x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

San Francisco Giants keep the bunting up

World Series leaders are happy to just go on with the momentum against the favourite Detroit Tigers.

Pablo Sandoval, right, celebrates his two home runs with his San Francisco Giants teammates.
Pablo Sandoval, right, celebrates his two home runs with his San Francisco Giants teammates.

As if the St Louis Cardinals failed to do a good enough job making this clear last October, here come the San Francisco Giants. Momentum is everything, come play-offs time.

The Giants carry a 2-0 lead to Detroit, where the World Series resumes tonight, on great starting pitching and momentum.

Man for man, the Giants might not stack up against the Tigers, who will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound against Ryan Vogelsong for Game 3.

But as a team, the Giants have had all the answers.

San Francisco had won six consecutive elimination games entering the World Series; they trailed the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 in the division series and St Louis 3-1 in the National League Championship Series.

They entered the World Series on the attack, rolling up five runs on Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

The Giants' third baseman Pablo Sandoval, known affectionately as "Kung Fu Panda" for his girth, became a household name during the opener.

He hit three home runs, joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to do that in a World Series game.

Compared to those other three, Sandoval may be punching above his considerable weight; he hit only 12 home runs during the regular season.

The breaks the Giants have been taking advantage of make it difficult to argue against the nebulous concept of "momentum".

How else do we explain the trajectory of the three-run double that hit three times off Hunter Pence's broken bat in the first game? Or Angel Pagan's double off the third-base bag earlier in that contest?

Or the bunt by Gregor Blanco one night later that managed to come to a stop four inches fair inside the third-base line?

Blanco's bunt for a base hit loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning, and the Giants took the first lead of the game even as Brandon Crawford hit into a double play. The Giants won 2-0.

"It seems like the game is on our side right now," Blanco told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"If it takes a bunt single to win the World Series, so be it. We'll take it."

The Tigers were supposed to have the advantage by being able to line up their rotation after sweeping the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

But their Nos 1 and 2 starters, Verlander and Doug Fister, took a back seat to the San Francisco left-handers Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner, who allowed one run, between them, in 12.1 innings.

The Tigers offence will try to regroup against Vogelsong and Matt Cain, considered San Francisco's best pitchers.

"It's no time to put your head down," the Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera told the Chronicle. "We're going try go out there more aggressive at home, trying to win the first one. If we win the first one I think it's going to be a different story."


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