World Series Game 4 preview: Giants at Tigers

Doug Pensinger

On the brink of elimination, the Tigers will try to extend their season as Max Scherzer faces Giants ace Matt Cain in game 4 of the World Series.

San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers

Series: 3-0, San Francisco

Time/Place: 8:00 p.m. broadcast, first pitch 8:15 p.m., Comerica Park

Ticket info: World Series tickets can be found at TiqIQ

SB Nation Blog: McCovey Chronicles

Media: FOX, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Max Scherzer

Baseball Reference preview

History:

The Tigers are making history, for all the wrong reasons. They are the first team to be shut out in consecutive World Series games since the 1966 Dodgers (who were shutout by the Orioles in games 2-4). Going back to 2006, the Tigers have lost 6 straight World Series games, tying an American League record. They have been held scoreless for 18 consecutive innings, and have 3 runs total. At least the Tigers won't hold the series record for scoring futility, having outscored those same 1966 Dodgers, 3-2.

History also tells us the Tigers are in a near hopeless situation. There have been 23 teams who have found themselves down 0-3 in the World Series. Only 3 managed to extend the series to a game 5, none won more than 1 game. The one team in baseball history to come back from an 0-3 deficit in a 7 game series is the 2004 Red Sox, and that was in the ALCS.

The Tigers will have to march into uncharted territory just to send the series back to San Francisco.

To create history, the Tigers can start by winning 1 game. That's exactly how they have to look at it, as doing so any other way makes their task appear overwhelming

Pitching:

The one positive in this series has been the Tigers' pitchers. Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez both pitched well enough to win. They deserved far, far better than being hung with World Series losses. The bullpen, save for a certain Potato, has been far from the train wreck it was predicted to be before the series.

The Tigers' fate now rides on the arm of Max Scherzer, who is 1-0 (and a Jose Valverde implosion away from a 2-0 record) with an 0.82 ERA in his 2 post season starts, allowing 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned. For the baseball pundits who say the Tigers would be better served by starting Justin Verlander on short rest either haven't seen Scherzer pitch or are just parroting lazy narratives. Down 0-3, it's all hands on deck, anyway.

Already behind the 8 ball, the Tigers will have to to jump start their moribund offense against the Giants' ace, Matt Cain. Cain hasn't been quite as good in the 2012 playoffs as he was in the regular season (3.52 ERA vs 2.79), but he was nails in game 7 of the NLCS, tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings.

Offensive offense:

The Tigers have been excellent in one phase of the game (pitching), OK in another (their unreliable defense has been a non-factor), and God awful in the 3rd. Their offense has been miserably bad.

Much of the credit has to go to the Giants' pitching staff, both the starters and bullpen have been great. Helping them considerably has been a revived Tim Lincecum, who has regained his Cy Young quality stuff in coming out of the bullpen.

But the World Series is just exacerbating the Tigers' offensive issues.The bats have been struggling all post season long, the only breakout game being game 4 of the ALCS. Yet until the World Series, the Tigers were able, with help from some timely hitting, to score just enough to win the American League.

Since the glorious sweep of the Yankees, the Tigers have stopped scoring, period. When you're being compared to the 1966 Dodgers' offense, you've hit rock damn bottom.

Fans who are looking for a scapegoat are going to point at Prince Fielder and his .100 batting average. But it's been a team failure. Save for Delmon Young (.300), Omar Infante and Austin Jackson (both hitting .333), the offense has been a complete and utter no-show. The Tigers have 15 hits in total, the above triumvirate has 10 of them.

Keep in mind, it's just not Fielder who has stopped hitting. Miguel Cabrera has a .222 average (and just 1 RBI), Alex Avila .143, Jhonny Peralta .091. Everyone else is hitting (if you can actually use the term "hitting") an ugly .000.

Peralta is the series in a nutshell. He leads the Tigers with 2 measly RBI and has hit their only home run. It's also his only hit of the series, and even then, it was in garbage time.

After going through the offensive carnage, I'm only half-joking when I say Scherzer has to throw a no-hitter to give the Tigers a shot at extending the series.

Fielder and Cabrera are too talented to write off completely. They are both capable of breaking out like gangbusters and hitting like Pablo Sandoval (FYI, Panda is hitting .636 with an insane 2.212 OPS). But if the big men can't get untracked in game 4, I'll be able to copy and paste my game 2 and 3 recaps into tonight's post.

At this point, the Tigers' strategy is a simple one. Score runs or they can start making tee times.

Prediction:

A wise bartender once said, "Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end."

The Tigers can't defeat history or the Giants, as the season comes to a bad, sad end.

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