SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-0 in World Series Game 2 on Thursday night as Hunter Pence ended what had been a pitching duel between the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and the Tigers’ Doug Fister.
Relievers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo closed out a two-hit shutout for Bumgarner and the Giants, who took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven World Series. Bumgarner was crafty all night, striking out eight while throwing only 86 pitches through seven full innings to get the win.
“It definitely feels a whole lot better than having our backs against the wall,” Bumgarner said. “But you can’t relax. We’ve got to keep pushing.”
Pence led off the bottom of the seventh with a single that chased Fister from the mound after 114 pitches. Rookie left-handed reliever Drew Smyly then got two strikes on Brandon Belt before walking him. Gregor Blanco went up looking to sacrifice and his bunt was so perfect that it hugged the third base line and trickled to a stop, just 3 to 4 inches fair on the infield dirt, for a hit that loaded the bases.
Pence scored the game’s first run moments later on a double-play ball hit by Brandon Crawford.
Pence added an insurance run the next inning with a sacrifice fly off reliever Octavio Dotel to score Angel Pagan, who got things started in the eighth with a lead-off walk and a stolen base.
“We played good small ball today,” Pence said. “We played a great game of baseball, had outstanding pitching and great defense and we found a way to get it done.”
The loss certainly left the favored Tigers wondering what else could go wrong. Prince Fielder was thrown out at the plate by a hair and moments later Fister was struck squarely in the head by a line drive. Miguel Cabrera even hopped up in frustration after third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who homered a record-tying three times in the opener for an 8-3 Giants win, snared his early line drive.
(On a side note, Sandoval was 1 for 3 in Game 2 with a sixth-inning single. He flied out and grounded out in his first two at-bats.)
“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We got two hits tonight. I’m certainly not going to sit up here and rip my offense because last night I thought we had some pretty good swings. Cabrera hit a bullet tonight.”
But there were early mistakes by the Tigers in trying to even the Series – particularly when they squandered a chance at a big inning with some overly aggressive baserunning.
Fielder was hit on the right shoulder by a pitch leading off the second inning and Delmon Young, the AL championship series MVP, lined the ball down the left-field line. Blanco picked up the ball after it caromed off the fence in foul territory and threw to second baseman Marco Scutaro near third base.
Fielder sped up as he turned third base. As he slid late, his left leg popped up off the dirt, and he was swipe tagged on the butt by catcher Buster Posey. Umpire Dan Iassogna, working his first Series game behind the plate, had a clear look and made a demonstrative out call which Leyland came out of the dugout to argue briefly.
Iassogna made an excellent call as television replays showed Posey’s sweep tag was just in time. FOX Sports reported that it was the first 7-4-2 putout in World Series history. The TV commentators wondered aloud why Fielder wasn’t held at third by third base coach Gene Lamont, setting up the Tigers with two runners in scoring position and nobody out.
“I think Gene just got a little overaggressive,” Leyland said.
In the bottom of the second, Fister was struck just above the right ear by Blanco’s line drive with one on and two outs. The ball ricocheted into short center for a single. Fister, however, showed no visible effect from the blow — he never went down and never appeared to be hurt.
“Whoa!” Iassogna said as he came out from behind the plate, adding: “Doug, you OK?” when he got to the mound. The 6-foot-8 Fister said he was fine.
After Fister was checked out by Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones, he loaded the bases with a walk to Crawford. Bumgarner hit a soft looper to shortstop Jhonny Peralta, ending the inning.
But while Fister stayed in the game, the offensive frustrations for Detroit continued to mount.
Omar Infante led off the fourth with an infield single off the glove of the shortstop Crawford and Cabrera got ahead in the count before smoking a line drive that was caught by third baseman Sandoval. Cabrera pounded his chest once and looked up toward the sky.
Fielder then flied out to the left-field warning track and Infante was picked off when he tried to steal second in another slide that came up short.
In the seventh, Cabrera drew a lead-off walk, outlasting Bumgarner in a nine-pitch at-bat. Fielder took a huge hack on the next pitch and swung through it. Then he bounced back to the mound for a 1-6-3 double play, snuffing out a potential rally as a fired-up Bumgarner pumped his fist and yelled.
It was a great Game 2 effort for Bumgarner, who really struggled during the NL playoffs. When he struck out Austin Jackson and Infante to start Thursday’s game, he joined Christy Mathewson (1905) and Carl Hubbell (1933) as the only Giants pitchers to open a Series game with consecutive strikeouts.
“(I was) just able to make pitches,” Bumgarner said. “I hadn’t done a very good job of making pitches this postseason so far and this is a team that you’re not going to be able to afford to miss with.”
“They hit some balls hard, but luckily we were in the right spot,” he added.
Forty-one of 52 teams to take 2-0 leads in the World Series have gone on to win the title. Ironically, the Giants swept the first two games at home two years ago against the Texas Rangers en route to their first championship since 1954.
When the Series resumes in Detroit on Saturday night, mid-season acquisition Anibal Sanchez starts for the Tigers and Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants. The temperature in the Motor City is expected to be in the low-to-mid 40s, significantly cooler than the weather conditions for the first two games at AT&T Park.
(Copyright 2012 CBS San Francisco. Wire services contributed to this report.)