Friday, October 26, 2012
WPS Recap: World Series, Game 2Posted by Shane Tourtellotte
Game Two of the World Series, and the season is one game closer to its end. Enjoy this while you can, folks: it's a hundred umpteen days to pitchers and catchers.
Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 F Tigers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Giants 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 X 2 (Giants lead series 2-0) WPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Tigers 4 13 5 15 6 10 20 11 6 Giants 4 23 5 5 6 10 31 11 X WPS Base: 186.0 Best Plays: 31.6 Last Play: 0.9 Grand Total: 218.5
This one was better than San Francisco's last five games, but still not close to the median index of 300. Why did a tight game produce a low score? Two reasons. One, like those five games before it, the first team to score never relinquished the lead, never even fell back to a tie. The first run may as well have been the last. Two, the pitchers' duel between Madison Bumgarner and Doug Fister was a little too good. They rarely gave the opponents even a chance to score in an inning. Inevitability, even the appearance thereof, is the enemy of excitement.
One of those few early moments of danger came in the Tigers' second, when with none away, Prince Fielder tried to score from first on Delmon Young's double down the left-field line. A good relay by Marco Scutaro and a nifty tag by Buster Posey halted the runaway cement mixer a foot shy of glory. Beyond Fielder's widely-known unfamiliarity with the high end of the speedometer, it was a dubious situation to send a runner. Using Run Expectancy numbers for the 2012 season (from Baseball Prospectus), I calculate that sending the runner has to succeed 87.2 percent of the time to be a break-even play. A green light here was probably a bad idea.
It must be said that this play, and two others like it, squeezed through a loophole in the WPS system to appear less exciting than they were. When base advancement and an out combine in one play, the positive and negative elements cancel, and you're left with a much reduced score. The Fielder play was one example. Two others were the plays where the Giants scored their two runs. Hunter Pence scored in the seventh on a 4-6-3 double play by Brandon Crawford, and Angel Pagan came home in the eighth on Pence's sacrifice fly.
The game may have been decided by the varying quality of the shutout work the starting pitchers were doing. Madison Bumgarner threw just 72 pitches through six innings. Doug Fister had to throw 108 to get through six, and he was pulled after yielding a leadoff walk in the seventh. The Tigers bullpen, called on earlier, showed itself weaker. The first two Detroit relievers walked the first man they faced, contributing markedly to the Giants' runs in the seventh and eighth. Bumgarner, pulled only for a pinch hitter, was backed up by perfection from Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.
(By the way, Romo was truly impressive in filling air-time during his dugout interview with Buck and McCarver in the fourth inning. The man has a lot to say, and says it fast. The interview also confirmed that he's a bit of a nut, but this is fairly standard for relief pitchers, and he's probably still No. 2 in the pen behind Brian Wilson.)
Maybe I've started tuning out the announcers, because my Tim-ism file is not too thick. One he did produce was his amazement at Miguel Cabrera's pitch-by-pitch recall of an at-bat in the 2003 World Series where he homered off Roger Clemens, waxing rhapsodic over his incredible memory. Cabrera may have a great memory, but really. If I hit a home run off Rocket in the World Series, it'd be something I'd be reliving often, by myself and with others asking about it. That memory would be kept fresh with repeated recall, plus maybe the occasional look at the video. Let's see him remember an anonymous May 2007 game against the Devil Rays, and then I will be amazed.
I've noticed that, before the bottom of the first in each game this postseason, the PA at AT&T Park has been playing "Eye of the Tiger." I would suggest that the public address staff check the opponents' jerseys ... but really, can you say it's been hurting the home team here?
And finally, our Marlins fan was back in his appointed spot, and it does turn out that he is a Marlins fan, not a Giants backer who threw on the first orange shirt in reach. SB Nation actually interviewed the man, and Laurence Leavy sounds like a pretty good guy, so I gladly withdraw any slights on his character I may have made, suggested, or implied yesterday.
But I stand by calling the Marlins' new logo something out of Lovecraft. I mean, look how fast it drove Ozzie Guillen mad.
We reconvene on Saturday in Detroit. The Tigers, and the WPS Index, could use a nice jolt there.
Shane Tourtellotte is a long-time, occasionally-nominated science fiction writer, currently living in Asheville, North Carolina. He will tell you all about the baseball novel he’s shopping if you give him an inch.