The greatest offense the MLB had to offer in 2012 has been completely shut down through the first two games of the World Series.
They’ve been shut down not by the top pitching staff in all of baseball, but by a team whose biggest weakness heading into the World Series was arguably their starting pitching.
A left-for-dead Barry Zito and a struggling Madison Bumgarner have sent the favored Detroit Tigers into a 2-0 hole to start the World Series.
After a start against the Cardinals that left many wondering whether or not he would be given the nod in the World Series, Bumgarner torched the very lethal Tigers lineup for just two hits allowed in seven innings.
It turned out Bumgarner’s recent woes were simply mechanical, and not because of the tired and over-worked arm of a 23-year-old.
However, with Bumgarner locked in, the Giants’ offense still needed to get to Tigers’ starter Doug Fister -- something easier said than done on Thursday night.
Even after a line drive taken off the head, Fister did not miss a step, battling Bumgarner inning for inning and creating an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel in the World Series.
It took a managerial misstep, in hindsight, for the either team to score their first runs of the game.
After a Hunter Pence single off Fister to lead-off the seventh inning, Fister and his 114 pitches were relieved by Drew Smyly, who walked Brandon Belt right away to put runners at first and second base.
Gregor Blanco’s near perfect bunt down the third base line, intended to move the runners over, stayed fair despite Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila and Smyly’s baffled glares.
So with the bases loaded and no outs, Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland decided to push the infield back and play for the double play -- a move that was rather American League-esque in afterthought.
Brandon Crawford gave them what they wanted, a 4-6-3 tailor-made double play that scored Pence and gave the Giants a 1-0 lead.
Was Leyland playing his cards right on that one?
The defensive set-up suggested Leyland had more faith in the Tigers scoring a run in the final two innings off San Francisco’s shut-down bullpen than getting out of the seventh inning with limited damage.
It turned out Detroit never got those runs off the Giants’ bullpen, and San Francisco’s one run was all they needed on Thursday night to secure the win, 2-0.
The Giants did add another run of insurance in the eighth inning off a Pence sacrifice fly to score Angel Pagan, but Leyland seemed to miss the importance of every pitch and every run in the World Series with that play in the seventh inning -- a play the Tigers may look back on and regret wholeheartedly.
And so the Giants head on the road to Detroit with a 2-0 series lead and a rather high success rate on the road.
Their most recent roadtrip supplied them with a Zito gem and all the momentum in the world to sweep the Cardinals at home in the NLCS.
The roadtrip before that supplied them with three straight wins over the Reds to advance to the NLCS.
The Giants thrive on the road, based on the fact any ballpark is bigger than AT&T Park, and the simple peace and calm they get from being on their own at the home team’s venue.
Even more, the Giants’ undoubted best pitcher Ryan Vogelsong will be on the mound, coming off a two-win performance in the NLCS.
Detroit has their hands full with the Giants in the World Series at the moment, and it will take all the body mass in their lineup to stop the Giants’ freight train in their tracks the rest of this series.