Giants' road to destiny just can't be stopped
SAN FRANCISCO -- They should stop this World Series right now.
Sure, there's a long way to go, but for the Tigers to win, they must not only stall the rampaging Giants, but also a hidden force from above that seems to be guiding the National League champions.
It's as if they're playing on a giant Parcheesi board. Some of the twists and turns that are making them so successful might not be of their own making.
From the moment the Cardinals built their 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series last week, the Giants have been under a spell.
Not only did San Francisco daze Detroit, 8-3, on Wednesday night, but the Giants did it against the invincible Justin Verlander.
It's Verlander, 2011's AL MVP Award and AL Cy Young Award winner, whom experts said would give the Tigers at least two wins in this 108th Fall Classic and stop the runaway train that has been the Giants this postseason.
They've won four straight now, beginning when the Giants were supposed to be toast at the hands of the Cards. Of course, they won six consecutive elimination games and carried that momentum to Game 1 of this World Series.
"I'm a guy that doesn't believe in momentum in baseball," Detroit skipper Jim Leyland said during Wednesday night's postmortems. "I think momentum is your next day's pitcher."
Maybe, but ...
It's as if this postseason has been willed to the Giants.
When Verlander left after four shaky innings, it marked his shortest outing not related to weather since June 16, 2009, when he lasted just four innings against the Cardinals.
Consider this: Since they were staring elimination in their faces when the Cards won their third NLCS game, the Giants have outscored their opponents, 28-4.
You just cannot figure out these Giants. They spotted the Reds two wins in the NL Division Series, then blitzed them in the next three to extend their October journey.
The first-game World Series winner has gone on to win the championship 66 times and 13 of the past 15.
The way the Giants are moving toward the finish line is uncanny.
For someone who's reporting on his 48th World Series, I keep saying, "I haven't seen that before" or "Can you believe that?"
Pablo Sandoval -- who joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as players who've slugged three homers in a World Series game -- hit No. 1 with two outs in the first inning before many in the hysterical crowd of 42,855 had found their seats at AT&T Park.
If Reggie is truly Mr. October, the Giants are the "Team of October."
After a perfect second inning and with two down in the third, Verlander seemed to be finding a groove. But Angel Pagan fouled off seven pitches before drilling a scorching grounder just inside the third-base line that Miguel Cabrera seemed poised to glove and throw the runner out. Instead, the ball hit the corner of the bag and caromed past Cabrera into left field.
Pagan ended up on second base with a double. NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro followed with a single up the middle. Sandoval then blistered a 2-0 Verlander pitch for his second homer and a 4-0 San Francisco lead.
Yet had Pagan's ball not bounced off third base, chances are Verlander would have been out of the inning. Or, as Verlander put it, the way the ball bounced was good for the Giants.
"And that was bad for us," he said.
But Pagan's double typifies the way the ball has been bouncing all postseason for San Francisco.
Remember when Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn threw wildly to second base on a ball that went into center field in the fourth inning of a scoreless tie in Game 5? That opened the door for four unearned runs and the Giants won, 5-0, to send the NLCS back to San Francisco.
Or in the seventh and deciding game Monday, when Hunter Pence's third-inning broken-bat grounder spun past shortstop Pete Kozma into left field for three runs. The Giants scored five runs in that inning en route to their 9-0 romp.
Wonder what would have happened had baseball's higher forces not been in play?
On Wednesday night, left fielder Gregor Blanco saved at least two runs when he made sensational diving catches on Cabrera's sinking liner in the third and Prince Fielder's liner with Cabrera on first base in the sixth.
It didn't stop there.
A bizarre double play in the fourth took the Tigers out of a would-be productive inning.
Fielder opened with a single to center, but Delmon Young hit a ball that bounced in front of home plate. Catcher Buster Posey quickly fielded the ball, reached back and tagged Young before throwing to second base to complete the double play.
Toss in an RBI single by winning pitcher Barry Zito in the fourth and you have a vivid idea of how the ball has been bouncing this postseason for the Giants.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy probably summed it up best: "Well, you know, it's hard to figure this game sometimes. You hear the old adage, 'That's baseball.'"
For the Giants, it's an eerie brand of baseball that's making this postseason intriguing, if not unbelievable.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.