Tigers get back to winning formula
Solid defense, pitching mix with aggressive hitting to top Cards
DETROIT -- Detroit's 3-1 victory in Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday night at Comerica Park mirrored the Tigers' season: Great pitching, good defense and some power did the trick for the Tigers, though things got a little scary at the end."We definitely came back with our type of play tonight," Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "We were aggressive, we got great pitching and we came up with the plays. That's what got us here and that's what helped us get this win tonight." Granderson provided one of the defensive gems, making a nice sliding grab of a ball hit by Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen in the fourth. There were other fine plays, including a double play started by second baseman Placido Polanco in the eighth and a trio of catches by Detroit starter Kenny Rogers. "This is a very good defensive team," Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "We played much better defense tonight than [in Game 1] and [Rogers] pitched a great game and the home run [by Craig Monroe] gave him the lead. It was a very good game for us." Rogers pitched eight scoreless innings to keep the Cardinals at arm's length while the Tigers offense was effective if not overpowering. "We didn't exactly smash the ball all over the place," Granderson said. "But we did enough to get the job done." His teammates said Rogers' performance set the tone for the turnaround from the Game 1 loss, and Monroe's first-inning home run sent them on their way. "We thrive on Kenny's energy," designated hitter Sean Casey said. "Everybody sort of feeds off that. And when Craig hit that home run, it got us going. You give Kenny a lead the way he's pitching now, who wouldn't get a confidence boost?" Rogers ran his postseason streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 23, a franchise record and only four innings shy of the Major League record for a single postseason. Monroe's home run in the first was his second in as many at-bats and gave Detroit the lead for good. "He's really been swinging the bat good," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "I was a little concerned about it prior to the game because I think between Craig and [Polanco], I think they were only about 1-for-12 off Weaver. To see him jump-start us like that obviously made me feel pretty good." The Tigers offense that had been so anemic 24 hours earlier against St. Louis starter Anthony Reyes was back in form against Jeff Weaver in Game 2. Just as in Game 1, they didn't draw a lot of walks, but at least this time the Tigers hitters weren't popping everything up. Monroe reached base twice. Magglio Ordonez had a pair of hits, and Carlos Guillen had three hits and drove in a run. Casey contributed an RBI single, and Brandon Inge chipped in two singles. "I don't think we changed anything today," Monroe said. "We wanted to come out and be aggressive. We feel like that's got us to this point thus far, so why not continue to go up there and be aggressive?" Added Guillen: "The key, you know, we played tonight the same way we've been playing the whole year: Stay focused, you go hit, play good defense, don't try too much. I think that would be the key the whole year. You have to stay focused, don't try to do too much and enjoy this game." The Cardinals had the tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning, thanks to an error by closer Todd Jones. But Jones was able to wriggle out of the jam for the save and send the Tigers to St. Louis having split the first two games of the series. "It was more exciting at the end there than I'm sure our fans would have liked, but the important thing is we got the win," Jones said. "This was a big win for us."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.