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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.