the Tigers: Coming off a sweep of the Yankees in the AL championship series, they haven't held a lead in the Series.

"We couldn't get the killer hit or the killer blow," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Vogelsong, a career journeyman whose path to the World Series took a detour to Japan, improved to 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four starts this postseason.

"I knew my stuff was pretty good," Vogelsong said. "I was really pumped up to be out there."

Vogelsong induced two early double plays, then faced his stiffest test in the fifth.

The bases were loaded with one out when Vogelsong fanned rookie Quintin Berry. That brought up Cabrera, honored on the field before the game with an actual blue-and-gold crown for his Triple Crown accomplishments.

With the fans chanting "M-V-P!" and likely sensing the whole Series was riding on this at-bat, Vogelsong seemed completely calm while chewing gum. He won the matchup, too, getting an easy popup that prompted Cabrera to slam his bat to the ground and elicited cheers in the San Francisco dugout.

Lincecum took over with two outs in the sixth, and the two-time reliever looked as if he had been coming out of the bullpen his whole life and shut down the Tigers.

Closer Sergio Romo finished off the combined five-hitter with his second save of the Series.

Blanco punctuated the ninth inning with his latest fancy grab, a sprinting catch into foul territory in left field.

Combined with Madison Bumgarner's effort in Game 2, San Francisco threw the first consecutive shutouts in the Series since Baltimore in 1966, when Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally did the trick to finish off the Dodgers.

Shut out only twice all year, the Tigers once again looked lost at the plate. When fan favorite Prince Fielder struck out in the eighth, some boos bounced around Comerica Park. Big hitters with teeny numbers, Cabrera and Fielder are a combined 3 for 19 against the Giants.

"It is what it is," Fielder said.

The fearsome Tigers have totaled a mere three runs and 15 hits while hitting .165 in three games, and were shut out twice in a row for the first time since April 2008.

Only one team in baseball history has overcome a 3-0 deficit in the postseason, with Boston doing it in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees.

"Well, you don't really have to tell them anything. They can count," Leyland said. "They're big guys, they know what the situation is."

For the Tigers, it was the sixth straight Series loss dating to 2006 against St. Louis. They got a fine effort from pitcher Anibal Sanchez this time, but it wasn't enough against these Giants.

It was 47 degrees at gametime, a drop of 17 from Thursday night at AT&T Park, and the Tigers clearly knew this was their chance to pull back into the Series.

Soon enough, Game 3 took on a familiar look.

During the Giants' early two-run burst, Detroit's body language said all you needed to know about this Series. At one point in-between pitches, Cabrera put his hands on his hips at third base, shortstop Jhonny Peralta scuffed the dirt, second baseman Omar Infante turned his back to the infield, Fielder stared down at first.

A losing posture, plain and simple.

The Comerica crowd, so pumped earlier in the postseason, quickly fell silent. Desperate to cheer for anything, the fans hollered for a long, albeit routine, flyout by Delmon Young.

Detroit grounded into the most double plays in the majors this year, and two slick turns by Crawford at shortstop added to the Tigers' total.

Both DPs came with two on and one out, by Fielder in the first and the speedy rookie Berry in the third. Berry put both hands on his batting helmet as he zoomed well past the base, running out his frustration.

Working on 12 days' rest, Sanchez may have been the latest Detroit player to be caught in the Rust Belt, at least in the second inning. That's when he constantly overthrew his fastball and did not resemble the pitcher who had made two sharp starts this postseason.

The San Francisco hitters also were amply familiar with Sanchez. This was the fourth time he had matched up with Vogelsong in the last two years -- Sanchez twice won duels, then lost a slugfest.

Hunter Pence, who scored one run and drove in the other during a 2-0 win in Game 2, drew a four-pitch walk to begin the second. It was a telling sign -- Sanchez had not walked a right-handed batter since August.

Pence stole second, took third on a wild pitch and, with the Tigers' infield playing in, trotted home when Blanco tripled off the wall in right. Crawford looped an RBI single with two outs for a 2-0 lead, and Rick Porcello began warming up in the Detroit bullpen.

NOTES: Cabrera has safely reached base in all 23 postseason games in his career. ... A few fans outside the ballpark climbed part of the way up the exterior gate to catch a glimpse of the action from left field before a stadium attendant inside told them to get down.

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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