People are saying the Giants are getting all the breaks.
In this World Series, I have to disagree. Big time.
So far, the Giants have outplayed and outperformed the Tigers. And it’s not even close.
Game 2 fell because of two coaching decisions on the Detroit side, and only one was really a Jim Leyland call. You know what they are.
Prince Fielder Going Home
This will be the most dissected call of this game, so I won’t dissect it for you. I’ve seen some pretty convincing cases about why third base coach Gene Lamont waved in Fielder, in that it would take a perfect play by at least three players to get an out (and they were perfect). If there were two outs, I’d completely agree. But with no outs, a caller to KNBR described my feelings perfectly: If he can’t score standing up, don’t send him. Be conservative, and trust that your offense can get at least an outfield fly ball.
But lost in the rush was a different coaching decision…or the decision not the be one. Jhonny Peralta was in the on-deck circle when Delmon Young hit that double. The problem was…he was still there as Fielder headed home. If he had done what many players do, he would’ve been in Fielder’s field of vision and telling him to slide outside to avoid the tag coming in. Sure, Fielder should’ve realized that a tag was coming from where Posey was, but just another visual reinforcement to do that would’ve made that a run.
Peralta really failed his teammates there.
Giving Up By Getting Two Outs
This is a call more open to interpretation. With the bases loaded, Leyland had his team play back, he seemed to be effectively giving up a run in a scoreless game to get two outs.
I get this play.
Maybe Drew Smyly isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but a strikeout or a fly out are two likely ways to get an out with Crawford. And, frankly, the Cardinals kept trying to play in against the Giants, and it kept burning them by putting pressure on the defense that the defense couldn’t handle.
The Tigers have a defense that’s five steps down from St. Louis.
So Leyland decided to play it conservative. If he got an out without a run, great, but if he couldn’t get at least one out, the Giants could have had a major rally going.
So I get the decision. It was a risk, but frankly, there wasn’t a not-risk decision there.
But how they got there, is something that’s being called a break. Gregor Blanco’s bunt.
Sorry, that’s not a break. Sure, it’s impossible for any player to lay down a bunt that perfectly finds a hole between the third baseman, the catcher, the pitcher and all of foul ground. But the same could be said of a home run. Is every home run a break? No, a player works hard to get in the right position to hit one. The same thing is true of Blanco’s bunt. He’s a good bunter, and today, he had a home run bunt.
And, on that note, that was the greatest fair ball call I’ve ever seen. The crowd around the ball, including umpire Dan Iossanga. And everyone knows what’s happening. Hell, the ball outright stopped, and the ump was thinking “Wait, I think I see a centipede there, we need to see what happens.” Miguel Cabrera was halfway to cursing the baseball gods, and the ump was still waiting to see if @ATTSeagull was going to knock the ball foul with a well-aimed bomb. And finally, he decided the ball was indeed fair, and unleashed a fair call that made a lot of strikeout calls look tame.
Seriously, Iossanga acted like that was the hardest thing to decide that it wasn’t a foul since the Platypus.
The only break in this game went to the Tigers, when Scutaro’s headfirst slid into first base was called out, when he was safe. Otherwise, this was a game that went the Giants’ way, and a game decided by two great pitching performances.
Madison Bumgarner needed this. I wasn’t so sure that the statement that the coaches magically ‘fixed’ his mechanical issues wasn’t the kind of gamesmanship that the NFL’s injury report has become. It seemed unlikely. I felt a little more sure when the Giants burned Tim Lincecum in Game 1, but still, I wasn’t sure. That was Bumgarner’s comeback moment. It was amazing.
By the same token, I have nothing but respect for Doug Fister. I don’t think anyone in the Bay Area didn’t think of Brandon McCarthy when that happened. No one wants to see an injury happen, especially that one. And it didn’t hurt that he’s a local kid and was a Giants fan growing up. I’ve got to root for him. And he took that ball to the head, he stayed in, and he pitched a fantastic game.
From a Giants fan, Doug, great job. Nothing but respect.
I can’t believe there’s a day off tomorrow. I’m so ready for Game 3.