Tigers' offensive woes continue vs. lefties

Tigers' offensive woes continue vs. lefties

SAN FRANCISCO -- The glaring storyline these Tigers were so quick to dismiss heading into the World Series is almost undeniable now, while facing an 0-2 hole because they couldn't figure out the soft-tossing Giants lefties that have taken the mound these last two nights.

World Series

That long layoff really is affecting them, specifically on the offensive side.

It was evident in Wednesday's Game 1, as Barry Zito held them scoreless through the first five innings with a mid-80s fastball that led to an 8-3 loss. And it was evident in Thursday's Game 2, when a previously reeling Madison Bumgarner breezed through seven shutout innings to hand them a 2-0 defeat.

It's so evident now, even Miguel Cabrera can't help but admit it.

Offensive offense
Performance of the Tigers' lineup by series
Series Gms Avg. Rank R Rank
LDS 5 .252 3 of 8 17 4 of 8
LCS 4 .291 1 of 4 19 2 of 4
WS 2 .167 2 of 2 3 2 of 2

"We didn't want to think negatively that it was going to affect us, but in reality, I think it's a factor that's costing us now," Cabrera said in Spanish. "We're not playing with the same rhythm we had before.

"I'm hoping we can get back in our rhythm. Hopefully, it's not too late."

Perhaps it's not, but each of the last eight teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series have won it all.

Bumgarner had given up 10 earned runs in eight postseason innings heading in, but he looked like a different pitcher against the Tigers' out-of-sync batting order. He gave up two hits and two walks, struck out eight and needed only 86 pitches to record 21 outs. One runner got in scoring position, and only four balls left the infield.

The Giants manufactured runs in the seventh and eighth, and after Bumgarner, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo finished the game with a clean inning each, marking the second time in team history -- and the first time since Game 3 of the 1945 Fall Classic against the Cubs -- that the Tigers have registered no more than two hits in a World Series game.

HIT CHARADE
Thursday night's Game 2 tied for the sixth fewest total hits ever in a World Series game: 7
Year Game Winner (hits) Loser (hits) Total hits
1921 Game 2 Yankees (3) Giants (2) 5
1956 Game 5 Yankees (5) Dodgers (0) 5
1995 Game 1 Braves (3) Indians (2) 5
1906 Game 3 White Sox (4) Cubs (2) 6
1948 Game 1 Braves (2) Indians (4) 6
1919 Game 5 Reds (4) White Sox (3) 7
1949 Game 1 Yankees (5) Dodgers (2) 7
1950 Game 1 Yankees (5) Phillies (2) 7
1963 Game 3 Dodgers (4) Yankees (3) 7
1972 Game 3 Reds (4) A's (3) 7
1995 Game 6 Braves (6) Indians (1) 7
2012 Game 2 Giants (5) Tigers (2) 7

Now it only gets harder, with the Giants' two best pitchers, right-handers Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain, on tap with the series shifting to Detroit for Game 3 on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8:07 ET first pitch).

"I don't have any perspective -- we got two hits tonight," said Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, whose team has struggled to hit soft-tossing lefties all year. "I'm certainly not going to sit up here and rip my offense, because last night I thought we had some pretty good swings."

Postgame, in a solemn visiting clubhouse, Tigers players were quick to credit Bumgarner, who had late life on his fastball and a sharp slider to keep them off balance.

"Look at their numbers over a season," Delmon Young said. "They got good pitching. The Giants have always been known to have good arms."

Several others took note of the good at-bats they've had and the bad luck that has followed. Like the two catches Gregor Blanco made in Game 1, or the bullet line drive from Cabrera that Pablo Sandoval snared with one on in the fourth in Game 2.

"We hit some balls pretty good," leadoff hitter Austin Jackson said. "We just couldn't get anything to fall when we needed it."

Others noted the opportunities they couldn't capitalize on, especially when Prince Fielder was thrown out trying to score from first on Young's double to left field in the second inning, and when Omar Infante was picked off with two outs in the fourth.

"It just is what it is," Fielder said. "If you dwell on it, it'll continue to happen."

No matter the reason, though, the Tigers should simply be producing a lot more than they have.

In 162 regular-season games, they were shut out only twice -- less than any other team in the Majors. The last time they were blanked in the World Series was Game 3 in '06 against the Cardinals.

The Tigers had six days off going into that Series, which they lost in five games.

They had five days off heading into this one.

"It has a lot [of impact]," backup catcher Gerald Laird admitted. "When you lose the speed of the game, it's tough to get back to it right away. But you hate to make excuses, and that's no excuse. [The Giants are] playing good baseball right now, and that's the bottom line. We ran into a really hot team, but we get to go home now, where we've played our best baseball of the year, and I like our chances."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.