EXTRA BAGGS: Giving rope to Bumgarner, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Giving rope to Bumgarner, etc.

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.

The Tigers, meanwhile, are down 0-2 in the World Series forthe first time since 1908. The Chicago Cubs went on to beat them that season.

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.

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 


Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.