Madison Bumgarner delivers as Giants top Tigers in Game 2, take 2-0 lead in World Series

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Coming into tonight, many questioned whether Madison Bumgarner was the right choice for Game 2 after his late-season struggles carried into the postseason. However, Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided to roll the dice with his young left-hander after some mechanical tweaks rather than go with Ryan Vogelsong on short rest or Tim Lincecum. It was a pretty good call.

Bumgarner delivered seven shutout innings tonight as the Giants topped the Tigers 2-0 in Game 2 to grab a 2-0 lead in the World Series.

This wasn’t a thoroughly dominating performance by Bumgarner, as there were a number of hard-hit balls and some ugly at-bats and baserunning blunders by the Tigers, but he was plenty efficient. Averaging a tick over 89 mph on his fastball, he allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out eight and throwing 54 out of 86 pitches for strikes. This was the first time he had completed seven innings in start since August 20.

The Tigers were held to just two hits all night and they came up empty in their lone scoring threat. Bumgarner hit Prince Fielder with a pitch to begin the top of the second inning before Delmon Young doubled into the left field corner. However, the rally was snuffed out after Fielder was gunned down at home plate on the play. Third base coach Gene Lamont probably wishes he could have that one back.

Doug Fister was excellent for the Tigers, even staying in the game after being hit in the head by a line drive in the second inning, but he just didn’t get any help from his offense. He was pulled in the top of the seventh inning after giving up a leadoff single to Hunter Pence, who eventually scored on a double-play grounder off the bat of Brandon Crawford. Pence later added some insurance with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning. Yes, one day after getting three home runs from Pablo Sandoval, the Giants scored two runs in the ugliest way possible. Still, a win is a win.

The Tigers appeared to have the advantage with the pitching matchups in San Francisco, but they’ll head home down 0-2. The World Series will resume Saturday night in Detroit when Anibal Sanchez starts for the Tigers and Vogelsong pitches for the Giants.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.

The Rays gave Seth Smith a little league homer last night

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:

Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.

Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.

Watch:

 

I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.

Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.