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Bumgarner, Tigers Mistakes Put Giants Up 2-0Posted on October 26, 2012 at 09:07 AM.
It had been 10 days since Madison Bumgarner had pitched. After being removed from his game one start against the Cardinals, Bumgarner has been in the bullpen. But, he hasn’t been used for a couple of reasons. First, the Giants starters have pitched deep into games. Second, Bumgarner has struggled since the start of September. During the final month of the season Bumgarner was 2-2 with a 5.47 ERA in 5 starts. In 26.1 innings, he allowed 34 hits and 11 walks. Then, he struggled in his first two postseason starts, giving up 15 hits and 10 runs in 8 innings of work.
His mechanics were off, likely a sign of some fatigue. He is still setting a career high in innings pitched. Likely, the 10 days off were used to refuel and refine. It was obvious from the first inning that the Madison Bumgarner that pitched from April through August was back.
Visually, Bumgarner looked as if his delivery was much more compact and on time. His take was similar, even if he didn’t really want to discuss it. “I don't want to discuss mechanics right now. It's not the place or time for that. But definitely felt better and was able to help me be able to make pitches. I mean, that's all you can do,” said the 23 year old southpaw.
His Manager, Bruce Bochy, was more certain of the improvements. “Well, I think more than anything, it was his delivery. It was a little simpler, more compact, and I think he was able to get the ball where he wanted tonight because of that. Sometimes you get out of sync, whether you're a hitter or a pitcher, and tonight he was right on with his delivery, his rhythm, and just had a good tempo out there and kept it going; great poise the whole game and just did a tremendous job. He hadn't pitched in a while, but he was right on tonight.” said Bochy, who has never lost a playoff series as Giants Manager.
Bumgarner was aided early by a Tigers mistake. In the top of the second, he hit Prince Fielder and then allowed a double down the left field line to Delmon Young. Tigers’ third base coach waived Fielder around. There is the old axiom that you never make the first out at home plate. This is one old axiom that traditionalists and sabermetricians can agree on. Statistically speaking, a team will score on average 2 runs with a runner in scoring position with no outs. With one out, that average goes down to less than a run.
Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont waived Prince Fielder around. To what Lamont saw, it seemed like the right move. He saw the ball bounce away from Gregor Blanco. Without a strong arm in left, Lamont took the risk. Blanco even missed the cutoff man, but postseason hero Marco Scutaro was there to back up the throw and make the relay throw to Buster Posey.
To compound the mistake, Prince Fielder slid directly into the plate, rather than sliding towards the backend of the plate. Had he slid to the back, he would’ve been safe as the play was close enough with his poor slide.
Scoring chance wasted. Bumgarner pitches out of it and goes on to dominate the Tigers for 7 innings.
Sometimes a team can get overly aggressive when they are pressing to score runs. As much as the Tigers made the Yankees look terrible, they really only scored runs in games one and four of that series. Thus far, the Giants have stymied the offense. “I think Gene (Lamont) just got a little over aggressive. We hadn't been scoring runs other than in the final game against the Yankees, and we wanted to be aggressive, and I think he got just a little over aggressive, and it was a bang-bang play, and by the way, I did go out. I thought with my naked eye, I thought he was out, but when Prince reacted, I thought, well, maybe he might have missed him. But the umpire made a great call. He made an absolute terrific call in a big situation, a tough situation, a tough call, and he made a great call,” said Leyland.
It’s amazing how in a period of a week that the Tigers have suddenly transformed into looking like the team they dominated in the previous round.
Bumgarner kept rolling, but his counterpart Doug Fister did as well, albeit less efficiently. Fister had a scary moment when he was hit in the head with a line drive. The Tigers immediately checked Fister, but decided to leave him in the game. He seemed alright and let’s hope that he stays alright as problems likely manifest later on. Fister did travel with the team and was checked by the Tigers medical staff. You have to hope and trust that they were thorough after seeing what Brandon McCarthy went through earlier this season. Fister matched Bumgarner until the seventh.
Fister gave up two singles to lead off the inning. At 114 pitches, Fister was done. But, this is where the game and situation gets interesting. Leyland brought in lefty Drew Smyly to face lefty Gregor Blanco. Because closer Jose Valverde is a non-factor in the series, Leyland didn’t bring in Phil Coke, the likely choice in that situation. But, that was his mistake and shows that this type of bullpen management is new to him and the Tigers. Bruce Bochy brings in whatever reliever that is best for the situation. No reliever has a role. Leyland saved Coke, who is a better option--a strikeout option.
Smyly did fine, but after allowing a spinning bunt that died in fair territory--a sign that it was once again the Giants night--he elicited a double play ball. But, a run scored. With a team having trouble scoring runs, the infield in might have been a better choice. The Giants added a run in the 8th in part because of Smyly’s lack of control as he walked Angel Pagan to lead off the inning. After intentionally walking Pablo Sandoval, Leyland brought in Octavio Dotel, who walked Buster Posey and then gave up the sacrifice fly to Hunter Pence. Phil Coke came in and struck out Brandon Belt to finish the inning.
Meanwhile, the Giants relievers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo pitched two perfect innings to close out the 2-0 victory and put the Giants up 2-0 heading to Detroit.
The two games have come down to two things. The Giants have made plays, done the little things like base running, and have pitched well. The Tigers have made the little errors and have a bullpen that is not quite functional in a close game. The layoff hasn’t impacted them; that is not an excuse. Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner have out-pitched their opponents. The Giants bullpen is more functional because that is how they were built. And, the Tigers have made some poor decisions.
Detroit will hope that a trip home and having a designated hitter in their lineup will help awaken their bats. All of the advantages are with the Giants now. The series is guaranteed to return to San Francisco if the Tigers hold serve at home. They have their two best pitchers, Ryan Vogelsong and ace Matt Cain, ready for the next two games while the Tigers throw their third and fourth starters. But, this postseason has shown one thing: the unexpected usually happens. The Tigers have to hope that the unexpected trend continues because they are being dominated right now.
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