A night after ex-Jacket Pablo Sandoval hit three homers to lead the Giants to an 8-3 victory, starter Madison Bumgarner was the star with the Augusta connection.
Bumgarner pitched two-hit ball over seven innings, Brandon Crawford drove in the go-ahead run with a double-play grounder after a key bunt stopped just fair along the third-base line as the Giants took a 2-0 series lead.
Bumgarner, who lost both his starts in the NL playoffs, struck out eight and walked two. Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, another former GreenJacket, finished with perfect relief.
It was Bumgarner’s first appearance since Game 1 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals – a messy 3⅔ innings that earned him a demotion to the bullpen (where he didn’t pitch) for the remainder of the series.
That came on the heels of a ragged NLDS. In all, Bumgarner was 0-2 with 11.25 ERA this postseason, and batters were hitting .385 against him.
Hunter Pence led off the seventh with a single off Doug Fister, and reliever Drew Smyly walked Brandon Belt. Gregor Blanco’s bunt stopped on the dirt up the third-base line, 3 to 4 inches fair. With the infield in at the corners, Crawford grounded to second baseman Omar Infante.
Pence added a sacrifice fly in the eighth off Octavio Dotel. Sandoval was 1 for 3 with a sixth-inning single and an intentional walk.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy showed faith in Bumgarner instead of starting two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, relegated mostly to a relief role after going 10-15 during the regular season.
Bumgarner responded with his first scoreless outing since mid-August, and improved to 2-0 in the World Series with 15 scoreless innings and only five hits allowed.
He started a tight, 86-pitch effort that includes 54 strikes by joining Christy Mathewson (1905) and Carl Hubbell (1933) as the only Giants to open a Series game with consecutive strikeouts.
Forty-one of 52 teams to take 2-0 leads have gone on to win the title. The Giants swept the first two games at home two years ago against Texas en route to their first championship since 1954.
It was the first time a double-play grounder scored the tiebreaking run in the last lead change of a Series game since the Dodgers’ Mike Scioscia against the Yankees in Game 3 in 1981, according to STATS LLC.
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.
The 6-foot-8 Fister managed to stay on the mound, and even excelled. Bumgarner more than matched him, however, allowing just two hits before the San Francisco bullpen closed it out before another pulsating crowd.
The Tigers looked foggy at the plate, maybe still lost after a five-day layoff after an ALCS sweep of the Yankees. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera hopped up and twisted away after Sandoval snared his early line drive.
This game was scoreless in the seventh when the Giants went ahead, right after actor Tom Hanks – a former peanut vendor at the nearby Oakland Coliseum – sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game on the field.
Pence led off with a single and Fister departed, getting lots of hugs in the dugout. Rookie reliever Drew Smyly walked Brandon Belt on a full-count pitch and Blanco’s bunt loaded the bases.
The Tigers kept their infield back up the middle, and had no play at the plate on Crawford’s bouncer.
Pence added the insurance run the next inning with his flyball off Octavio Dotel.
Fielder and the Tigers came up inches short of taking an early lead, the result of yet another alert play by second baseman Marco Scutaro and a dubious decision by third base coach Gene Lamont.
Fielder was hit by a pitch to lead off the second, Delmon Young followed with a double and when the ball rattled around in left field, Lamont waved the burly slugger home. Even with no outs, Lamont sent him.
Scutaro, in the middle of every big play for the Giants this month, dashed across the diamond, caught Blanco’s relay and unleashed a strong throw to the plate. All-Star catcher Buster Posey made a swipe tag to Fielder’s backside, just as the Tigers star slid home. Umpire Dan Iassogna had a clear look and made a demonstrative call – out!
Fielder immediately popped up from his slide and pleaded his case with two hands. Tigers manager Jim Leyland rushed out and pointed to the plate. At second base, Young yelled, “No!”
But even if there was replay review, it wouldn’t have helped the Tigers. Because TV replays showed Iassogna, working his first plate job in a World Series, got it right.
There was no dispute that Fister somehow avoided a serious injury moments later.
With two outs in the Giants second, Blanco lined a shot up the middle that hit Fister on the right side of the head and deflected on the fly to shallow center field.
Fister showed no visible effect from the blow – in fact, some in the crowd wondered whether the ball perhaps glanced off his glove because Fister stayed on his feet. Only when fans saw replays did groans echo around the ballpark.
Leyland, pitching coach Jeff Jones and a trainer went to the mound, and Fister insisted on staying in the game. He walked the next batter to load the bases, but retired Bumgarner on a popup, starting a streak of 12 straight hitters set down by Fister.
Among those who winced was Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who sustained a skull fracture and brain contusion after being hit by a line drive last month.
“I’m not watching but did just see the replay. Certainly hope he’s ok,” McCarthy tweeted.