No, this is not a sci-fi movie plot about a panda-human hybrid doing battle at the “World Series of Death” where nations settle their disputes in a battle-torn dystopic future. This is about Pablo Sandoval (The SF Panda) showing us all that he is human after all. In Game 2 of the World Series he finally got an out or in this case two. The San Francisco Giants did beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0 behind great pitching, solid defense and a magical bunt to give themselves a series lead of the same count, 2-0.
Although the Panda didn’t continue his Babe Ruth-ian onslaught at the plate, he did get a single in his third plate appearance which came in the 6th. He would get on base again as he was shown respect by Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland who intentionally walked him in the 8th with one out after Angel Pagan stole 2nd. This happened just ahead of the next hitter Buster Posey, whom most see winning the National League MVP this year and shows who Leyland would rather face right now.
Photograph courtesy of Christian Acosta
Pablo did made a contribution defensively with a fine play at third in the top of the 4th with Miguel Cabrera at bat and Omar Infante on first base with no outs. The Panda reacted quickly as he reached out to his right with his glove hand to snare the liner from Cabrera. The play may have prevented a double and a run from scoring.
The defensive play of the game came two innings prior after Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch and Delmon Young stepped in. Young ripped the ball down the third base line and the ball caromed off the short wall in foul territory. Fielder was being waived in as Gregor Blanco got to the ball. As Blanco overthrew his cut off man Brandon Crawford, the ball ended up in the glove of Marco Scutaro who was backing up the play. Scutaro then fired a strike to home from behind third base on the inside of Fielder to Posey in front of home. Buster made a sweeping tag to touch Prince’s trailing foot before his lead foot could touch home on the slide.
The story of the night though was pitching. The Tigers were only shutout twice during the entire regular season which was the fewest in the majors and Thursday was just the second time it happened this postseason. It started with the nearly forgotten starter Madison Bumgarner who had a great outing allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks over 7 innings while striking out 8. For most of the game he was locked in a pitching duel with Doug Fister who also pitched very well. Santiago Casilla came on for a perfect 8th inning and Sergio Romo finished the game with a perfect 9th.
Madison’s resurgence after two rough starts this postseason shows a lot about his desire and will to win. His performance was also a testament to the genius that is Bruce Bochy.
As both teams travel to Detroit today we can look to see what we can expect in Game 3. Anibal Sanchez will take the mound for the Tigers Saturday and many Giants’ fans are already familiar with his resume. In his time with the Miami Marlins he was 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in his career against the Giants. Amonst those starts are two shutouts, one in 2010 and another in 2011.
The Panda has his work cut out for him if he wants to keep his dream postseason going against a pitcher he only has 1 hit against in 6 at bats. It seems Bochy will go with Hector Sanchez as the designated hitter in Game 3. If anything should happen to Posey and he should need to come out of the game, Sanchez would be unavailable to catch as the DH. This means Sandoval will be the back up catcher in the event an emergency should arise during Saturday’s game. Hector and Marco have never faced Anibal in their careers. Here are the career numbers against Sanchez for the rest of the should be Giants’ starters tomorrow.
On the other side the Tigers will face Ryan Vogelsong and will try to get their offense going. Vogelsong has been stellar this postseason going 2-0 with an ERA of 1.42 in 3 starts. The guy that absolutely owns Vogelsong is the Tigers’ second baseman. Infante is a remarkable 7-for-11 against him in his career and could be a difference maker.
With Anibal’s track record against the Giants and the fact that the Tigers lineup seems due break out, it seems like this is a game the Tigers are expecting to win. Whether they do or not is yet to be seen but if the Panda returns to being the baseball demigod he was in Game 1 then you just can’t count the Giants out of Game 3.
by Raul Rekow Jr.