Vogelsong will try to cool off Tigers in their home park

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Vogelsong will try to cool off Tigers in their home park

DETROIT The Giants ride into chilly, gray Comerica Parkcarrying a franchise-best five-game postseason winning streak in which theyveoutscored their opponents 30-4.

Yet the Detroit Tigers have their own streak eightconsecutive home victories and manager Jim Leyland finally gets to run outhis lineup against a right-handed starter.

Thats no small detail: The Tigers were 62-49 againstright-handed starters and their two heavies, Miguel Cabrera and PrinceFielder, hit 64 of their 74 home runs against righty pitchers.

Nothing on the matchup sheet could make the Giants regretsending Ryan Vogelsong to the mound for Game 3, though. Vogelsong has been theGiants best starting pitcher this postseason both in terms of stuff andresults. His hard two-seamer and sharp offspeed pitches allowed him to match adominant, 10-strikeout, one-hit start from the Reds Homer Bailey in Game 3 ofthe NLDS at Cincinnati the first of six elimination victories that the Giantshad to reel off to claim the NL pennant.

Now the Giants are playing from ahead. Theyll sendVogelsong in search of a 3-0 lead in the World Series, and in addition toCabrera and Fielder, hell have to concentrate on Omar Infante. Thetable-setting infielder is 7 for 11 (all singles) in his career againstVogelsong. No other Tigers hitter has faced him more than six times; Cabreraand Fielder have combined to go 1 for 8 with a walk and two strikeouts.

The Tigers have more speed in their lineup with QuintinBerry in the outfield, but Vogelsong might be the Giants best starting pitcherat holding runners.

The Tigers will counter with right-hander Anibal Sanchez,who has dominated the Giants in three starts at AT&T Park (3-0, 0.36 ERA)but hasnt been so good elsewhere.

Sanchez, whom the Tigers acquired from the Miami Marlins,got pounded when he faced the Giants May 24 at Marlins Park. He allowed fiveruns on seven hits and two walks in 5 13 innings. Vogelsong started that gameand received the victory in a 14-7 win.

Sanchez has to be elated that the Giants didnt add MelkyCabrera to their World Series roster. Cabrera is 8 for 15 lifetime off Sanchez,and although hes eligible now that hes served his 50-game suspension forflunking a performance-enhancing drug test, the Giants decided to avoid thedistraction of bringing him back at any point in the postseason.

Giants leadoff man Angel Pagan is 6 for 23 with threedoubles off Sanchez; Gregor Blanco is 4 for 7 with a home run. DH HectorSanchez will be facing Anibal Sanchez for the first time. (Giants DHs had justone RBI in nine interleague games during the regular season.)

Although most of his numbers are similar from a year ago,Sanchezs strikeout rate dropped from 9.26 per nine innings last year to 7.68this year and hes pitching in the postseason for the first time, too.

Early scoring makes all the difference for the Giants, who haventblown a lead after the third inning all postseason.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.