Shoe is on other foot as Tigers face Series sweep

Shoe is on other foot as Tigers face Series sweep

DETROIT -- On Oct. 18, Max Scherzer started for the Tigers and devastated the Yankees with his changeup. Detroit won the American League pennant, and the Bronx Bombers were forced into a winter of answering questions after their vaunted offense was shut down in an AL Championship Series sweep.

On Sunday, Scherzer will start for the Tigers in another possible Game 4 clincher, only this time he will try to help his team avoid a sweep. There is a complete role reversal under way at the 108th World Series, with the same type of questions being asked 10 days later.

Is this Giants pitching staff that masterful? Do you tip your cap to Barry Zito, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong, then brace yourself for Matt Cain? Or does that 3-for-19 (.158) struggle by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder represent an overall offense gone cold?

World Series

The Giants have a 3-0 Series lead following their second consecutive shutout on Saturday after the action shifted to Comerica Park, and throughout the Tigers' clubhouse, that theme of a sudden series-to-series 180 began to rear its ugly head, with players grasping for theories.

"After you sweep the Yankees, it's really hard to see what's going on right now," said Anibal Sanchez, who only allowed two runs but had zero support in Game 3. "Three-zero behind, it's not something anyone waited for. Everybody tried to see more baseball."

"I don't even know how to answer that," said Austin Jackson, the former Yanks outfielder. "It's just baseball. You keep playing. That's all you can do. That's where we're at right now."

San Francisco is just the second team to win the first three games of a World Series, have its starters register each victory and allow no more than one run in each game, joining the 1937 Yankees. Detroit is the first team to be shut out in consecutive games of the same World Series since the Dodgers were blanked in Games 2-4 in 1966 against Baltimore.

The Yankees were loaded with offense when they went into the ALCS against the Tigers, and even if a Robinson Cano was struggling, there surely was enough depth of offense to overcome and create a compelling series. But everyone around the Yanks was shocked at what happened -- a shutdown on a grand scale, Alex Rodriguez being removed for a pinch-hitter, and then even miracle-worker Raul Ibanez unable to come through in the end.

Now it feels like the shoe is on exactly the other foot. Opponent's hot pitching or your cold bats? Or both? The same clubhouse questions were going to these guys instead of those guys.

"I mean, I'm not shocked. That's baseball," Tigers right fielder Andy Dirks said. "If you've been around the game long enough, you know you're going to struggle at points. There are times where you can score nine at will, and then there are times where one run is hard to come by.

"It's been like that for us the whole postseason. There's a lot of good pitching. That's why teams are here, and we're just going to continue to battle, and this is already in the past for us."

Quintin Berry started in left field in Game 3, and he expressed disappointment for failing to come through in some key at-bats.

"They're playing some good baseball. You can't take anything from them," Berry said of the Giants. "Their pitchers are doing a good job mixing it up and using that strike zone at any point with any pitches they want. They're playing great defense. [Third baseman Pablo] Sandoval is over there making great plays. Things are clicking for them right now. We've just got to get things clicking for us."

Scherzer will be back on the mound Sunday for the first time since the Tigers last popped champagne corks. They had four homers behind him that day. Detroit could use some of that offense now.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.