Madison Bumgarner AP

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

21 Comments

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.

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
6 Comments

On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.