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Hal Bodley

Bochy, Giants living charmed life so far

Bodley: Bochy, Giants living charmed life so far

Bochy, Giants living charmed life so far
SAN FRANCISCO -- The tipoff came way back in the second inning. Prince Fielder was cut down at the plate on a bang-bang play trying to score on Delmon Young's booming double, and once again the Giants were living a charmed life.

It's been that way during this magical postseason, and there were hints galore Thursday night that this is truly a team of destiny, a team playing under a mystical spell it hopes never ends.

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Or at least until they wrap up this World Series.

The dazed Tigers limped out of AT&T Park beaten, 2-0, and down 0-2 as this compelling World Series shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8:07 first pitch).

The Tigers have to wonder if there is any human way to stop the Giants or if anything else can go wrong for them.

Not even a brilliant pitching effort by Doug Fister, who blanked the Giants for six innings on just three singles before they scratched for a run in the seventh, was enough.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland shoots down the notion the stars are aligned for the Giants, who seem to be getting most of the breaks.

"Well, number one, I don't think they're getting any breaks. I think they've earned everything they've gotten," Leyland said. "You got a freak play when the ball hit the bag [in Game 1], but that's the game. Up to this point, they've outplayed us."

But while the little nuances of the Giants' play have been the script for their postseason, almost going unnoticed is the brilliant managing of Bruce Bochy.

Bruce just might be the best-kept secret of this World Series. He's pushing all the right buttons, making all the correct moves and has two victories to show for his maneuvering.

What's the line? Steady as you go? That's Bochy.

Calm, focused, a grass-roots baseball guy who has passion for his players, win or lose. Bochy was that way during all those elimination games the Giants won in the first two postseason rounds, and he hasn't wavered in the World Series.

I don't believe anything has been more important to date than the way Bochy handled struggling 23-year-old left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

The youngster, a huge factor when the Giants defeated the Rangers two years ago in the World Series, was 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in two postseason starts this month.

Bumgarner's mechanics were so out of whack Bochy that moved him to the bullpen after a dreadful start in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against St. Louis. He didn't get out of the fourth inning, allowing six runs and eight hits.

Bochy's method was to calm Bumgarner down, not throw him back in the fire and destroy the youngster's confidence.

As reporters continually questioned Bochy, he said, "Madison has had a break which we wanted to give him. Don't forget, he's just 23 and has pitched a lot of innings. The break has allowed him to work on some things and get some bullpens in."

It wasn't surprising that Bumgarner returned with a flourish in Thursday night's important start. He struck out eight and allowed just two hits -- Young's double and a fourth-inning Omar Infante single -- over seven innings.

The Giants made him a winner with their run in the seventh. They added an insurance tally in the eighth.

"The difference tonight was being able to make pitches," Bumgarner said. "I hadn't been able to do that this postseason."

Give Bochy some credit. He thought the first inning would be critical for Bumgarner, adding that pitching coach Dave Righetti "did a great job getting him back on track. He had great poise, with great delivery and stayed right on for seven innings."

Bochy, in an excellent position to win his second World Series, refuses to take anything for granted, which has been his philosophy, his approach to managing a baseball team.

It was mentioned teams jumping out to a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the series in each of the past eight occurrences.

"You don't really look at where you're at," Bochy said. "You go out there and play hard and see what happens. You don't really look at where you're at. You go out there to win every game. And if you do that and do it the right way, you'll see where you're at when it's all over. Don't get caught up if you're 2-and-0 or 0-and-2."

Of course, the ball has bounced the right way for the Giants.

Fielder being thrown out was the beginning Thursday night. And even Fister was struck squarely in the back of the head by a Gregor Blanco liner in the second, but remained in the game.

Infante was thrown out attempting to steal second in the fourth after he singled, and with the meat of the Tigers' order coming up in the seventh, Bumgarner walked Miguel Cabrera before Fielder bounced into a double play.

So, you don't think the stars are aligned for the Giants?

Consider the seventh, when they chased Fister and scored their first run with Drew Smyly on the mound.

Hunter Pence, the final batter Fister faced, opened with a single. Smyly walked Brandon Belt, setting the stage with none out for Blanco to advance the runners with a sacrifice.

With Smyly, catcher Gerald Laird and home-plate umpire Dan Iassogna staring down at the ball, Blanco's bunt rolled to a stop inches fair on the infield dirt.

Brandon Crawford's run-scoring double-play grounder gave the Giants a 1-0 lead.

Blanco said his bunt was perfect, "but I wasn't even trying to do that."

And then in the understatement of this World Series, he added: "It was just meant to be."

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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