Game 2 of the World Series stayed scoreless until the seventh inning, when San Francisco finally got the game’s first run, and then plated an insurance run in the eighth to win 2-0, giving them the same lead in games in this series. But by the time four innings were in the books, you had the distinct impression that this was again going to be San Fran’s night.
The first moment came in the top of the second and it’s the sequence that’s gotten the most play in the game recaps. Prince Fielder was on first base with no one out. Delmon Young lined a double into the left field corner. It kicked off the portion of the wall that juts out a little further. A relay through from Gregor Blanco was overthrown, but Marco Scutaro was backing up and nailed Fielder at the plate.
There were questions surrounding third base coach Gene Lamont’s decision to send Fielder. While acknowledging the risk of making the first out of the inning at home plate and the hot-hitting Jhonny Peralta coming up next, most commentators—from Tim McCarver in the booth, to the Fox pregame crew out in left field—seemed to cut the third-base coach a break, saying the way the ball caromed likely made the play closer than it initially appeared.
I like Lamont a lot, but I think this decision was a bad one from the start. While Fielder is more athletic than his body type makes him appear, he’s still not a burner. While it was a bit of a bad break on the carom, it wasn’t a horrifically bad one—watch enough games over the course of the year and see that type of bounce happen frequently enough.
And then there’s the whole Peralta coming up, potentially with runners on second and third. When I watched the play, my first thought was “panic move.” The Giants might have gotten in the Tigers’ heads and the team trailing in the series felt the need to force things.
Lamont’s been a good manager and I assume a credible third-base coach. He’s also a blessed individual, having finished second to Bobby Valentine in last year’s Red Sox managerial sweepstakes—talk about dodging a bullet. But I think the possibility of this decision blowing up where high enough that Lamont should have kept Fielder at third.
The second instance didn’t have nearly the nuance, but it was just as revealing. Detroit had the leadoff man on the fourth and Miguel Cabrera at the plate. The Triple Crown winner uncorked a screaming line drive to third base that appeared destined for the corner. It was snared by Pablo Sandoval, who seems bound and determined to lock up series MVP honors before we’re halfway done. If it was a possible for a play to speak the words “It’s not your night” to Detroit, this one was it.
Thus, it seemed almost inevitable when San Francisco finally broke the ice in the seventh, and turned it over to Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo to close out in the final two innings. Madison Bumgarner, after struggling badly in his first two postseason starts was brilliant. So much for the concern I had in the preview of this series about the way San Fran’s pitching lined up. Now when the action resumes Saturday night in Detroit, Frisco throws Matt Cain and then Ryan Vogelsong against the back end of the Tiger rotation.
Homefield or not, Detroit’s got their hands full just trying to get the series extended to Game 5 and a second chance for Justin Verlander.