DETROIT (AP) — When the San Francisco Giants scored twice off Detroit's Anibal Sanchez in the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Tigers fans at Comerica Park immediately grew edgy.
In this postseason, two runs can feel like 20.
"They're normally hard to come by in postseason, because you're going to face a good pitcher pretty much every night," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
Leyland's observed that first hand this year. The Tigers reached the World Series thanks to a fabulous performance by the starting rotation — and they entered Game 4 on Sunday night on the verge of elimination for pretty much the same reason. San Francisco led the series 3-0 after shutting Detroit out in Games 2 and 3.
The composite ERA in baseball's postseason this year was 3.04 through Saturday night, the lowest since 1991, according to STATS, LLC. The Giants became the first team to throw back-to-back shutouts in the World Series since Baltimore blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers three times in a row in 1966.
That dangerous Detroit slugging tandem of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder? As quiet as Cabrera's bases-loaded popup in Game 3 — and his postgame departure without speaking to reporters.
"The biggest thing is taking care of the guys in front of them," said Giants right-hander Matt Cain, who was set to start the potential clincher Sunday. "If you can get the first two guys out in front of them ... it just makes it a little bit easier stress-wise. When you've got a couple guys on with Cabrera or Fielder or (Delmon) Young ... things aren't going so well. So you've got to focus on the guys in front of them, as well. It's just not the guys in the middle.
It didn't seem like anyone would top what Justin Verlander and the Tigers did on the mound through the first two rounds of the postseason. The Detroit ace allowed one run over two division series starts against Oakland, shutting out the Athletics in the decisive fifth game. In the AL championship series against the New York Yankees, the Tigers gave up only six runs in a four-game sweep — and four of them were against closer Jose Valverde in one inning of Game 1.