Curt Schilling spouts his evil bile, saying that Madison Bumgarner was "mediocre at best" and baseball experts across the country wonder what happened to the dominant Tigers team that swept the Yankees in 4 games. But I can't really get too mad at them for doubting the Giants, because I was one of those people just a few weeks ago.
Coming into this 2012 postseason I had doubt coming at me at all angles. Could the Giants go deep into a postseason without an established closer? Is there any chance of postseason success if Tim Lincecum does not somehow revive his 2010 version? Do the Giants win any games if Buster Posey can't produce?
Yes, yes and yes.
I honestly did not believe it and maybe I didn't even want to believe it. The 2010 Giants had power up and down the lineup. Torres, Sanchez, Posey, Huff, Burrell, Ross, Uribe, Renteria. With Posey as the only holdover from that 2010 World Series lineup, how were the Giants going to compete against perhaps even tougher competition in this year's playoffs? The lineup this year has been solid, but definitely not as intimidating as it was in 2010. Brandon Belt has shown some power at times, but was kept under 10 home runs on the year, and Brandon Crawford's success at the plate equated to a .248 batting average on the year. Gregor Blanco is great at defense, but he definitely doesn't have the presence of a Pat Burrell in your lineup and Hunter Pence is like Juan Uribe without the home runs, jazz hands and production.
But boy did this team surprise me. Angel Pagan has emerged as not just an offensive spark at the top of the lineup, but his defense has been spectacular as well. As he's told the media, he's the captain and the rest of the guys are the hunters. Marco Scutaro has been this year's Cody Ross without the home runs. He is as steady a presence at the 2 spot in the lineup as any and made the loss of Freddy Sanchez incredibly easy to bear. Pablo Sandoval is playing like none other this postseason and has quickly shown that he wants to be a big part of this year's run. Three home runs in Game 1 of the World Series can make that kind of statement. Buster Posey now 2 years older and coming off one of the most horrific injuries I've ever seen in sports is not only showing that he should be this year's MVP, but he's doing it even while slumping in the playoffs. His defense and handling of the pitching staff, especially Timmy and Barry Zito whom he did not catch much during the regular season, has been stellar.
Speaking of Barry Zito... HE IS 2-0 IN THE PLAYOFFS AND GOT THE WIN IN GAME 1 OF THE WORLD SERIES!
Yes, that happened. Another thing that happened was that Madison Bumgarner coming off a 9 game slump in which he never looked comfortable or effective from the mound pitched an amazing Game 2 in which he shutout the Tigers for 7 innings and now has 15 scoreless innings in his first 2 World Series appearances. Yeah no big deal, he's only 23 years old.
Last, but not least, the bullpen without Brian Wilson has been amazing and Sergio Romo has fit nicely into that closer role without even a hint of drama. If he had allowed even one baserunner on Thursday he would have had to face Miguel Cabrera, but he didn't even need that. Fly out, strike out, pop out, and he became the first person of Mexican descent to ever record a save in a World Series.
But it's not just the performances, but the breaks the Giants have gotten and capitalized on. Scott Rolen bobbles a ground ball so that Joaquin Arias can beat out the throw at 1st to get a run home. Lance Lynn hits the 2nd base bag on a sure double play ball to start a Giants' rally. Angel Pagan's chopper to third hits the third base bag and skitters out to left field for a double. And thursday's bunt single teetering down the fair territory side of the line by Gregor Blanco.
But don't believe for one second that this Giants team is content winning the first two in a row. Vogelsong and Cain do not plan on going back to San Francisco empty handed, and as good as my chicken enchilada tasted last night, this 2012 World Series title is gonna taste even better, and maybe even better than 2010.
Laws of the Day
Ryan Vogelsong might do better against righties as is usually the case, but not by much. Left handed batters hit .257 off Vogey in the regular season compared to .230 for right handed batters. Delmon Young, the most effective hitter so far for the Tigers only his .247 against right handed pitchers compared to .308 against lefties.