Mechanics addressed, MadBum ready to go
Giants trust in left-hander's resiliency after rough starts in NLDS, NLCS
SAN FRANCISCO -- Asked recently to identify his favorite moment from the Giants' magical 2010 World Series title run, Buster Posey initially referred to the customary on-field celebration in the immediate afterglow of the final Game 5 triumph at Rangers Ballpark.
Pausing momentarily, Posey decided to amend his answer.
"No, I'd have to go with [Madison] Bumgarner's game," Posey said. "To get that kind of performance out of a 21-year-old kid with everything on the line ... that was the best. I'll always remember that."
Posey, a rookie like Bumgarner at the time, was behind the plate for Game 4 that night in Texas when the southpaw went eight innings to shut down the Rangers, 4-0. Posey homered in support of his batterymate, a towering drive to right-center off Darren O'Day.
That brilliant effort by Bumgarner, the 6-foot-5 lefty from North Carolina, set the stage for Tim Lincecum's clinching victory, setting off a celebration San Francisco had waited more than a half-century to unleash.
Posey will be a source of comfort for Bumgarner on Thursday night (4:30 p.m. PT air time on FOX, 5:07 PT first pitch) in World Series Game 2 against the Tigers as he tries to overcome two substandard postseason starts at AT&T Park. Fellow southpaw Barry Zito gave Bumgarner a blueprint for success with 5 2/3 resourceful innings of one-run work in the Giants' 8-3 Game 1 decision.
"It's always nice to have somebody like that back there," Bumgarner said when asked about Posey's presence. "He works extremely hard. He's one of the best catchers in the game already. He's been here before.
"You know, it makes it a lot easier on us pitchers to know that and have 100-percent confidence in the guy back there calling pitches and stuff. So, it's good."
Tale of the Tape: Game 2
|2012 regular season|
|Overall: 26 GS, 10-10, 3.45 ERA, 37 BB, 137 K||Overall: 32 GS, 16-11, 3.37 ERA, 49 BB, 191 K|
|Key stat: Despite earning two no-decisions, Fister has pitched to a 1.35 ERA this postseason. The Tigers have won both of his starts.||Key stat: Bumgarner will take the mound on 11 days' rest after allowing six runs to the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLCS.|
|At AT&T Park|
| 2012: 15 GS, 10-3, 2.38 ERA
Career: 41 GS, 19-12, 3.08 ERA
|Against this opponent|
Career: 1 GS, 0-0, 1.23 ERA
|Loves to face: Marco Scutaro: 1-for-11, 1 K
Hates to face: N/A
|Loves to face: Alex Avila: 0-for-3, 2 K
Hates to face: Prince Fielder: 3-for-7, 1 RBI
|Why he'll win: Fister owns a 1.98 career ERA against the National League.||Why he'll win: Bumgarner has a 10-3 record and 2.38 ERA in 15 home starts this season.|
|Pitcher beware: Though it could also work in his favor, Fister has neither faced the Giants nor pitched in AT&T Park.||Pitcher beware: Bumgarner is pitching on 11 days' rest. This season, he went 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts that came after six or more days of rest.|
|Bottom line: The Tigers are comfortable with Fister on the mound, especially considering he's allowed only two runs on 12 hits over the 13 1/3 innings he's pitched this postseason.||Bottom line: Starting Bumgarner in Game 2 was far from a sure thing for the Giants, but the lefty pitched eight shutout innings in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series.|
Bumgarner and Posey have been close since their early days in the instructional league.
"We're always on the same page out there in the game," Bumgarner said. "I trust him 100 percent; whatever he puts down, I want to throw."
Bumgarner isn't inclined to get specific, but he feels he has ironed out a few mechanical flaws in bullpen sessions with pitching coach Dave Righetti. A lefty with similar stuff in his prime with the Yankees, Righetti is ideally equipped to correct glitches in Bumgarner's delivery.
Bumgarner was 16-11 with a 3.37 ERA in 32 regular-season outings but has lost both of his postseason starts, coughing up 10 earned runs on 15 hits in eight innings.
Should Bumgarner continue his struggles early, Lincecum will be on call to come quickly to the rescue with the ability to deliver multiple innings. Bumgarner was ineffective in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Reds in San Francisco and Game 1 of the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals, also at home.
"I feel good about Madison," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's had a great year. He's done a great job for us since he's been up here, including postseason. This is a small sample on a couple hiccups he had earlier, and I think he's getting some much-needed rest and some time to work on making a couple adjustments in his delivery.
"Sometimes you get out of sync and it's better off taking a little bit of time and trying to sort that out, which he's done. So I look forward to watching him [on Thursday]."
Bochy's decision to go with Bumgarner sends two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Lincecum to the bullpen, where he has been more effective in this postseason than in his one start against the Cardinals.
"It's a different experience coming out of the bullpen," Lincecum said. "It is a little tough. But it's about getting prepared to hear my name called."
The Tigers this season were more successful against right-handed starters (62-49) than against lefties (26-25). Going against the norm, right-handed-hitting Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera did considerably more damage against righties, slugging .652 compared to .472 against lefties. Only four of Cabrera's 44 homers and 17 of his 139 RBIs came against southpaws.
Conversely, NL batting champion Posey destroyed lefties -- .433 average, .793 slugging vs. 292 and .440, respectively, against righties. He has struggled in postseason play against the righty-dominated staffs of the Reds and Cards, hitting .178 with two homers and four of his six RBIs coming with one swing that effectively eliminated the Reds in NLDS Game 5 at Cincinnati.
When he held the heavy-handed Rangers to three hits across eight shutout innings in his 2010 gem, under Posey's guidance, Bumgarner was the fifth-youngest pitcher to start a World Series game.
Bochy is banking on the competitive juices flowing in Bumgarner, the Giants' No. 1 Draft pick in 2007 and 10th overall out of South Caldwell High School in Hudson, N.C.
"He has experience of pitching postseason," Bochy said. "He's done well, and he's dealt with the adversity that you have to deal with as a player. The good ones bounce back. They're resilient. We certainly feel that way with Madison.
"I don't care how good you are; occasionally you're going to have to deal with some adversity. But he's a tough kid. We forget sometimes, he's only 23 years old, and he's already done a lot in his career. But he can handle things thrown at him, and he's a guy that doesn't get his confidence shaken. It may not go well, but he still wants to be out there on the mound."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.