Visions of 2010 are rapidly creeping their way into the formula of the Giants’ success this year. Madison Bumgarner, who came into Game 2 having not pitched since October 14, proved that the mechanical flaws that he smoothed out were legitimate.
The lefty allowed just two hits over seven innings, using just 86 pitches to gather eight strikeouts. His spot in the lineup crept up on Bruce Bochy in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on third after Brandon Crawford grounded into a double play. Despite taking the lead of Crawford’s double play grounder, 1-0, Bochy elected to pinch-hit for Bumgarner with Ryan Theriot. In spite of forcing a 3-2 count, Theriot whiffed at strike three.
Bumgarner wasn’t as sharp was he probably wanted to be. The fourth inning proved to be an inning that the southpaw got away with a couple of mistakes to the best duo in baseball. Miguel Cabrera drilled a pitch that was inevitably headed towards the left field corner to possibly plate a run for Detroit, but Sandoval made a leaping catch to prevent any damage. A batter later, Prince Fielder drove a ball to the very end of the warning track in left field, but Gregor Blanco swiftly tracked down the hoovering fly ball to relieve the AT&T Park crowd and Bumgarner.
Bumgarner fanned eight batters, a playoff career-high. He finished his night on a high-note, allowing no hits over his final three innings (5th, 6th, 7th). And for Bumgarner, who entered the game with an 11.25 ERA in the postseason this year, this start reminded the Giants how good he can be. On a night where runs didn’t come cheap, Bumgarner had to be good, as his counterpart in Doug Fister matched him pitch for pitch until the seventh inning when the Giants scored on Crawford’s bases loaded double play ball.
In the postseason, Hunter Pence hasn’t done much right for the Giants. He struck out three times on Wednesday night, but contributed a big RBI in the eighth inning to give Sergio Romo some breathing room in the ninth inning. Down two strikes, Pence laced a deep fly ball to score Angel Pagan on the sacrifice fly.
And with 42,982 fans twirling orange rally rags, Romo jammed Omar Infante to induce a weak pop out in foul territory to end the game.
The Giants now head back to Detroit up 2-0, Sure, the baseball gods seem to be with them, but they know it best, nothing over until it’s over.