In which we discuss how the Giants need to play .400 baseball over the next week.
I'll take a World Series win any way I can get it. A blown call would be dandy. Three errors and a catcher's interference call in the ninth inning. Ryan Theriot doing something. Anything's cool.
The Giants won two playoff series without the help of Madison Bumgarner. So it followed that they could win another without him. It wouldn't have been the path of least resistance, and it wouldn't have been easy. But it was possible. And I would have taken it without looking back too much.
It would have been a little depressing, though. Not just for the short-term, d'awwww, he wasn't a part of it. But also in the long-term, sheesh, what's up with him?
And that's all before you considered the very strong possibility that the Giants couldn't keep pulling wins out of a hat with Bumgarner's help. The World Series is a dandy scrum between a couple of teams who got there because they have a gaggle of good players. Bumgarner is one of those good players. If he continued his streak of degooding, it was going to make things a lot harder on the Giants.
Which was all a lengthy introduction to say this: Madison Bumgarner was good again.
I sat in view reserve on the third base side tonight, so I can't tell you if Bumgarner had the corner command going, or if the Tigers were overanxious and swinging at everything. I know that Miguel Cabrera was robbed on a liner, and that Gene Lamont has a strong chance of being an epithet for future Tigers fans, much like Jose Cruz, Jr. is for us, but I couldn't tell you what was working for Bumgarner.
I have an idea, though. I see that Curt Schilling called Bumgarner's stuff "mediocre at best," which makes me think Bumgarner's slutter was working a little bit. That's a pitch that doesn't have a flashy, deep break. It doesn't sex up the joint. But it gets outs when it's going right. Bumgarner struck out eight, and his pitch count was quite low. I'm guessing slutter and fastball location. If that's Bumgarner's mediocre stuff, he'll be pitching until he's 42.
It was possible to do it without Bumgarner. It might have been impossible to do it without Bumgarner. And it still might not be done at all, even with Bumgarner's help. Those "it"s are about the World Series, in case I lost you back there. But it sure is cool as all heck to have him back for a night. He has exemplary timing, that one.
Ho, man, sending Prince Fielder in the second inning with no one out. Tigers fans are going nuts about that, right? They're probably going nuts.
If coached a cricket team, I'd probably make horrible mistakes like that all the time. "Wicket the carvesnail," I'd say. And the cricket players would say, "You want us to wicket the carvesnail now? But there's a gloaming." And I'd say, "Did you hear what I said? Give that wicket some what for!" And then my team would lose because I don't know a damned thing about cricket.
That's what sending a lumbering runner home on a pretty standard double is like, especially when there weren't any outs. Lamont is probably on the Wikipedia page for baseball right now to see why everyone's mad at him. Goodness.
I screamed myself hoarse tonight exhorting a professional baseball player to hit a fly ball. That is all I wanted, for this player, who is amply compensated and has reached some measure of professional success in his career, to hit a fly ball to medium-deep center field. He did it.
Bully for Hunter Pence, then. A sac fly was all I wanted, and he delivered. A strikeout would have been so, so demoralizing. But there was a sac fly. A glorious out for the greater good. Lowered expectations are the best expectations as long as you'll settle for just about anything.
Octavio Dotel threw six pitches to Pence. He threw one slider.
Is there a carrier pigeon flying around Detroit right now, lost with a "HUNTER PENCE CAN"T HIT BREAKING BALLS" note around its little foot? Poor little guy.
Good for Pence, though. It's nice that he can catch a break. And he also had the only hit of the two mini-rallies. The Giants scored a run in the seventh and eighth on exactly one hit. Amazing. I'll never complain about the 2010 Padres again.
I went to Game 2 of the 2010 World Series, too. It had a really, really similar feeling for a while. Both pitchers were working quickly. There were flukey things to keep runs off the board -- Ian Kinsler's double off the top of the wall for the Rangers, and Gene Lamont just arriving from Belgium. Steve Perry was on the scoreboard. When the Giants got a lead, they played "Living on a Prayer," and when everyone started singing "We're halfway there," I wanted to punch them all for being a bunch of jinx faces. We weren't halfway there yet! Heck, I was almost in the same seat.
I kept waiting for the Edgar Renteria home run. It never came. But Derek Holland is Drew Smyly's spirit animal, or vice versa, so at least we got some walks out of the deal.
And now the Giants really are halfway to another championship. Just like we all figured when Homer Bailey was liquifying Giants hitters in Game 3 of the NLDS, or when we heard that Justin Verlander was matched up with Barry Zito in Game 1. But here we are. I don't think I have to remind you that weird stuff could be around the corner. The Giants won three straight games to escape each of the last two series, reaching back to grab their fedora at the last second. There could be some comeuppance a coming. Uppance. You know that.
But, all in all, winning the first two games of the World Series was probably a good decision.