RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The San Francisco Giants are one more win closer to a World Series title. Last night at home the Giants reverted to their preferred small ball style of play, scratching out hits and runs. They beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0, giving them a two-games-to-none lead as the series shifts back to Detroit. NPR's Tom Goldman has our report.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Pablo Sandoval, a.k.a. Kung Fu Panda, did not hit a home run last night. I figured it was worth a mention since that's pretty much all he did in Game One. In fact, no one came close to hitting a ball out of AT&T Park Thursday. The Tigers had a double, but that was it for offensive firepower. If Game One was a candy store of batting treats, highlighted by the Panda's three home runs, last night was the store after a Halloween run.
Here's what passed for a highlight from the stats handed out to journalists midway through the game. San Francisco catcher Buster Posey's second inning single made him the ninth player in Giants history to hit safely in at least seven straight World Series games.
The other Giants included High Pockets Kelly in 1924. The hard-working stats people did not explain why George Kelly was nicknamed High Pockets. Turns out it was because he was six feet four, which was really tall back then. I researched that myself, while waiting for someone to score.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)
GOLDMAN: The Giants finally did score when Brandon Crawford hit into a double play and drove in teammate Hunter Pence. That moment in the bottom of the seventh inning was set up by the kind of baseball that's become San Francisco's trademark - call it small ball, slap and score. It happened in the seventh with a single by Pence, followed by a walk, and then Gregor Blanco's bunt that loaded the bases.
Depending on how this series turns out, that bunt may end up being one of the key moments. And it was a ball that travelled only about 40 feet. Here's Hunter Pence.
HUNTER PENCE: He got into a good count and put one of the most beautiful bunts you'll see.
GOLDMAN: And here's Detroit catcher Gerald Laird, one of several Tigers who surrounded the bunt as it rolled down the third baseline, waiting for it to cross the line foul, which it never did.
GERALD LAIRD: Yeah, he made a perfect bunt and he kind of just hit something soft. It stayed right there. I mean it's just one of those things where, you know, the breaks aren't going our way.
GOLDMAN: In Game One it was the ball that caromed off third base that started a game-changing rally for the Giants. Last night it was the ball that stayed straight. Yes, the breaks are going San Francisco's way, but luck is only part of the winning equation. Good pitching helps a lot and the Giants got another dose of it last night.
Starter Madison Bumgarner had been pretty woeful in this post-season, so much that he was taken out of the rotation in the National League Championship Series. He was back in last night, and thanks to some mechanics tweaking, he was his good self, pitching seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts.
Bumgarner said he got an early confidence boost in the second inning, when Detroit's Prince Fielder, trying to score, was thrown out at home plate by the slightest margin.
MADISON BUMGARNER: Yeah, that was huge. I think that might've been a, you know, momentum shifter for me, because I had some trouble, you know, in the second, third, fourth innings of the - in the last couple of starts. And defense bailed me out there and got me excited.
GOLDMAN: It really did, on the field. The Giants might be excited to know that 52 teams have taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series and 41 have finished the job with a championship. But you'll never catch this team relying on a stat like that. Not after facing six elimination games this post-season and winning them all. Now that the Tigers are in a hole, they'd do well to emulate the Giants as they try to beat them.
Tom Goldman, NPR News, San Francisco.