S.F. Giants use a little luck to go up 2-0 in World Series

Jim Piascik

The San Francisco Giants squeezed by the Detroit Tigers 2-0 Thursday night with some help from the bouncing ball.

Or, more accurately, the non-rolling ball.

The Giants managed to push across the first run of the game in the seventh inning with the benefit of a Gregor Blanco bunt that stopped just short of going foul down the third-base line. That bunt, which was intended to be a sacrifice, ended up loading the bases for San Francisco with no outs.

There is no way to know what would have happened if Blanco’s bunt had gone foul or if it had in fact turned into a sacrifice, but all we know is the Giants took a 2-0 series advantage thanks to it turning into a hit.

Heading into the game, there seemed to be little chance of a low-scoring game the way Giants starter Madison Bumgarner previously pitched in the playoffs. Before Thursday, Bumgarner allowed ten runs in eight innings and was not a lock to start a game in the World Series.

Bumgarner struck out eight batters in seven innings with two walks, two hits, and — most importantly — no runs. Bumgarner did not have his best stuff, but he pitched well enough to keep the Tigers scoreless.

On the other side, Tigers starter Doug Fister made it through six innings, an impressive feat after a Blanco line drive hit him in the head during the second inning. After a similar scenario in September where Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy ended up having brain surgery, it is amazing that Fister stayed in the game.

The game was scoreless through six-and-a-half innings before the Giants finally broke through. Fister made it through six scoreless innings, striking out three batters and only giving up one walk and three hits, but Detroit left Fister in one batter too long.

Fister allowed a leadoff single to Hunter Pence in the seventh before Drew Smyly relieved him. Smyly showed some nerves in his first World Series appearance, walking the first batter he faced — Brandon Belt.

Then came Blanco’s sacrifice bunt/bunt single, which loaded the bases for the Giants with no outs.

Smyly managed to induce a Brandon Crawford double play, but that double play drove in the biggest run of the game. The Tigers limited the damage to just the one run, but it was enough.

San Francisco added an insurance run on a Pence sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, though it turned out to be unnecessary considering how Detroit batted.

In the end, no matter how well the Tigers’ pitchers threw, it would not have made a difference. Detroit’s bats went ice-cold Thursday, going a combined 2-for-26 and only drawing two walks.

The Tigers still have very good starting pitching lined up for Games 3 and 4 back in Detroit, but they’ll really need to hope some home-cooking will get their bats going.

After a day off, the Giants will start Ryan Vogelsong Saturday night against Anibal Sanchez. If Vogelsong finds a way to do what Barry Zito and Bumgarner did in games one and two, he can give the Giants an almost-insurmountable 3-0 lead.

Contact Jim Piascik at [email protected].