Vogelsong, the 35-year-old whose journey includes stops in Japan and releases in mid-season, wasn’t quite as sharp as he had been in his most recent start, seven innings in which he allowed one run and struck out nine in Game 6 of the NLCS. With one out in the third, he gave up back-to-back singles. All that stood between him and Cabrera and Fielder was Berry.
But the crowd hardly had the chance to get into the moment. Berry chopped at Vogelsong’s first pitch, an easy double play. The 2-0 lead felt, at that moment, like 10-0.
Yet in the fifth, Vogelsong granted the Tigers a can’t-miss opportunity, loading the bases with one out. Vogelsong came at Berry with a 2-2 fastball, and Berry swung through it.
That brought up Cabrera, his first true chance to change the series. He swung at the first pitch, and sent a blooper over first base. It fell a few feet foul. At 0-1, he hacked at another fastball.
“Right now, he’s the best hitter in the game,” Vogelsong said. “I was just trying to make pitches there.”
That’s what he did, and there was that effect again, emphatically — pfffffft! Cabrera popped to short. The Tigers left the bases loaded.
“We’re not going to talk about one at-bat taking away how great Miguel Cabrera is,” Leyland said.
Fine, because there would be another. In the eighth, with Lincecum on the mound, Cabrera led off with a grounder that — in another game, in another series — might have been ticketed for center field. Crawford, the Giants’ shortstop, instead dived and snared it. He easily retired Cabrera at first.
So it was left to Fielder. His at-bat represented the series for these two stars. He took a slider for strike one. He took a fastball for strike two. And when Lincecum came back with a change-up in the dirt, Fielder bit. That strikeout might not have ended the game, but it served as another demoralizing chapter in the sorry tales of the Tigers’ two most dangerous hitters, their offseason approaching rapidly.