Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis will be offering his analysis of the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers throughout the World Series. Always known for his defense, Ellis batted .270 and led the Dodgers in walks this season, his first full year as a starter.
A couple of years ago, I lockered near a very respected and well-decorated ballplayer, who offered personal insight into why it's difficult to win a World Series playing for a Southern California team. In a word, comfort. Those of us who play for the Dodgers, Angels and Padres are very spoiled playing in the bottom quarter of the Golden State. I might not totally agree, but I could see his point as I saw players in long sleeves, sweatshirts and jackets in Game 3.
Including road games at Petco Park in San Diego and domed Chase Field in Arizona, the Dodgers play almost 100 games in best weather in the country. Teams based in other parts of the country have to play in the cold in April and September. They also have to deal with the Midwestern heat in July and August. My veteran teammate's argument was that teams that endure these elements are toughened by them.
Look at the past two World Series. Last year, the Cardinals, who play in overheated St. Louis, defeated the Rangers, who call scorched Texas home. This year, the two league champions compete in frigid conditions for parts of their seasons. Some of the coldest nights of my life have been in June and July in San Francisco. By about the seventh inning, all you can think about is getting in a hot tub to defrost.
While I appreciate my former teammate's analysis, we plan on debunking his theory in the near future.
Player of the game
Ryan Vogelsong wasn't as sharp as he was in the National League Championship Series, but he gutted his way through 52/3 innings. He didn't locate his fastball with his usual command but used an effective changeup to get ahead and even up counts.
Vogelsong made big pitches all night long. He stopped the Tigers' momentum in its tracks with rally-killing double-play balls in the first and third innings. In the biggest at-bat of the game, he forced Miguel Cabrera to pop up with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning.
It takes role players to win championships. So far this series, Gregor Blanco has made an impact for the Giants with his bat and glove. He had two diving catches in Game 1. He started a relay that cut down Prince Fielder at the plate and laid down a perfect bunt to that led to the first run in Game 2. And he tripled home the first run of Game 3.
Something that bears repeating: Tim Lincecum's transition to shut-down reliever has filled a huge hole for the Giants.
My athleticism/dexterity was challenged tonight, as I toggled channels between Game 3 and Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are a polarizing team and school, but college football and sports are better when they are putting a winner on the field.
Game 4 preview
Giants ace Matt Cain takes the hill against Max Scherzer of the Tigers. Cain can throw any pitch in any count while Scherzer relies heavily on the late life of his power fastball. It's an obvious must-win for the Tigers, who will do whatever they can to give ace Justin Verlander another start in Game 5.