SAN FRANCISCO Madison Bumgarner had gotten henpecked formore than a month.
His stuff had turned flat and stale, his delivery stretchedout like jeans after a fourth wearing and fewer and fewer baseballs found theirway into Buster Poseys mitt.
But Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti was confident thatthree side sessions gave Bumgarner enough twine to hold together his mechanics.And in Game 2 of the World Series, Bumgarner was able to rope all the BigBossies in the Detroit Tigers lineup.
He allowed two hits in seven shutout innings while strikingout eight in the Giants 2-0 victory. And he was the same ol Bumgarner whenasked to compare his outing with his previous two, in which he had an 11.25ERA.
BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 win in Game 2
I went into the seventh inning instead of getting took outin the third, he said, busting up the assembly in the interview room.
Bumgarner didnt seem to have two-hit stuff. Some fastballs over the plate were fouled off, others were hit hard for outs and one off the bat of Miguel Cabrera probably came close to breaking the sound barrier before it nearly vaporized Pablo Sandoval's glove at third base.
But Bumgarner had the most finish on his slider in a month, he kept throwing them to various locations, and that was enough to keep the Tigers off theirgame. It was the kind of outing that was familiar for Bumgarner during theregular season, when he allowed just five home runs over 15 starts at AT&TPark.
In his first two playoff starts, he'd gotten tagged for three home runs.
The only difference was being able to make pitches,Bumgarner said. I hadnt been able to do that and tonight, Buster (Posey) caughta great game and the defense did great. They hit some balls hard and ithappened to be in the right spot.
Once again, Giants manager Bruce Bochys confidence in acore player was rewarded. Game 2 was supposed to be the "scramble game" for a Giants rotation that had been pushed to the brink in the NLCS while the Tigers played tiddlywinks with prospects. The Tigers set everything up to their liking. The Giants used the only rested pitcher they had.
The Tigers managed two hits -- the fewest allowed by the Giants in their 107 WorldSeries games in franchise history.
Hes done such a great job for us, said Bochy of Bumgarner, who had been pulled from the NLCS rotation after Game 1. I really thought heneeded a break, and I thought he benefited from it mentally and physically, andhe went out there and pitched like we know he can.
His delivery was simpler, it was more compact and I thinkhe was able to get the ball where he wanted tonight because of that.
Was he really that good?
Well, I think he just had a pretty determined look on hisface tonight, Tigers manager Jim Leyand said. He made some good pitches whenhe had to. He probably got pumped up a little bit, but he ended up pitching agood game and we didnt do very much with him. I tip my hat to him as well.
RELATED: Tigers tip their caps to Giants' pitching
If the Tigers really can't hit lefties, the rest of this series shapes up well for the Giants. Barry Zito and Bumgarner have allowed just one runover 12 23 innings in two World Series starts. And theyd be lined up to pitchagain in Games 5 and 6, should this affair get that far.
Baseball has a sense of humor, or irony, or something.
Ever since reporting day in spring training, weve asked about and wondered howBuster Posey would handle plays at the plate. Bumgarner was on record early saying he wouldnt mindgiving away a few runs as a devils bargain to keep Posey from gettingobliterated, as he did last season by the Florida Marlins Scott Cousins.
Sure enough, Posey has set up so far in front of the platethat hes probably cost the Giants somewhere on the order of a half-dozen runs during the regular season.
But what about a World Series game? What about a stage important enough where its worth it to risk a collision to save a run? I askedPosey before the postseason began if hed modify his positioning for plays atthe plate. He said it wouldnt make any sense to change the way hes donesomething all season. He didn't think it would be a big deal, really.
So what happens in Game 2? Not only does Posey get a play atthe plate, but it involves Prince Fielder who collided with Eli Whitesidejust a couple days after the Posey play last May. Fielder blew up former Giant ToddGreene in a home-plate collision a few years before that, too.
Given the principal participants alone, it set up forcomplete and utter disaster.
But Marco Scutaros throw didnt carry Posey into thebaseline, and Posey was able to reach back and apply his swipe tag at the lastinstant before Fielders cleats touched the plate. Posey executed that playjust as he practiced it, and emerged none the worse for wear.
RELATED: Posey avoids collision as 'perfect' relay sparks Giants win
In the end, Posey was right. He played the way he practiced, and something good happened for the Giants.
Credit umpire Dan Iassogna with a terrific call at theplate on Fielder, by the way. Good umpires are not noticed, but its important to note that Iassognawas in great position and made the right call on a tough play.
First base umpire Fieldin Culbreath blew a call on Scutaro,though, when he tried to dive headfirst to beat out an infield single. Scutarowas called out; he was clearly safe on the replay.
There are repercussions. Denied his rightful hit, Scutaros postseason hitting streakended at 11, tying him with Irish Meusel atop the Giants franchise list.
Gregor Blanco wasnt shocked by Pablo Sandovals three-homerperformance in Game 1. Blanco watched a few years ago when Sandoval crushedpitch after pitch to win the Pepsi Home Run Derby as part of the Venezuelanwinter league.
Sandoval beat Miguel Cabrera in the finals.
I finally got 20 seconds with Sandoval (which is noeasy task these days!) and asked him what he writes in the dirt just prior tothe first pitch, then wipes away with his hand before tossing the dirt in theair.
God, he said.
I told Brian Wilson that the Giants need to lose two ofthree in Detroit for his midsummer prediction a clinching Game 6 victory onHalloween night to come true.
We can move it up, he said. Well have the parade onHalloween.
Zito and Bumgarner are the first leftyteammates to start and win the first two games of a World Series since 1981,when Ron Guidry and Tommy John did so for the Yankees.
The very best news of the night is that Tigers right-hander Doug Fister appearsto be OK. Lets not laud anyones toughness for playing after sustaining headtrauma of any kind. Lets just be glad hes all right, by all accounts.
RELATED: Doug Fister overcomes terrifying moment
The last eight teams to go up 2-0 in the World Series havegone on to win the championship. In fact, 14 of the last 15 teams to meet thatcriteria have emerged with the flag-studded trophy.
The lone exception is the 1996 Atlanta Braves, who droppedtheir next four to the Yankees.
The Giants, in case you were wondering, have gone up 2-0four times in franchise history. They won the World Series all four times: 1922vs. the Yankees, 1933 vs. the Senators, 1954 vs. the Indians and 2010 vs. theRangers.
Its been a rough 104 years for Cubs fans since then.
Last word, Tim Flannery?
As the great Carlos Santana the guitar player, not thecatcher said in 2010, sometimes you need to know when to get out of the wayof yourself, Flannery said. And tonight was one of those moments.