Giants blank Tigers in second straight game, move within one win of World Series championship

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Giants righty Ryan Vogelsong wasn’t especially sharp, allowing five hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings, but he kept the Tigers scoreless and his bullpen continued that pattern of zeroes as San Francisco won Game 3 of the World Series 2-0 on Saturday in Detroit to take a 3-0 Fall Classic lead.

Tim Lincecum was again dominant in mid-relief, yielding no hits and fanning three in 2 1/3 innings before handing the ball over to Sergio Romo for the save. Lincecum now has a stellar 0.69 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 13 innings as a reliever this postseason.

Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez had one shaky inning but was otherwise good, surrendering only two runs in seven total frames while punching out eight and walking only one. But his offense was of no help.

Miguel Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years and the likely American League MVP, finished 1-for-4 and left three runners on base. He’s batting just .267 with a .765 OPS in these playoffs. Prince Fielder was also listless, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts while watching his postseason slash line plummet to .188/.250/.250. The big man has just one home run and three RBI since the playoffs began.

In all, the Tigers left 14 runners on base. And they weren’t able to manage a single extra-base hit.

As the Detroit batting order continued to sputter, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval padded his World Series MVP case with a double and a single. He’s two hits shy of the all-time postseason hits record, shared by David Freese (2011), Darin Erstad (2002) and Marquis Grissom (1995).

San Francisco can win it all on Sunday night when Matt Cain duels the Tigers’ Max Scherzer.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.