SAN FRANCISCO – In a game of so many strikeouts and popups and ground balls to short, it was almost appropriate that the second game of the World Series would be decided on a bunt that died in the grass just feet from home plate.
And because the Detroit Tigers did not attempt to make a play on a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning, they allowed the San Francisco Giants to load the bases and eventually score the winning run in a 2-0 victory. Even more devastating to the favored Tigers is the fact the Giants are now only two wins away from a World Series title.
Detroit was supposed to run away with this series, overwhelming the Giants with dominant starting pitching. But in a Game 2 controlled by pitchers Doug Fister for Detroit and Madison Bumgarner for San Francisco, it was a little thing that destroyed the Tigers.
Hunter Pence led off the seventh inning with a single off of Fister. Tigers manager Jim Leyland then brought in reliever Drew Smyly to face the Giants' Brandon Belt. Smyly walked Belt, bringing up left fielder Gregor Blanco, who tried to sacrifice. But when the ball came off Blanco’s bat, Detroit catcher Gerald Laird decided not to make a play, thinking the ball would roll foul.
Instead it stopped in the grass near the foul line, keeping the Tigers from getting a valuable out while loading the bases for the Giants. The next batter, Brandon Crawford, hit into a double play, allowing Pence to score what would be the winning run. The Giants added another run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly.
Bumgarner delivered a dominant outing in his second career World Series start, throwing seven scoreless innings and allowing just two hits with eight strikeouts.
"It definitely feels a whole lot better that having our backs against the wall," Bumgarner said of being up 2-0 heading to Detroit. "[The NL divisional and championship series'] were stressful series.' Both the series we played there [were] tough. It's nice, but we can't relax. We got to keep pushing."
Now the Tigers are in serious trouble. They have only scored three runs in two games. The series moves to their stadium, but they are also down 2-0.
Of course this might have been a game the Tigers could have blown open in the second inning. That was when Bumgarner hit Prince Fielder to start the top of the inning. The next hitter, Delmon Young, lined a shot just inside third base that rolled into the leftfield corner, bouncing off the wall. For a moment it looked to bound away from left fielder Blanco. The illusion seemed to inspire Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont to wave Fielder home.
The 275-pound Fielder lumbered around third as Blanco made a perfect throw to second baseman Marco Scutaro, who had raced over toward third. Scutaro then fired the ball to catcher Buster Posey who tagged Fielder out. Bumgarner got Jhonny Peralta to pop to first base and struck out Avisail Garcia to end what had once been a promising inning.
It was the last threat the Tigers would have against Bumgarner on Thursday night.
"This is a team that you're not going to be able to mess with, and the ball was working tonight," Bumgarner said. "I was making pitches, mixing it up, and they hit some balls hard, but luckily we were in the right spot."
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