The San Francisco Giants aren’t used to being in this position, but they’ll take it. They defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0, and now hold to a two games to none lead in the World Series.
The World Series. Two games to none. I’ll give all of us (including myself) a moment to process this.
This was a little closer to what one would expect from a World Series game. Runs tough to come by, the outcome in doubt until the very end. Except the Giants were never on the ropes in this one, unless you count the second inning when Gene LaMont sent Prince Fielder. Luckily for the Giants, Marco Scutaro (the second baseman) took Gregor Blanco’s throw near third base and fired a relay that allowed Buster Posey to take Prince Fielder out at home.
That swipe tag may have bothered A.J. Pierzynski even more than the Tigers at the time, but Detroit never mounted another rally. They didn’t even sniff a rally. Madison Bumgarner wouldn’t allow it through seven, then Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo pitched a perfect inning each.
In the minutes before Game 1 started, Fox showed the matchups and placed check marks next to five parts of the game: starting pitching, relief pitching, defense, speed, and power. The Giants got one check mark each next to bullpen, defense and speed, while the Tigers got a check mark next to power and TWO check marks next to starting pitching.
Giants: Hey national media, do you like apples?
National media: Yeah.
Giants: Well, Zito and Bumgarner just outpitched the Tigers’ best two starters. How do you like them apples?
This postseason has been wild and all sorts of fun for the Giants, but it seemed incomplete without an outing like this from Bumgarner. After how he pitched against the Rangers in 2010, the idea that Bumgarner would look lousy in two outings and then get shelved until 2013 seemed so wrong. Not Bumgarner, one of the nastiest pitchers in the game.
Don’t let the quietness fool you. When Bumgarner insults his teammates in the clubhouse, his daggers come straight and they pierce the skin. And when Bumgarner’s on his game — and he’s on his game about 95% of the time — his pitches aren’t straight and they miss bats.
The Tigers have to wonder what the hell happened. One lefty comes in throwing mid-80s and they couldn’t do a thing. The other throws a bunch of 88-90 mph fastballs around the letters and the outcome is even worse. We’ve focused on Bumgarner’s velocity since his struggles started after Aug. 20, and there wasn’t any noticeable improvement in that area during Game 2.
So how did he get the Tigers to swing and miss 13 times and strike out eight times?
“I could definitely see some adjustments that he made. I thought his direction was a lot better. He was more north and south than side to side,” said Buster Posey.
Mike Krukow said that Bumgarner took a significant amount of “turn” out of his delivery. What does that mean? Against the Cardinals, Bumgarner’s upper body would twist extremely far to the left at the beginning of his motion, to the point where the letters on his jersey were almost directly facing second base before he went to the plate. Against the Tigers, they took about “about eight inches of turn” from his stretch delivery, so that instead of the letters on his jersey facing second base, they’d face the second baseman before Bumgarner turned back toward home.
The point: Bumgarner isn’t broken. As a matter of fact, he broke the Tigers.
— Offensively, this game was all about Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco. And the weird, wonderful saga continues…
— Pence had the single that started the first run-scoring rally, and hit the sacrifice fly that drove in run No. 2.
— It’s hard to say which bunt for a base hit was more ridiculous, magical, whatever — Barry Zito’s in St. Louis or Blanco’s tonight. Zito’s was completely unexpected, but Blanco’s just … sat there. It also led to this fantastic reaction (via @gidget) from the home plate umpire (who seemed to be channeling an Aussie Rules referee).
— Poor Doug Fister. Takes a line drive off the dome and gets the loss due to a that’s-so-Giants “ground attack” rally.
— I know I’m not the only one who found it shocking that, with head injuries garnering more attention by the day and Brandon McCarthy nearly dying less than two months ago, Fister was allowed to continue pitching. You have to respect Fister, though. He wasn’t the reason the Tigers lost Game 2. Not even close.
— In a related note, don’t be surprised when Brian Sabean signs Fister in 2016.
— If the American League is so much better than the National League, how come the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup is so completely forgettable?
— Here’s the motion I’ll make if anyone offers me a free taco from Toxic Hell (via @gidget):
Thanks for the Doritos Locos, Angel Pagan. I guess.
— The Giants’ defense was great during their 2010 run, and it actually seems better now.
— (Repetitive theme alert) After what this team looked like in the field from March through May, their improvement is both insane and a tribute to the coaching staff.
— While we’re on the subject, Bruce Bochy keeps making all these opposing managers look like Ron Washington. What was Jim Leyland doing leaving Drew Smyly in as long as he did? Bochy. Only possible reason.
— In case you couldn’t tell the difference between Posey and Brian Wilson (it’s tough, I know), this .GIF from @carmenkiew should help clear things up.
— Romo’s slider right now … holy hell. He was leaving balls up against the Reds and never really paid for it, but now he’s the sick, disgusting, destructive Romo that we know and love so well. And he’s giving amazing in-game interviews to Fox where he actually makes Joe Buck and Tim McCarver seem human (helped in part by his teammates giving him a sunflower seed shower, via @carmenkiew):
I think my days of talking to Romo alone in the clubhouse and showing him pictures on my phone of him sneering at the Dodgers are over. He’s about to become a full-fledged celebrity if it hasn’t happened already, and I couldn’t be happier for him.
— Apparently my wife (given two tickets through work, contingent on one of them going to a client and not yours truly) ended up sitting by Sergio Romo’s family. The Romo clan danced their butts off when Sergio’s song played over the AT&T Park speakers, and Romo’s dad cried after the game.