Joe Knows: Down 3-0, Tigers won’t — and can’t — change now
After each World Series game, Joe Sheehan will offer his quick-take analysis on a key moment or decision that shaped the outcome of the game and, potetially, the Series. For more from Joe, check out his newsletter and follow him on Twitter.
With each passing day, the Giants reduce the World Series to a simpler and simpler process. In Saturday night’s 2-0 win over the Tigers in Game 3, they got two runs in the second inning, built around a Gregor Blanco triple, and never looked back, becoming the first team since the 1966 Orioles to toss consecutive shutouts in the World Series. Detroit did a slightly better job of putting runners on than it did in Game 2 – amassing five singles and an unusually high five walks — but went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, hitting into two double plays in the process.
There’s no tactical intrigue in this World Series, no controversies, nothing to chew over. The players — the Giants players, really — have run the show. They’ve hit, they’ve run the bases, they’ve pitched and they’ve played defense like the ’85 Bears. Those last two things are why San Francisco is up 3-0. Through three World Series games, the Tigers are batting .165 with three extra-base hits. They have three runs, none of which have had any influence on the outcome of a baseball game.
The dirty little secret is that the Tigers didn’t go crazy at the plate in the first two rounds, either: .252/.293/.337 in the Division Series, .291/.341/.462 in the ALCS, which is a good but not dominant line. They averaged four runs a game in the first two rounds, and are now under that mark (3.25 r/g) for the postseason.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland won’t panic, and he shouldn’t. Frankly, most of the worst plans in history have begun with the idea that “we have to do something.” Leyland is managing a team that has played 174 games, and a three-game losing streak is no time to abandon the practices that got him to No. 175. Leyland, in fact, got a first-hand look at what panic can do a team; Yankees manager Joe Girardi did everything but start Rick Rhoden at DH in the ALCS. It didn’t puts runs on scoreboard, it just sold newspapers.
You can’t will hits. You can’t buy them, no matter how much you pay your players. Leyland knows this and will treat his players like the professionals they are.
As a practical matter, even if Leyland wanted to make changes, he couldn’t. His bench consists of three utility infielders, a backup catcher and a platoon outfielder. Shaking up the lineup would be pointless — what, you’re going to elevate Andy Dirks and his 0-fer at the expense of Prince Fielder’s buck-nothing average? This is a fixed roster that offers little in the way of tactical options, and forcing tactical intrigue just because the guys didn’t hit for three days . . . there’s a word for that, and it rhymes with “manic”.
Austin Jackson bats leadoff. Miguel Cabrera bats third. Prince Fielder bats fourth. Messing with that halfway through the World Series is amateur hour. If the Tigers get swept, it will be because the Giants’ pitchers and their defense were better for a week. There’s no shame in that.
– By Joe Sheehan