SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The San Francisco Giants played small-ball to perfection and blanked the Detroit Tigers 2-0 on Thursday to make a bold move in pursuit of their second World Series title in three years.
San Francisco managed only five hits, all singles, but scored on a double-play in the seventh and a sacrifice fly an inning later to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
”It’s the best of seven, we’re up 2‑0,“ Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters. ”That’s the way we have to look at it. It’s the best of seven. It’s great to get off to a good start.
“We’re heading to Detroit and playing in their ballpark, and you keep pushing. That’s what you do at this point. We don‘t, believe me, take anything for granted,” he added.
“You go out there and you play hard every game, and two days from now is our biggest game, and that’s how we approach it.”
Of the 52 times a team has taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series, 41 have gone on to win the crown. Game Three is at Comerica Park in Detroit on Saturday.
Hunter Pence was involved in both Giants runs, racing home from third on a bases-loaded double-play and then lofting a sacrifice fly to right that scored Angel Pagan.
Pence played down the importance of winning the first two games before the series shifts to Motown for the next three, if necessary.
“It means we’ve got two more wins,” he said. “That’s the goal. And they’ve still got four. I try to keep it as simple as possible. The team that wins four games wins the World Series, and we’ve got to stay as focused as ever and continue to push.”
Detroit was held to two hits by Giants starter Madison Bumgarner and relievers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, failing to reach second base after the second inning.
Bumgarner, who got the win, had been yanked from the starting rotation after a horrible performance in Game One of the National League Championship Series against St. Louis.
“The biggest thing was just mixing it in and out and up and down, trying to keep them off balance the best we could,” said Bumgarner, who entered the game 0-2 during the postseason with a lofty 11.25 earned run average.
“Every pitch felt pretty good tonight. Felt a lot better than it has been the last few games.”
The Tigers’ lone offensive threat came in the second when Delmon Young doubled into the left-field corner but Prince Fielder, trying to score from first, was nailed at the plate on a relay throw to Buster Posey by second baseman Marco Scutaro.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland scoffed at the notion that the Giants have had luck on their side in the first two games, saying “they’ve earned everything they’ve got”.
”Up to this point they’ve outplayed us,“ he said. ”They did a little bit better than us today. They did quite a bit better than us yesterday. But I always tip my hat.
“I mean, they’re playing good. They’re playing like the Giants play, and we expected that coming in. They’re good. They’re really good.”
San Francisco won the World Series in 2010 with a five-game demolition of the Texas Rangers.
The Giants, who beat the Tigers 8-3 in Wednesday’s series opener, recovered from two-game hole with three straight wins to beat Cincinnati in the best-of-five National League Division Series.
In the Championship Series, they won another three do-or-die games to down the St Louis Cardinals.
Bochy said “you go out there and you play hard and you see what happens” every time you suit up.
”You don’t really look at where you’re at,“ he said. ”You go out there to win every game. And if you do that and do it in the right way, you’ll see where you’re at when it’s all over.
”Don’t get caught up in you’re 2 and 0 or 0 and 2. You go out there and play hard for nine innings.
“These guys did a great job of it in Cincinnati and St. Louis, and that’s the way we have to keep doing it here.”
Tigers starter Doug Fister was an unlucky loser, giving up just four hits and one run over six innings.
Editing by John O'Brien