Friday, October 26, 2012

World Series Game 2 - Bumgarner's Redemption

Even after a shocking Game 1 victory, I thought we needed a 2-0 series lead before heading for 3 straight games in Detroit in order to win it.  Chances were, the Tigers would win at least 2 of those 3 games at home, and we definitely didn't want to play 2 elimination games again, even if they were at home.  (What are the odds of winning 8 straight elimination games in a single postseason?)  For that reason, I was hoping that Bochy would send Lincecum and not Bumgarner out to the mound for Game 2 instead of using Timmy as Game 1 relief.

Yes, I know that Bumgarner threw 8 shutout innings in Game 4 of the 2010 WS, becoming the youngest starter to ever win a WS game.  But in Bumgarner's last 9 starts before Game 2, he had lost 6 times and given up 34 combined runs.  September was his worst month of the season as he finished with his highest ERA, 5.47.  In the 2 playoff games coming in, he had pitched a combined 8 innings and given up 10 runs, both in losses.  So, he's not exactly the hot pitcher you want in such a pivotal game against a Tigers team just itching to get back to their smashmouth ways.

In 162 regular season games, Detroit had only been shut-out 2 times.  TWICE.  So there's a 1.2% chance that they will be shut-out any given game.  Even less with Bumgarner in his current form.

There was a scare in the 2nd inning when Fielder strangely tried to score from 1st on a Young double.  He was thrown out at the plate as TV replays conclusively confirmed Buster's timely tag.  It was just the 1st out.  It was the kind of mistake that the Giants' haven't been making.

After that hiccup, Madison proceeds to finish 7 shut-out innings.  Only 2 hits and 2 walks.  No extra-base hits.  8 strike-outs.  With Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo shutting down the 8th and 9th innings, the Giants took a commanding 2-0 lead.

Though the Giants went toe to toe in Game 1 with Panda's historic long-ball performance, they managed to score just two runs in Game 2 with the typical grind-it-out small-ball that they have become so good at.  Scoreless until bottom 7th, Pence led off with an unlikely single.  Belt walked.  Then came a SF signature moment of the game.

Blanco's sacrifice bunt bumbled 40 feet just inside the 3rd baseline while three Tigers huddled around it, waiting for it to roll foul.  It never did.  In fact, to Detroit's horror, it came to a dead stop on the dirt inside the chalk line.  I'm not sure I can remember the last time I saw a bunt do that.  Bases loaded.  No outs.  UCLA alum and lifelong Giants fan Brandon Crawford had the game-winning RBI, even though he hit into a double play.  It was the best double play hit I've ever seen.

In the Giants' 8th, Detroit walked the bases full and Pence hit a RBI sac fly to seal it.

Of the 52 teams previously to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series, 41 have gone on to win it all.  That's 79%.  Thanks to Bumgarner, for the first time in the Giants' 2012 postseason, I like our chances.

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