Giants take Game 2 over Tigers

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Giants take Game 2 over Tigers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A Giant dose of small ball, and suddenly San Francisco finds itself in a most unique position - way ahead in a postseason series.

Madison Bumgarner shut down the Detroit Tigers for seven innings, then the Giants took advantage of a bunt that stayed fair to eke out the go-ahead run in a 2-0 win Thursday night for a 2-0 edge in the World Series.

Gregor Blanco's single trickled to a stop inches fair on the infield dirt, setting up Brandon Crawford's run-scoring double-play grounder in the seventh. Hunter Pence added a sacrifice fly in the eighth, and that was plenty for the Giants.

Game 3 will be Saturday night in Detroit and for once, the masters of the October comeback aren't playing from behind. The Giants overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat Cincinnati in the best-of-five division series and escaped a 3-1 hole against St. Louis in the NLCS.

The loss certainly left the favored Tigers wondering what else could go wrong. Prince Fielder was thrown out at the plate by a hair and moments later starting pitcher Doug Fister was struck squarely in the head by a line drive.

The 6-foot-8 Fister managed to stay on the mound, and even excelled. Bumgarner more than matched him, however, allowing just two hits before the San Francisco bullpen closed it out before another pulsating crowd.

Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect eighth and Sergio Romo worked the ninth for a save in the combined two-hitter, leaving Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in a huge hole heading back to Comerica Park. Anibal Sanchez will start for the Tigers against Ryan Vogelsong in Detroit.

The Tigers looked foggy at the plate, maybe still lost following a five-day layoff after an ALCS sweep of the Yankees. Cabrera hopped up and twisted away after third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who homered three times in the opener, snared his early line drive.

Bumgarner had something to do with the Tigers' troubles, too.

Bumped from the NLCS rotation after two poor postseason starts, he returned with a flourish. The left-hander struck out eight and looked as sharp as he did in the 2010 World Series when, as a 21-year-old rookie, he stopped Texas in Game 4 on the way to a championship.

This game was scoreless in the seventh when the Giants went ahead, right after actor Tom Hanks - a former peanut vendor at the nearby Oakland Coliseum - sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on the field.

Pence led off with a single and Fister departed, getting lots of hugs in the dugout. Rookie reliever Drew Smyly walked Brandon Belt on a full-count pitch and Blanco's bunt loaded the bases.

The Tigers kept their infield back up the middle, and had no play at the plate on Crawford's bouncer.

Pence added the insurance run the next inning with his flyball off Octavio Dotel.

Fielder and the Tigers came up inches short of taking an early lead, the result of yet another alert play by second baseman Marco Scutaro and a dubious decision by third base coach Gene Lamont.

Fielder was hit by a pitch to lead off the second, Delmon Young followed with a double and when the ball rattled around in left field, Lamont waved the burly slugger home. Even with no outs, Lamont sent him.

Scutaro, in the middle of every big play for the Giants this month, dashed across the diamond, caught Blanco's relay and unleashed a strong throw to the plate. All-Star catcher Buster Posey made a swipe tag to Fielder's backside, just as the Tigers star slid home. Umpire Dan Iassogna had a clear look and made a demonstrative call - out!

Fielder immediately popped up from his slide and pleaded his case with two hands. Tigers manager Jim Leyland rushed out and pointed to the plate. At second base, Young yelled, "No!"

But even if there was replay review, it wouldn't have helped the Tigers. Because TV replays showed Iassogna, working his first plate job in a World Series, got it right.

There was no dispute that Fister somehow avoided a serious injury moments later.

With two outs in the Giants second, Blanco lined a shot up the middle that hit Fister on the right side of the head and deflected on the fly to shallow center field.

Fister showed no visible effect from the blow - in fact, some in the crowd wondered whether the ball perhaps glanced off his glove because Fister stayed on his feet. Only when fans saw replays did groans echo around the ballpark.

Leyland, pitching coach Jeff Jones and a trainer went to the mound, and Fister insisted on staying in the game. He walked the next batter to load the bases, but retired Bumgarner on a popup, starting a streak of 12 straight hitters set down by Fister.

Among those who winced was Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who sustained a skull fracture and brain contusion after being hit by a line drive last month.

"I'm not watching but did just see the replay. Certainly hope he's ok," McCarthy tweeted.

NOTES: Bumgarner struck out Austin Jackson and Omar Infante to start the game. Two other Giants fanned the first two batters in a Series game: Christy Mathewson (1905) and Carl Hubbell (1933). ... Bumgarner picked off Infante at first base to end the fourth. Infante made a break for second and, like Fielder earlier, came up short with his slide. ... Scutaro was the only Giants hitter to have previously faced Fister. ... Posey has a hit in all seven World Series games in his career.

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Scouting reports on Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and newly acquired White Sox prospects

Scouting reports on Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and newly acquired White Sox prospects

The White Sox rebuild is in full effect.

Rick Hahn & Co. have traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in exchange for eight prospects in a span of two days.

Take a look at scouting reports for all eight players.

Yoan Moncada, 21, 2B — No. 1 prospect on MLB.com

(Acquired from Red Sox for Sale)

"Moncada brings a tantalizing blend of physicality, power, speed and athleticism as a switch-hitter with defensive versatility, making him one of the most dynamic prospects in the game. He projects as a plus offensive force, a plus defender at either second base or third base, and a plus runner capable of wreaking havoc on the basepaths. The one big area of his game that needs improvement is his plate discipline, which was exposed after he struck out 12 times in 20 plate appearances with the Red Sox. Despite that poor showing, he demonstrated patience throughout the minors and has shown a propensity for making quick adjustments before. He could start 2017 in Triple-A, but very well could break camp with the White Sox and solidify himself as a starter from day one in his new organization." — (Baseball America)

Lucas Giolito, 21, RHP — No. 3 prospect on MLB.com

(Acquired from Nationals for Eaton)

"The 2012 first-round pick and four-time BA Top 100 prospect made his long-awaited major league debut in 2016 but struggled, getting rocked for 26 hits and 16 earned runs in 21.1 innings, with more walks (12) than strikeouts (11). Giolito in the past sat in the upper 90s with his fastball and frequently reached triple-digits, but saw his stuff back up and sit in the 92-94 mph range and top out at 96 in 2016 with poor command. That fastball gave Giolito his biggest problems in 2016, with MLB opponents batting .349 against it with a .730 slugging percentage, per Statcast. While his fastball stalled, he still limited big league hitters to sub-.200 averages on his curveball (.167) and changeup (.143). The Tommy John survivor has seen his prospect stock fall in light of his recent struggles, but if he can rediscover his fastball velocity still projects as one of the most promising young righthanders in baseball. Scouts reported issues with his mechanics and pitchability this year, but both are correctable issues that should lead to improved command once they are solved." —​ (Baseball America)

Michael Kopech, 20, RHP — No. 30 prospect on MLB.com

(Acquired from Red Sox for Sale)

"Kopech is the latest in a long line of big, hard-throwing Texas righthanders, with a 98 mph fastball that routinely gets up to triple-digits and recently hit 102 in the Arizona Fall League. The 33rd overall pick in 2014 is more than just a thrower though, with an 87 mph power slider and 91 mph changeup that both made significant progress throughout the 2016 season and give him two quality offerings to confound batters even further. Taken on the surface, his raw stuff draws comparisons to Noah Syndergaard. Kopech does come with red flags, however. In 2015 he was suspended 50 games for amphetamine use and in spring training 2016 he broke his hand in an altercation with a teammate. If he can harness his talent without any more incidents, Kopech profiles as a possible No. 1 starter." —​ (Baseball America)

Reynaldo Lopez, 22, RHP — No. 38 prospect on MLB.com

(Acquired from Nationals for Eaton)

"Lopez entered 2016 as the Nationals’ second-best pitching prospect behind Giolito, but by the end of the year had surpassed him in the eyes of most evaluators. Lopez is just 6-foot, 185-pounds but possesses an electric 95-97 mph fastball that touched 100 in his major league debut in 2016, and backs it up with a low 80s curveball that grades plus, as well as an upper-80s changeup. Lopez’s biggest bugaboo is his command, which wavers at times and resulted in 4.5 walks per nine innings once he got to the majors. Still, the quality of his stuff allowed him to survive in both a relief and starting role once he got to Washington, and he gives the White Sox a young, major-league ready, power righthander to pair with lefties Jose Quintana—assuming he’s not traded—and Carlos Rodon." —​ (Baseball America)

Dane Dunning, 21, RHP

(Acquired from Nationals for Eaton)

"The Nationals drafted Dunning 29th overall this past June and signed him for $2 million after he was a core piece of Florida’s dominant pitching staff. Dunning bounced between starting and relieving in college but has the stuff to be a starter, with a low-90s fastball that gets up to 95 mph and a changeup and slider that both have a chance to be average. He demonstrated impeccable control at Florida and continued it with a 32-to-7 strikeout to walk mark over 33.2 innings in his pro debut. With strikeout stuff, plus control and a prime pedigree, Dunning has a chance to move quickly up the White Sox system and help sooner than later in Chicago." —​ (Baseball America)

Luis Alexander Basabe, 20, OF 

(Acquired from Red Sox for Sale)

"Basabe signed with the Red Sox along with his twin brother Luis Alejandro out of Venezuela when they were 16. They climbed the system together until this year, when Luis Alejandro was traded to the Diamondbacks midseason for Brad Ziegler. Now, Luis Alexander is on the move too after reaching high Class A as a 19-year old and solidifying himself as one of Boston’s top 10 prospects. He is a switch-hitter with the speed and athleticism to stick in center field, and his 25 stolen bases in 30 attempts last season are a testament to how his speed plays on the basepaths. Basabe is still very raw and refining his game, particularly his plate discipline and strike-zone judgement, but has shown the skill set to become a top of the order center fielder down the road." —​ (Baseball America)

Victor Diaz, 22, RHP

(Acquired from Red Sox for Sale)

"Diaz has a power fastball in the 96-100 mph range, an 87-90 mph slider that is his main secondary pitch, a riding two-seamer and a splitter in its nascent stages. He is still learning how to harness his arsenal after issuing 41 walks in his first 90 career innings. If he does that, he becomes a bona fide closer prospect down the road." —​ (Baseball America)

How Cubs convinced themselves Wade Davis would be worth the health risk

How Cubs convinced themselves Wade Davis would be worth the health risk

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Dayton Moore, the straight-shooting general manager of the Kansas City Royals, took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to give Wade Davis a physical exam before closing the deal for a World Series closer.

Cubs athletic trainer PJ Mainville met Davis on Wednesday in New York’s Hudson Valley, where he met his future wife near the beginning of his professional career and still keeps an offseason home. The Cubs wanted to follow up on the flexor strain in his right forearm that twice put Davis on the disabled list this year.  

Information is the currency at the winter meetings and the Davis rumors buzzed around the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. By that afternoon, Moore and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer were up on stage in a huge hotel ballroom outside Washington, D.C., for the press conference announcing the Davis-for-Jorge Soler trade.

Cubs officials will now check out of this sprawling hotel on Thursday with most of the holiday shopping for the World Series champs already done, absolutely believing that Davis will be worth the risk.  

“There’s nothing more we can do,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said while meeting with the Chicago media in one of the team’s suites. “At this point, we’ve pored through the medical extensively. We’ve seen all the MRIs. We’ve physically examined him ourselves. 

“We’ve tracked every pitch he threw through the course of the season.”

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters and the idea that pitching goes poof. The Cubs viewed position players as safer investments that could be cashed in for whatever pitching needs might arise in the future. For Soler’s untapped potential and inconsistent production, the Cubs are getting a two-time All-Star with a 0.84 ERA through nine career playoff series.

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At a time when big-name closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen are looking to shatter the record four-year, $62 million contract the San Francisco Giants just handed Mark Melancon, the Cubs are only committed to Davis for one season at $10 million.

That will seem like a bargain if the way Davis finished this season – seven straight scoreless appearances – is the indicator. The Cubs are betting that the July discomfort is a reflection of fatigue/overuse and not a precursor to Tommy John surgery.    

“It’s important to look at how he came back,” Epstein said. “We spent a ton of time dissecting every pitch he threw in September, including seeing him walk off the field after his last outing. 

“He threw some 93-mph cutters and really good curveballs and blew some guys away with his fastball. And he looked like vintage Wade Davis. 

“We studied the whole arc of his season and his career and we’re very comfortable that it was something he dealt with midseason and is not going to be something that’s chronic.”

Davis – who had been originally groomed as a starter for the Tampa Bay Rays – already knows what it’s like to pitch for Joe Maddon and in October. The Cubs also understand the idea of a reliever with a spotless medical record is kind of like a unicorn. But if healthy, Davis can change the entire look and feel of what will be an eight-man bullpen. 

“It’s just the nature of bullpens,” Epstein said. “With relievers, it’s very rare to have someone who’s just healthy year after year after year without a DL stint for something. They’re all either coming off a year in which they had a DL stint – or they’re maybe a year or two away from going on the DL for something. 

“We have to be cognizant of the fact that we ride these guys pretty hard. Joe’s managerial style is to go to his guys (and) not be afraid to match up and use guys a lot. We played seven months last year – and we want to play seven months again this year.”