DETROIT — Unless something even more remarkable happens, this World Series will end in the next day or two, and we will be left with a lingering question:
Were the Giants really this good, or were the Tigers this bad?
Because after Saturday night, when the Giants won 2-0 to take a three games to none lead, it seemed like it had to be one or the other.
The Giants did it Saturday in what seems to be their typical style — not flashy, not overpowering, but successful. They scored a couple of runs early, on a Hunter Pence walk, a Gregor Blanco triple and a Brandon Crawford single in the second. And then they rode out another strong showing from their pitching staff, starter Ryan Vogelsong to converted reliever Tim Lincecum to closer Sergio Romo, to post the first back-to-back Series shutouts since 1966, when the Orioles blanked the Dodgers three times.
"I'll say this, the club is playing well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
And with one more victory — and four chances to get it, starting tonight with ace Matt Cain on the mound — they will be World Series champions, for the second time in three seasons.
"We're up 3-0; they've got to beat us four times in a row," Romo said. "So do I like our chances, of course. But anything's possible, so we're definitely not going to sleep on them."
Technically, anyway. And the Giants can look at their own postseason run for a cautionary tale, as they came back from 0-2 to beat the Reds in the best-of-five Division Series, and from 1-3 to beat the Cardinals in the best-of-seven NLCS. But none of the 23 teams down 3-0 have ever come back to win a World Series, and only three even got to a Game 5.
The Giants thus far have made the Tigers look very much like an 88-win team — two fewer than the Rays, in case you forgot — that struggled to win the middling American League Central.
How badly are the Tigers going? In sweeping the Yankees out of the AL Championship Series, they never trailed. In the first three games of the World Series, they've never led and are hitting a measly .165, with three runs on 15 hits. (Or maybe the better question is, how bad were the Yankees?)
"We'd love to be swinging the bats great but all postseason we haven't really swung the bats," Tigers DH Delmon Young said. "We hit at the right time against Oakland, and New York looked like us right now. When you're not putting up any runs, it's a little bit easier to win if you score one."
Having been shut out only twice in 162 regular-season games, the Tigers have been blanked three times in 12 postseason games.
Though Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (who popped out with the bases loaded in the fifth) and Prince Fielder (double-play grounder in the first) did not come through several times Saturday — hitting a combined .158 (3-for-19) for the Series — manager Jim Leyland insisted it has been a collective failure.
"Obviously a lot of people struggle when you only get five hits and you don't score any runs," he said. "We don't point fingers at anybody in particular; we say as a team tonight we didn't get it done."
The Giants were obviously a big part of that, between their pitching and their defense.
"It's hard to score runs with that kind of combination," Crawford said. "Our pitchers are doing a great job. They're coming up big in big situations."
Vogelsong, the 35-year-old journeyman who bounced among 15 teams on three continents over 14 seasons, added another 52/3 shutout innings to his stellar postseason, giving him a 1.09 ERA. That's not far off the record 1.05 posted by Orel Hershiser in 1988 for the Dodgers.
Counterpart Sanchez didn't fare much worse, allowing the two runs on six hits and the walk over his seven innings.
Giants 3, Tigers 0
Game 1: Giants 8, Tigers 3
Game 2: Giants 2, Tigers 0
Saturday: Giants 2, Tigers 0
Tonight: at Detroit, 8:15
Monday: at Detroit, 8:07 *
Wednesday: at San Francisco, 8:07 *
Thursday: at San Francisco, 8:07 *
TV: Ch. 13 * if necessary