By Carl Steward, The Oakland Tribune –
DETROIT — And now, some really bad news for the Detroit Tigers: The San Francisco Giants team that clocked their best pitcher in Game 1 and shut them out in Game 2 at AT&T Park is even better on the road.
The Tigers, down 2-0 in this World Series, might have their hopes tied to playing the next three games at Comerica Park, where their record is 4-0 in the postseason and was 50-31 during the season, one game behind the New York Yankees for best in the majors.
There’s just one problem. The Giants were the best road team in the majors after the All-Star break at 26-11 (.703). They also stand 4-2 in the postseason.
If the Tigers are hoping to sweep here — a practical necessity, given their performance in San Francisco — let it be known that the Giants haven’t been swept in a three-game series on the road since July 3-5 at Washington.
Moreover, after the break — including the postseason — the Giants won 11 road series, lost two and split one. And swept four.
So, despite forecasts for chilly weather in Detroit, the Giants hardly will have cold feet playing here.
“If we have to play on the moon, we’ll play on the moon,” center fielder Angel Pagan said after the Game 2 victory. “We have two games to win the World Series, and that’s all that we want.”
During the season, the Giants hit for a higher average on the road, .271 to .267. They hit more than twice as many home runs (72 to 31) and scored 102 more runs (410-308).
And although the staff ERA was more than a point higher on the road (4.29, compared with 3.09 at AT&T), the three pitchers who will start at Comerica — Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and presumably Barry Zito — were a combined 22-10 on the road.
“We’re not resting on any laurels, we’re not taking anything for granted,” Zito said. “They (the Tigers) are going to have their own fans there. I wouldn’t say we’re more confident going on the road. We’re just confident, and we’re going to take that confidence into Detroit.”
Zito said winning the first two games changed the dynamic of each team’s pitching plans. Three days ago, the Tigers were seen to have an advantage because their sweep in the American League Championship Series afforded them the time to set their rotation to peak potential. With frontliners Justin Verlander and Doug Fister pitching the first two games against the Giants’ back end of Zito and a struggling Madison Bumgarner, many people anticipated the series heading to Detroit 2-0.
Few people expected it to be 2-0 in favor of the Giants, who now come with their front-liners, Vogelsong and Cain.
“If we could have set up our rotation like they did,” Zito said, “we probably would have gone with Cain and Vogey in Games 1 and 2. But now we’re up two games and we’ve got those two guys pitching in 3 and 4. So we’re very happy about how it’s worked out.”
“We’re in a good position,” said catcher Buster Posey. “But I think we know the teams we played in the previous two series were in a good position. So there’s not any time to let up. I don’t know if it’s an extra nudge knowing how we’ve played on the road or not. I think we’re just playing well and playing confident regardless of where it is.”
Comerica Park can be daunting. The Tigers drew more than 3 million fans this season, and their fans are as loud and passionate as those at AT&T Park. Though the left-field fence has been moved in, the park is still incredibly spacious, particularly in center field.
But it isn’t a completely foreign place for the Giants. They played an interleague series there in 2011 and won two out of three. In one of those games, they produced a season-high 15 runs, including home runs by Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval.
But what’s past is past. The Giants are focusing on right now.
“I just think we’re going to stick to our game plan, keep doing what we’re doing and try to scrap out wins,” reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. “Yes, we have played good on the road, but does that mean anything? I’ll tell you after the next three games.”