Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 win in Game 2

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Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 win in Game 2

BOX SCORE
SAN FRANCISCO Pick your misery.Take Scott Spiezio, if you like. Or Salomon Torres. Pile together Jose Cruz Jr. near the line, Pudge Rodriguez holding a white baseball aloft or Bobby Richardson lunging to snare the final out at second base.The Giants erased so much of it in 2010. Theyre standing at the blackboard again.They hold a two-game edge in the World Series over the Detroit Tigers following a masterful night of pitching by Messrs. Madison Bumgarner and Co. in a 2-0 victory Thursday at AT&T Park.In an out-making fest in Game 2, the difference lay in what each club did with them. The Giants turned a double-play grounder from Brandon Crawford into one run in the seventh inning, then scored another in the eighth on Hunter Pences sacrifice fly.The Tigers, meanwhile, turned one of their two hits into a painful, wasteful out in the second inning. Detroit third base coach Gene Lamont sent Prince Fielder barreling home from first base on Delmon Youngs double, only to be cut down by second baseman Marco Scutaros smart relay throw and catcher Buster Poseys adept swipe tag.The Giants head to Detroit with high beams on, but the sedan is far from assembled. Teams that hit the road after winning the first two World Series games at home captured the championship on 29 of 36 occasions.The Giants also extended their postseason winning streak to five games the longest in franchise history.Starting pitching reportGiants pitching coach Dave Righetti was confident that Bumgarner figured something out in his side sessions after being bumped from the NLCS rotation. Righettis confidence was all manager Bruce Bochy needed.Bumgarner rewarded all parties. Despite leaving some 89-mph fastballs over the plate, he mixed location and eye level enough to keep the Tigers off balance and had much more bite on his slider while holding them to two hits in seven shutout innings.Combined with his Halloween night start in Game 4 of the World Series two years ago, Bumgarner became the first Giant to toss back-to-back World Series starts without allowing a run since Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson in 1905. He also became the first major league pitcher to begin his World Series career with 15-plus scoreless innings since Bostons Bruce Hurst in 1986.He struck out eight his most in an outing since Aug. 20 and walked two. It was a far cry from the 11.25 ERA he posted in his first two postseason starts, when his flat stuff compelled Bochy and Righetti to remove him from the rotation after the Cardinals crushed him in the NLCS opener.Bumgarners start began well enough. He struck out Austin Jackson on a called slider and got Omar Infante to foul a third-strike slider into Poseys glove, making the left-hander the third pitcher in Giants history to start a World Series game with two strikeouts. The others were Mathewson (in 1905) and Carl Hubbell (in 1933).Bumgarner struck out five of the first 10 hitters he faced -- a stunning turnaround after he struck out just two of the 20 batters he faced in his previous outing against the Cardinals.The Tigers are looking like a frustrated bunch. They chased some of Bumgarners misses up in the zone, helping him get through seven innings on just 86 pitches. Bumgarner and Game 1 starter Barry Zito have combined to hold the Tigers to one run on eight hits with 11 strikeouts in 12 23 innings.Bullpen reportSantiago Casilla retired all three hitters he faced in the eighth inning and Sergio Romo went fly out, strikeout and foul pop to first base in a 1-2-3 ninth inning to keep Miguel Cabrera in the on-deck circle.The Giants are 8-0 in the postseason when leading any time after the fifth inning.At the plateEven a shot to the head couldnt knock Doug Fister off his game.The Merced native kept the Giants off balance with a combination of curves, sliders and fastballs, often doubling and tripling up offspeed pitches like a master-level Rock, Scissors, Paper champion.The Giants threatened early just once, when Posey led off the second inning with a single and Gregor Blanco hit a two-out liner that glanced off the back of Fisters head and caromed high in the air, landing all the way in shallow center field.Amazingly, Fister did not appear injured, confused or stunned in the slightest as he called for another baseball. After a couple warmup pitches, trainers cleared him to remain in the game.Fister issued a walk to No. 8 batter Brandon Crawford, although that might have been more strategic as he moved along to Bumgarner and induced a pop-up to shortstop to strand the bases loaded.Bumgarner was the first of 12 consecutive batters retired by Fister, whose streak ended when Pablo Sandoval punched a two-out single in the sixth. But the Giants worked the right-hander for a few long at-bats, including a 10-pitch battle with Hunter Pence that ended with a well struck out to center field in the fourth.Fister began the seventh inning with 108 pitches and he lasted just one batter, as Pence connected on a 2-2 slider and snuck a ground ball through the left side.Left-hander Drew Smyly, a starter for most of the regular season, looked out of sorts while walking Brandon Belt, and it was a bit of a surprise when Gregor Blanco fouled off a bunt attempt on a 2-0 pitch. Blanco pulled back the bat while taking a ball to make it 3-1, but he kept at it on the next offering and the strategy proved sound. His bunt trickled up the third base line and never made a left turn, resting a few inches on the fair side of the chalk as three Tigers stared down at it, as if shooting marbles.Crawford followed with his grounder to second base. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had his infielders at double-play depth, so Infante never looked to the plate. If Leyland was signaling confidence to his hitters that they could score when down to six outs, it might have been misplaced.The Giants added a run in the eighth when Angel Pagan walked, stole second base to encourage an intentional walk to Sandoval, and then Posey walked to load the bases with one out. Pence followed with another productive out a fly out to center field that allowed Pagan to score easily.In fieldSandoval portrayed Richardson in the rewrite of history. He made an incredible reaction play while leaping to catch Miguel Cabreras hard-hit line drive down the third base line with a runner aboard in the fourth inning.But the play at the plate will go down in memory or in lamentation, for Tigers fans. Gregor Blanco collected Youngs double in left field and overthrew Crawford, but Scutaro was Jeter-like in his awareness while backing up the play. Scutaro took the throw and fired a perfect strike to Posey, who reached back and barely brushed Fielders ample backside an instant before his cleats slid across the plate.Fielder once turned another Giants catchers shoulder to hamburger remember Todd Greene? and he collided with backup Eli Whiteside last May, just a couple days after Poseys ankle was shattered by the Marlins Scott Cousins at home plate.Who knew a meeting of Fielder and Posey at the plate could result in a beautiful thing for Giants fans?AttendanceThe Giants announced 42,982 paid. They were led in Take Me Out to the Ballgame by noted Giants fanatic Colin Hanks. But remember, Colin if the Giants lose, theres no crying in baseball!Up nextThe Giants and Tigers travel on Friday and resume the World Series with Game 3 in Detroit on Saturday. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (2-0, 1.42 ERA in three postseason starts) takes the mound against right-hander Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 1.35 ERA in two postseason starts). First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. PDT.

Three more Giants likely to join Posey in World Baseball Classic

Three more Giants likely to join Posey in World Baseball Classic

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Four years ago, Giants coaches made no secret of the fact that they felt some veterans were affected by playing in the World Baseball Classic. The Giants were coming off a long postseason run, but eight of their big leaguers chose to participate in the 2013 event. 

Four years later, the list is down to just four, and the Giants won’t stand in their way. Buster Posey has already been announced as a catcher for Team USA and Brandon Crawford is expected to play as well. Johnny Cueto has told the Giants that he intends on pitching for the Dominican Republic and Albert Suarez plans to pitch for his native Venezuela. 

In past years, clubs have primarily been concerned about pitchers. In an odd way, hitters are almost better off playing in the WBC instead of facing amped up prospects in Cactus League games. The Giants learned that lesson the hard way in 2015 when Hunter Pence was drilled by a prospect with a lack of command, causing him to miss the start of the season. For pitchers, the run-up to Opening Day is a tedious one, but Giants officials said they’re not concerned about their co-ace, Cueto, participating. 

“Major League Baseball is doing everything it can to help us protect them in terms of the quantity of players on the roster and pitch counts and innings,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “We feel MLB is working carefully to help all of us manage guys while they’re away from camp. We feel as confident as ever that they’ll be protected. Lessons have been learned, and everyone involved will try to find ways to avoid issues.”

If Crawford commits to playing, he could find himself in a fun spot. Nolan Arenado has already said he will play for the United States and the two National League West stars could form one hell of a defensive duo on the left side of the infield. Posey will start for a team that already has Max Scherzer and Chris Archer as part of the starting staff. Evans said the teams will carry three catchers, and Posey isn’t expected to be overworked. His manager said he’s not worried about the decision. Posey will simply have to start his preparation process a bit sooner.

“I’m fine with it,” Bruce Bochy said of Posey playing. “Buster wants to do it and I’m good with it.”

This will be the fourth edition of the WBC. In 2013, the Giants were represented by Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Jose Mijares. 

Bochy: Game 4 loss to Cubs toughest I've ever had to bounce back from

Bochy: Game 4 loss to Cubs toughest I've ever had to bounce back from

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Bruce Bochy had grown accustomed to being in the October spotlight during even years, so he had a hard time getting on board as a spectator during one of the most exciting postseasons in recent memory. 

Bochy’s Giants blew a three-run lead in their final game of the season, a loss so devastating that several players headed home the next day without even packing up their lockers. Two months later, Bochy is all smiles. He likes his team, and on Monday he got the closer he needed back in Game 4 of the NLDS. 

Bochy sat down with CSN Bay Area on Tuesday for a one-on-one interview about Mark Melancon, left field, that postseason loss, his new coaches and much more. It will air tonight on SportsTalk Live at 5 p.m. and we’ll run the whole thing back as a podcast. But for now, here are Bochy’s thoughts on the loss that ended his even-year run: 

“I had a hard time, I’m not going to lie. In all my years, that’s the toughest game I’ve ever had to bounce back off of,” he said. “It took a while. It was hard to watch that first postseason game but gradually it got a little better. Just the way we went out, that’s a tough way to go. Our bullpen has been such a big reason for our success so to go out that way, it really wasn’t just that game — it was the second half — we just had a hard time trying to get it figured out. 

“You know, you’ve got to put it behind you, but I’m not going to lie, that was a pretty big blow to the chin. It took a while to get over it.” 

The Giants led the Cubs 5-2 when Bochy made the decision to pull Matt Moore after eight brilliant innings and 120 pitches. That night, Moore and Bochy and everyone else involved said that there was a consensus that Moore had reached the end of the line. Two months later, Bochy doesn’t regret the move. Moore’s 120 pitches went down as the postseason high. 

“I think you can always look back, but these cards have backs on them,” Bochy said. “I felt good about protecting Moore. If he goes back out there he’s probably looking at 135 or maybe more pitches or you’ve got to bring a reliever in with men on base. I felt with the three-run lead that the guys I had could get three outs.” 

Derek Law was the first man out of the bullpen and he gave up a single that was inches from Brandon Crawford’s glove. Javier Lopez walked Anthony Rizzo. Sergio Romo entered and gave up a double to Ben Zobrist. Will Smith gave up a single to pinch-hitter Willson Contreras. After an error, Hunter Strickland gave up a single to Javier Baez. The Cubs won 6-5 and went on to win the World Series. 

“We knew we could get the matchups that we wanted,” Bochy said on Tuesday. “It started out with Law and he got the ground ball right in the shift. The walk hurt. We got behind Rizzo and ended up walking him and Romo ended up getting behind Zobrist and that hurt, the double. And then we had Smitty. I was comfortable and sure they put in the right-handed bat, but the tying run was on second and I didn’t want a left-handed bat up there to pull the ball. He hits a ball that Smitty doesn’t quite get to, a seeing-eye base hit, and unlike us, we made a costly error. There was another, I felt, like a cheap hit there.

“But these are moments you relive. The good ones, but the bad ones stay with you too sometimes.”