They say that the Christian God is an impartial deity. However, this leaves room for the gods of sport to make their influence known as they see put. And in this World Series, it would seem that the baseball gods are Giants fans.
There is much to talk about from Game 2. Specifically Madison Bumgarner pulling a Barry Zito and letting his postseason problems fall to the wayside with a dominating seven inning performance. Shutting out the Tigers is no small change, even given Detroit’s extended layoff. Though he never threw harder than 92 mph, Bumgarner gave the Tigers’ hitters fits all night long. In addition, his pitching through the 7th inning allowed Tim Lincecum to obtain crucial rest, leaving him able to start Game 4 or 5 if manager Bruce Bochy deems it necessary. (Yes, yes, the more dominant of the two bullpens is now fully rested. This should be followed by the hash-tag #firstworldproblems)
Nor can Doug Fister’s gutty performance be discounted. Not only did he pitch six tough innings, mostly shutting down the Giants’ relentless hitting attack, he rebounded from a horrifying blow received from the bat of Gregor Blanco in the 3rd inning. Striking him directly on the side of the head, the ball rebounded into center field for a hit. Fister, apparently unfazed, refused to come out. The audio microphone clipped to the home plate umpire overheard his refusal: “It’s San Francisco. Game Two. I’m not coming out.” Say what you will about the team’s failure to show in Game One, these Tigers are not going down swinging.
(Then again, they might. Bumgarner recorded eight strikeouts on the night.)
The only runs by the Giants came during the 7th and 8th innings. The first was aided by a bunt by Blanco in the bottom of the 7th that refused to go foul and loaded the bases, despite the insistence of Tigers catcher Gerald Laird. Here is where it seems as though the Baseball Gods favor the Giants; such plays echo throughout the annals of World Series history. The ball through Buckner’s leg. Carlton Fisk’s Game 6 home run in ’75. The shoe polish game in ’69. The Gods shine favorably upon certain teams in the World Series. Though Brandon Crawford grounded into a double play in the next at-bat, it was enough to drive in the deciding run. The next run came on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Pence, the only RBI of the night.
The Tigers may have not had to worry about such things had a pair of base running gaffes not cost them at least one run. In the top of the second inning, Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch and was standing on first base when Delmon Young slapped a double past the arm of Pablo Sandoval. Ricocheting into left field, Fielder was waved around third and began chugging home. The throw from Blanco, relayed by 2nd baseman Marco Scutaro, was dead on target to catcher Buster Posey, perfectly positioned on the inside part of the base line. Fielder was tagged out, just short of the plate. Though Fielder is an outstanding athlete, he is not the most fleet of foot, and would have been better served holding at 3rd base. Granted, such decisions are easy in hindsight; however, making the first out of an inning is inexcusable so early in the game, and given Bumgarner’s struggles in prior games. The rally was killed before it even started, and Bumgarner never let up after that point.
(Kudos must go to the umpiring crew tonight as well. There were several close calls during the game, and they nailed all of them without a moment’s hesitation. Be glad that MLB does not have to deal with the issue of ‘replacement umps’.)
Later on in the top of the 4th inning, Omar Infante broke for second base just a tad early, allowing Bumgarner to pick him off, ending what would turn out to be the last shot of the Tigers to score.
Baserunning gaffes aside, the Tigers bats were limp and listless tonight. Cabrera and Fielder were a combined 0-4 with one walk, while the only hits on the night were by Young and Infante during the aforementioned trials on the base paths. While the Giants did not possess the same pop as during Game One, they didn’t need it tonight. Bumgarner was that good.
The Series now moves to Detroit with San Francisco up by 2 games. While a change of scenery might be helpful for the Tigers, the Giants’ rotation is turning back to Ryan Vogelsong, one of the Giants’ most reliable starters this season, followed by Matt Cain. You know, the guy that threw a perfect game and started the All-Star game this year. Meanwhile, the Tigers counter with Anibal Sanchez to try and salvage their chances at coming back in this Series.
However, given the Baseball Gods favoring the Giants, Detroit’s chances look bleak once more.