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


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

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.

Cody Ross joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage


Cody Ross joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While rehabbing an injury in 2014, Cody Ross played for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he walked to the plate, Ross got a standing ovation. 

“I absolutely didn’t expect that,” Ross said. “I really didn’t know that there was such a big Giants following there. It was pretty neat. I got teary-eyed. It was incredible.”

That experience, along with recent trips to Napa and Pebble Beach, showed Ross that his contributions to the 2010 title run will never be forgotten in Northern California, Nevada, or anywhere else you’ll find Giants fans. This season, Ross will once again be in front of an adoring fan base. The longtime Major League outfielder will work with NBC Sports Bay Area as an analyst on Giants pre- and post-game shows.

“I’ve always had some interest in doing that,” Ross said. “I can’t say that was the first thing that came to mind when I was a player, but now that I’m out of the game and looking for different avenues to stay in the game, TV is probably the next best thing besides being on the field.”

Ross, 36, actually has been on the field this spring. He has worked with the Giants as a camp instructor, paying particular attention to the outfielders, naturally. The Giants are hopeful that Ross can help a promising group of minor league outfielders, and he has spent much of his time this spring working with infielders — Aaron Hill, Jae-Gyun Hwang and others — who are trying to add left field to the resume.  

Getting back on the field was something Ross was eager to do, and the Giants were the perfect fit since they train near his home north of Scottsdale. Ross still is inundated with autograph seekers at Scottsdale Stadium, despite the fact that it’s been six years since he wore orange and black. When he visits San Francisco, the greetings tend to be the same. Fans constantly approach Ross to shake hands and simply say “thank you for what you did in 2010.”

“That means a lot,” Ross said. “They don’t have to do that. It just kind of goes to show how amazing the fan base is and how passionate they are. They don’t forget.”

It would be hard to. Ross joined the Giants on a waiver claim in August of 2010 and ended up as a key bat during the title run, hitting .294 in the playoffs with five homers and 10 RBI. He was the MVP of the NLCS. 

Ross played one more season with the Giants before stints with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and A’s. Throughout his career, he said, he would watch pregame shows to try and get updates on opposing teams. He'll get on the other side of the camera for the first time in late April. 

"I’m excited," Ross said. "It should be a fun experience, and it's going to be nice to be back in the Bay Area."

Javier Lopez joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage


Javier Lopez joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Javier Lopez walked through the clubhouse the other day casually flipping a weighted ball into the air. He looked like a left-hander getting ready for another season, and Lopez will in fact spend plenty of time in San Francisco this year. He won’t be on the field, though. He’ll be watching it. 

Lopez will join NBC Sports Bay Area as a studio analyst this season, adding to a schedule that also will include a fair amount of time in the booth with Duane Kuiper. The transition is one Lopez has been thinking about for years, and he said he used to do mock broadcasts from the bullpen in order to mix it up and keep his attention on the game. 

[RELATED: Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage]

“It’s something I definitely was considering toward the end of my career,” Lopez said. “Being recently retired and knowing a good amount of the guys that are on this team still, I think it’ll be a different perspective that I’ll be able to give.”

Lopez is the second left-handed reliever and Core Four member to jump into TV work in the first year of retirement. Jeremy Affeldt joined the network last season and the two will split the road games that Mike Krukow will miss this season, with Affeldt focusing primarily on NL Central series and Lopez handling most of the East Coast trips. 

To prepare, Lopez, who has had two stints in camp as an instructor, has been chatting with former teammates about the intricacies of playing other positions and taking at-bats. He has bounced ideas off players like Buster Posey, but he’s also looking forward to providing the unique perspective of a side-arming left-handed reliever

“Even with the pitching staff, I see things through a different lens than most people,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn from everybody.”

Lopez was a clubhouse leader throughout his time with the Giants and he was a co-winner of the Willie Mac Award last season, his seventh in San Francisco. When the postseason was over, Lopez wasn’t sure he would be taking the TV step right away. He made a small list of contenders he would play for in 2017, with a focus on trying to win a fifth ring. 

“There were a couple of phases for me in particular,” he said. “I think I was thinking about knowing for sure that I wasn’t going to be a San Francisco Giant again. That was tough, but in another sense, this isn’t my first team that I’ve been on. I know how the business works. They have a lot of hard throwers as they’ve shown this spring and that’s the way that baseball is trending in the bullpen. We knew that the opportunity here wasn’t going to be there, and I was okay with that. 

“There were some teams I really wanted to go to and some places that I wanted to play, but ultimately those places started filling up pretty quickly with the relievers. The opportunities were available and I could have played — there were offers out there — but I didn’t see myself in those uniforms. If my heart’s not in it, that’s not a good way to go.”