And that is what has been missing from the media: pitching wins in the playoffs. The talk was all about the Tiger's mighty hitters, but nothing about the Giants shutdown pitchers. As my research has shown, when pitchers dominate, that team normally wins. Ironically, Anibal had a 5 PQS DOM start and Vogelsong didn't, only a 2 PQS, would have been 3 if he pitched one more out, so the Tigers actually had a better pitched game, but sometimes pitchers can will themselves to a win. Vogie certainly did in this game.
3-0. No team has ever come back from that, most end in 4 games, a handful to 5 games, but pretty much done. Psychologically, that makes sense, but then again the Giants beat that TWICE already in the playoffs, first against the Reds, then the Cards, so the question is: Do the Tigers have a Hunter amongst them who can rise them up and do the improbable? From the media, I don't see anyone talking brave like the Giants did in the face of the impossible. So I would say no, but you never no. But I don't have anybody else I would want starting this game but Cainer.
Game 4: Cain vs. Scherzer
Matt Cain: The Giants ace pitched like one in Game 7 of the NLCS, tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings. After not allowing an earned run in the 2010 postseason, Game 7 was Cain's first scoreless appearance this year. He has a career 1.83 ERA in the playoffs.
Max Scherzer: The Tigers have scheduled Scherzer this postseason with at least a little caution for his right arm; he is working his way back from a deltoid strain. His 10 K's over 5 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the ALCS suggests he's well on his way to full strength.Cain has never faced Detroit ever, either at home or on the road. For his career, he has been a bit worse on the road in his career, 3.61 ERA vs. 2.98, but he has been much better the past 4 seasons, as he has methodically gotten better over time in one area or another, and had a 3.24 ERA on the road in the last four seasons. He has been almost equally good against hitters: .222/.286/.360/.646 vs. RHB; .231/.304/.363/.667 vs. LHB.
He has faced a number of hitters before, since they came from NL teams or another AL team he has faced. Fielder has done well against Cain for his career, though poor by Fielder standards: .278/.364/.389/.753 with no homers in 22 PA. Infante is the only other to have extensive PAs: .333/.364/.333/.697 with no extra-base hits in 22 PA, only 2 K's. Cabrera is 1 for 6 but that one is a homer, plus 2 K's. Peralta was 1 for 3 (double) with 2 K's.
Overall, Detroit RHB hit RHP .274/.322/.441/.763 and RHB hit RHP .275/.354/.427/.780. So they hit RHP pretty well, which is why they have such a good record against RHP, 62-49. Plus they have played well at home, 50-31, averaging 4.85 runs per game there. So Cain could have a tough time in Detroit, despite it being considered a pitcher's park, as apparently their offense is built to succeed there.
Cain has had a tough time with Brian O'Nora behind the plate, but that appears to randomness there, as while he has a 4.50 ERA in 4 starts, in 26.0 IP, he has given up only 23 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 24. His only real blemish is the 3 homers, which is a lot for him in that many innings, about double, maybe triple what he normally does. And I would guess that they had men on base in each case.
Scherzer had a breakout year this season, pushing his K/BB from 3-ish to 3.85 and his K/9 from 9-ish (and dropping each year) to a league leading 11.1 K/9. Somehow he put it all together this season.
He has faced the Giants 4 times, one in SF, the other three at home, two in AZ, one in Detroit. He has a career 5.12 ERA in 4 starts, but had 20 K's to 10 BB's for a good 2.0 K/BB, only 17 hits (but high walks) but the key there is the 3 homers given up. In 2011, in Detroit, in only 2.0 IP, he gave up 6 hits and 3 walks, with only 2 strikeouts, for 9 runs, 6 earned, with 2 homers. Truly horrible start. So the career numbers will be skewed unfairly by this.
But not all are from his Giants past. He has faced Scutaro the most and Marco has hit him well in 10 PA: .444/.444/.444/.889, 4 for 9, 1 K. Sandoval was only 2 for 8 with 4 K's but 1 homer. Blanco 3 for 5, double. Theriot 1 for 2 with HBP. Crawford 1 for 1, homer plus walk. Huff 1 for 2, double. Pence 1 for 6, double, 4 K's. Pagan 0 for 3, SF, 2 K's. So some success, some dominated by Max.
Probably best to look at his career stats, as expecting to blow him out in Detroit is not realistic. He has done better at home than on the road: 3.62 ERA at home, 4.15 ERA on the road. He likes Detroit even more: he has a 3.45 ERA in Comerica Park, with a 3.46 K/BB and 9.0 K/9.
Here is his weakness. He has dominated RHB, but his weakness is LHB (so perhaps that is how SF clobbered him): 232/.288/.382/.670 vs. RHB but .273/.346/.440/.786 vs. LHB. As I've been discussing throughout this World Series, the Giants have a lot of lefty hitters plus two RH hitters, Posey and Pence, who hit RHP relatively well. He has never had Brian O'Nora behind the plate.
Hard to call the game. Some suggest tight, close game, some suggest someone is going to get blown up. Generally, though, Scherzer has a much harder time against LHB, suggesting that the Giants should be able to score on him in this game. The question then becomes, does Cain give up more?
Cain during this career has done very well, in almost any circumstances. Now he is pitching in what is considered a pitcher's park. One should expect him to do well here. But Detroit eats up RHP, and especially in Comerica Park, it seems. This is the hard rock against an incredible force, and something will have to give.
But given how the Giants pitchers have been able to shut down Detroit's hitters and how the two parks play a lot like each other, including inducing a lot more triples and less homers by LHB, I have to think that Cain will be able to do enough in this game to win it, even though Detroit has home advantage and has killed RHP this season, plus has done well against winning teams, 40-34.
Have to give the edge to the Giants. Scherzer just cannot shut down LHB, and we have a lot of them. Why other teams don't overload on LHB when he's pitching is beyond me, but that's the key to beating him, I think. And we got them: Pagan, Sandoval, Belt, Blanco, Crawfard, plus Sanchez (assuming he DH's again).
And with a 3-0 lead, they have to be tight, making it that much easier for the loose Giants to win. I think we'll sweep.