Giants

EXTRA BAGGS: Giving rope to Bumgarner, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Giving rope to Bumgarner, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO Madison Bumgarner had gotten henpecked formore than a month.

His stuff had turned flat and stale, his delivery stretchedout like jeans after a fourth wearing and fewer and fewer baseballs found theirway into Buster Poseys mitt.

But Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti was confident thatthree side sessions gave Bumgarner enough twine to hold together his mechanics.And in Game 2 of the World Series, Bumgarner was able to rope all the BigBossies in the Detroit Tigers lineup.

He allowed two hits in seven shutout innings while strikingout eight in the Giants 2-0 victory. And he was the same ol Bumgarner whenasked to compare his outing with his previous two, in which he had an 11.25ERA.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Giants ride Bumgarner to 2-0 win in Game 2

I went into the seventh inning instead of getting took outin the third, he said, busting up the assembly in the interview room.

Bumgarner didnt seem to have two-hit stuff. Some fastballs over the plate were fouled off, others were hit hard for outs and one off the bat of Miguel Cabrera probably came close to breaking the sound barrier before it nearly vaporized Pablo Sandoval's glove at third base.

But Bumgarner had the most finish on his slider in a month, he kept throwing them to various locations, and that was enough to keep the Tigers off theirgame. It was the kind of outing that was familiar for Bumgarner during theregular season, when he allowed just five home runs over 15 starts at AT&TPark.

In his first two playoff starts, he'd gotten tagged for three home runs.

The only difference was being able to make pitches,Bumgarner said. I hadnt been able to do that and tonight, Buster (Posey) caughta great game and the defense did great. They hit some balls hard and ithappened to be in the right spot.

Once again, Giants manager Bruce Bochys confidence in acore player was rewarded. Game 2 was supposed to be the "scramble game" for a Giants rotation that had been pushed to the brink in the NLCS while the Tigers played tiddlywinks with prospects. The Tigers set everything up to their liking. The Giants used the only rested pitcher they had.

The Tigers managed two hits -- the fewest allowed by the Giants in their 107 WorldSeries games in franchise history.

Hes done such a great job for us, said Bochy of Bumgarner, who had been pulled from the NLCS rotation after Game 1. I really thought heneeded a break, and I thought he benefited from it mentally and physically, andhe went out there and pitched like we know he can.

His delivery was simpler, it was more compact and I thinkhe was able to get the ball where he wanted tonight because of that.

Was he really that good?

Well, I think he just had a pretty determined look on hisface tonight, Tigers manager Jim Leyand said. He made some good pitches whenhe had to. He probably got pumped up a little bit, but he ended up pitching agood game and we didnt do very much with him. I tip my hat to him as well.

RELATED: Tigers tip their caps to Giants' pitching

If the Tigers really can't hit lefties, the rest of this series shapes up well for the Giants. Barry Zito and Bumgarner have allowed just one runover 12 23 innings in two World Series starts. And theyd be lined up to pitchagain in Games 5 and 6, should this affair get that far.

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Baseball has a sense of humor, or irony, or something.

Ever since reporting day in spring training, weve asked about and wondered howBuster Posey would handle plays at the plate. Bumgarner was on record early saying he wouldnt mindgiving away a few runs as a devils bargain to keep Posey from gettingobliterated, as he did last season by the Florida Marlins Scott Cousins.

Sure enough, Posey has set up so far in front of the platethat hes probably cost the Giants somewhere on the order of a half-dozen runs during the regular season.

But what about a World Series game? What about a stage important enough where its worth it to risk a collision to save a run? I askedPosey before the postseason began if hed modify his positioning for plays atthe plate. He said it wouldnt make any sense to change the way hes donesomething all season. He didn't think it would be a big deal, really.

So what happens in Game 2? Not only does Posey get a play atthe plate, but it involves Prince Fielder who collided with Eli Whitesidejust a couple days after the Posey play last May. Fielder blew up former Giant ToddGreene in a home-plate collision a few years before that, too.

Given the principal participants alone, it set up forcomplete and utter disaster.

But Marco Scutaros throw didnt carry Posey into thebaseline, and Posey was able to reach back and apply his swipe tag at the lastinstant before Fielders cleats touched the plate. Posey executed that playjust as he practiced it, and emerged none the worse for wear.

RELATED: Posey avoids collision as 'perfect' relay sparks Giants win

In the end, Posey was right. He played the way he practiced, and something good happened for the Giants.

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Credit umpire Dan Iassogna with a terrific call at theplate on Fielder, by the way. Good umpires are not noticed, but its important to note that Iassognawas in great position and made the right call on a tough play.

First base umpire Fieldin Culbreath blew a call on Scutaro,though, when he tried to dive headfirst to beat out an infield single. Scutarowas called out; he was clearly safe on the replay.

There are repercussions. Denied his rightful hit, Scutaros postseason hitting streakended at 11, tying him with Irish Meusel atop the Giants franchise list.

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Gregor Blanco wasnt shocked by Pablo Sandovals three-homerperformance in Game 1. Blanco watched a few years ago when Sandoval crushedpitch after pitch to win the Pepsi Home Run Derby as part of the Venezuelanwinter league.

Sandoval beat Miguel Cabrera in the finals.

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I finally got 20 seconds with Sandoval (which is noeasy task these days!) and asked him what he writes in the dirt just prior tothe first pitch, then wipes away with his hand before tossing the dirt in theair.

God, he said.

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I told Brian Wilson that the Giants need to lose two ofthree in Detroit for his midsummer prediction a clinching Game 6 victory onHalloween night to come true.

We can move it up, he said. Well have the parade onHalloween.

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Zito and Bumgarner are the first leftyteammates to start and win the first two games of a World Series since 1981,when Ron Guidry and Tommy John did so for the Yankees.

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The very best news of the night is that Tigers right-hander Doug Fister appearsto be OK. Lets not laud anyones toughness for playing after sustaining headtrauma of any kind. Lets just be glad hes all right, by all accounts.

RELATED: Doug Fister overcomes terrifying moment

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The last eight teams to go up 2-0 in the World Series havegone on to win the championship. In fact, 14 of the last 15 teams to meet thatcriteria have emerged with the flag-studded trophy.

The lone exception is the 1996 Atlanta Braves, who droppedtheir next four to the Yankees.

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The Giants, in case you were wondering, have gone up 2-0four times in franchise history. They won the World Series all four times: 1922vs. the Yankees, 1933 vs. the Senators, 1954 vs. the Indians and 2010 vs. theRangers.

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The Tigers, meanwhile, are down 0-2 in the World Series forthe first time since 1908. The Chicago Cubs went on to beat them that season.

Its been a rough 104 years for Cubs fans since then.

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Last word, Tim Flannery?

As the great Carlos Santana the guitar player, not thecatcher said in 2010, sometimes you need to know when to get out of the wayof yourself, Flannery said. And tonight was one of those moments.

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

SAN FRANCISCO — The excitement could be heard in Bruce Bochy’s voice as he spoke on a conference call Tuesday afternoon, which was understandable. Bochy used 136 different lineups last season, largely because the Giants never found permanent solutions in the outfield or at third base. 

Since the final game of a 98-loss season, the front office has handed Bochy an everyday third baseman in Evan Longoria, a star in right field in Andrew McCutchen, and a versatile outfield option in Austin Jackson. With every new addition, Bochy has tinkered with the lineup bouncing around his head. He isn’t ready to reveal anything publicly, but he said the new-look staff is already discussing lineup options. 

“It’s going to be probably toward the end of spring training until we have this lineup down,” Bochy said. “It’s a different lineup, as you know. I’ll see or we will see what makes the most sense.”

In McCutchen and Longoria, the Giants added two guys used to hitting right in the heart of the order. After the Longoria deal, Bochy did say he would like to hit Longoria in front of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Since then, McCutchen has given him another option, and a lot more could still change. 

Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans would like to add one more center fielder, and it’s possible that player can lead off. Steven Duggar could win the job in camp, and with his speed and strong eye at the plate, he would be an ideal leadoff option. That is, however, a lot of pressure for a rookie, and Bochy mentioned McCutchen and Jackson as options atop the lineup. Both hit there quite a bit earlier in their careers, but McCutchen hasn’t been a leadoff hitter since 2011 and Jackson has just 56 starts there the last three years. Joe Panik and Hunter Pence also have experience leading off for Bochy, and it’s possible the top of the lineup could change depending on the opposing pitcher.  

“I’ve always liked to have the versatility or flexibility to mix it a little bit,” Bochy said. “Maybe it’s a matchup thing or lefty-righty.”

It will be a lefty, Clayton Kershaw, staring in at the Giants on opening day. So for now, here’s a guess at the group Bochy will send out there at Dodger Stadium … 

1. Andrew McCutchen RF
2. Joe Panik 2B
3. Evan Longoria 3B
4. Buster Posey C
5. Brandon Belt 1B
6. Hunter Pence LF
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Austin Jackson CF
9. Madison Bumgarner LHP

Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder

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USATSI

Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had a glaring hole in center field after the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen and his subsequent move to right field, so it stood out when a press release to announce the signing of Austin Jackson included the words “depth at all three outfield positions.”

A day later, team officials made it clear that Jackson is not necessarily the final piece of the puzzle, or even the solution in center field. After mentioning several times that it was a strategic signing, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean gave a blunt answer when asked about Jackson’s role. 

“Did we get him to be our everyday center fielder? Probably not,” Sabean said. “I don’t know that in his recent history he’s been able to go out there in that fashion.”

Jackson played just 54 games in 2016 and 85 last season for the Indians. The Giants see him as a complementary piece, someone who can handle plenty of time in center, spell McCutchen and Hunter Pence in the corners, and give them a dangerous bat against left-handed pitchers. 

It seemed that was a role that would mostly go to Austin Slater, but the Giants gave Jackson a two-year deal for $6 million, basically wiping out the rest of their room under the tax line. They will not be significantly involved in free agency from this point on, which leaves two options for one more outfield addition. 

Steven Duggar was mentioned over and over again on Tuesday’s conference call, and the Giants will give the prospect a chance to win a significant role this spring. It’s possible that Duggar and Jackson could form a platoon, but before committing to that, the front office will look to add a third offseason addition via trade. 

“There are still some fronts that we are pursuing with minimum-service type of players, which are low in salary,” Sabean said. “We’ll flush out other possibilities.”

Evans has spent months laying the groundwork for multiple deals, and the front office remains confident that one more outfielder can be added via trade. The player would have to be young and pre-arbitration to line up financially with the rest of the offseason work.

If that doesn’t end up happening, Bruce Bochy won’t be too upset. Bochy said he couldn’t be happier with the work Sabean and Evans have done to overhaul an outfield that was unfathomably bad on both sides of the ball last season. If Jackson is the final piece, Bochy is ready to make it work. 

“Right now, as we start the season, I think you’ll see Austin out in center field as much as anything,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at when we break camp, but that’s a need for us out there in center. As we break camp, we’ll know where we’re at with other options, Gorkys (Hernandez) or Duggar. But center field is where (Jackson) will spend most of his time this spring.”