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MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

This time, Giants enjoying enviable position

Bauman: This time, Giants enjoy enviable position

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This time, Giants enjoying enviable position

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dancing in the streets of San Francisco might be mildly premature, but at this point it would also be completely understandable.

The Giants are sitting pretty. They are in the driver's seat. They are not a mortal lock to win the 2012 World Series, but they have moved into mortal lock's neighborhood, and they have brought along their extended families.

World Series

The Giants took a 2-0 Series lead Thursday night with a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers at AT&T Park. The Giants received yet another brilliant pitching performance, this one from Madison Bumgarner. With all due respect to Bumgarner and Game 1 winner Barry Zito, an objective examination of the recent work of the four-man postseason rotation would put Zito and Bumgarner third and fourth.

And that is where the good news gets even better for the Giants. For Games 3 and 4 in Detroit, they have lined up their starters who have recently been most effective: Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. The Giants will be on the road, but the way they are pitching, they can win, even in what the people in Upper Michigan call Lower Michigan.

Giant edge
This is the fourth time in franchise history that the Giants hold a 2-0 advantage in the World Series. In all four instances, the Giants won the Fall Classic.
Year Opponent Winner
2011 Rangers Giants in 5
1954 Cardinals Giants in 4
1933 Senators Giants in 5
1922 Yankees Giants in 4

All redundancy acknowledged, the three keys to winning postseason baseball remain pitching, pitching and pitching. And in the last five games, the Giants have had it. They had it in the remarkable comeback against St. Louis in the National League Championship Series, and they have had it right here in the first two games of the Fall Classic.

The Giants limited the Cardinals -- who were the NL's second-highest scoring team in the regular season -- to one run over those last three games. San Francisco received terrific starts from Zito, Vogelsong and Cain in the last three NLCS games, along with the usual exemplary bullpen work.

Not a false step was taken as the Giants moved to the World Series. Zito delivered again. Bumgarner followed suit -- throwing seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, striking out eight.

The thing was, Bumgarner's most recent work had not been of much comfort to the Giants. He had two losses in two postseason starts along with an 11.25 ERA. He missed a turn to work on his mechanics. The work obviously was productive work. Bumgarner emerged with, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night, a delivery that was "a little simpler, more compact, and I think he was able to get the ball where he wanted tonight because of that."

When Bumgarner was asked if it felt different in this game as opposed to his two previous starts in this postseason, he replied: "Yeah, I went into the seventh inning instead of getting taken out in the third."

Mad about MadBum
Pitchers to throw consecutive World Series shutouts while lasting seven or more innings with six or more strikeouts in each outing
Pitcher Team Year(s) IP K's Hits
Madison Bumgarner Giants 2010/2012 15 14 5
Sandy Koufax Dodgers 1965 18 20 7
Don Larsen Yankees 1956/1958 16 15 6
Bill Hallahan Cardinals 1930/1931 18 14 10
Christy Mathewson Giants 1905 18 14 8

Bumgarner got big laughs for that line from his audience of reporters. This is usually a tough crowd, or at least a crowd in a hurry to finish work. But Bumgarner was on point with a droll, down-home description that was long on both humor and accuracy.

This is the situation. It is a pleasant situation, so a light review will not hurt. The Giants are up 2-0 in the World Series. All of their starting pitchers are now working very well. So is their bullpen. And the two starters who have recently been the most effective, Vogelsong and Cain, are scheduled to pitch in Games 3 and 4 at Comerica Park.

This has all the appearances of an October feast for the Giants. The salad greens were crisp, the soup was tasty, it's been a wonderful meal already, and the main course hasn't even arrived yet. But, but, the Giants and their faithful fans know that nothing can be taken for granted.

This is another part of the inner beauty of the evolution of this Giants story. They know all this, because just days ago they were on the other side of the story. Twice. They were down, 2-0, in the NLDS. They were down, 3-1, in the NLCS. They are not going to forget about how quickly and completely these postseason events can turn.

Absolute zero
Longest scoreless streak to start a World Series career
Pitcher Team Year(s) Inn.
Christy Mathewson Giants 1905-11 28
Jim Lonborg Red Sox 1967 17
Duster Mails Indians 1920 15 2/3
Madison Bumgarner Giants 2010-12 15
Bruce Hurst Red Sox 1986 15
Source: Elias Sports Bureau

Outfielder Hunter Pence, who has emerged as a vocal leader of this club, was asked if the team's fundamental approach would change, being up 2-0. Pence provided the correct answer.

"No, absolutely not," Pence said. "I feel like we've gained a lot of strength from what we had to overcome to get to this point. You know, we're riding a little bit of a confidence and a momentum and an understanding. I feel like everyone is on the same page, and we're just going out there and really playing as hard as we can for each other.

"At the end of the day, everyone seems focused, everyone seems locked in, and there's going to be more adversity to come. It's the World Series; there's going to be more moments, good moments, and we just want to go out there and meet them together."

Sounds like a really solid plan. That should do it, along with at least two more doses of terrific postseason pitching. This isn't the finish line for the Giants, but you can see the finish line from here without a great big telescope or an overactive imagination.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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