SAN FRANCISCO – An unknown rookie until he pitched eight shutout innings to win Game Four of the 2010 World Series in Texas, Madison Bumgarner is hoping to recapture some of that mound magic tonight.
Bumgarner has lost both of his posteason starts this year and was pulled from the San Francisco Giants’ rotation during the National League Championship Series. But manager Bruce Bochy is going back to the left-hander against Detroit’s Doug Fister in Game Two at AT&T Park.
Bumgarner went 16-11 with a 3.37 ERA during the regular season, tying ace Matt Cain for the team lead in victories. But he has an 11.25 earned run average in the postseason and opponents are batting .385 against him; he gave up four runs in 4? innings against Cincinnati in Game Two of the division series and six runs in 3? innings in the opener of the NLCS against St. Louis.
That means he’ll have 11 days between starts and he’s spent that time working with pitching coach Dave Righetti on his mechanics. Specifically, he’s trying not to torque his body as violently on his delivery so he doesn’t cause early fatigue and a drop in velocity.
“I think we were going through some mechanical issues, just some small things that might have affected my arm and made it more difficult to throw,” Bumgarner said prior to Game One.
“I think we’ve got it fixed. There’s no way to tell 100 percent until you get out there and get going game speed. But hopefully that’s all it was. But regardless, whether the velocity is up or down or whatever, still got to find a way to make pitches and compete, keep us in the game.”
Bumgarner pitched three-hit ball during the 2010 game in Texas, allowing the Giants to post a 4-0 victory and take a 3-1 lead in the series after Texas had won the previous night. San Francisco went on to wrap up the series in Game Five. Bumgarner became the fifth youngest pitcher to start a World Series game, and the fourth youngest to win one.
“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.”
Neither Bochy nor Bumgarner had much concern about his layoff, given the fact the time was spent tweaking mechanics.
“I just want to go out there and try to keep us in the game and do a good job,” Bumgarner said. “I haven’t done that yet this postseason. It would be nice to go out there and throw better for us. Like I said, we’ve been working hard, and I think we’ve got everything ironed out. We’ll just see.”
Fister was born in Merced, Calif., about 130 miles away, and attended high school and college in Northern California.
“Growing up, don’t tell anybody, I was a Giants fan,” Fister said. “Being able to come to a couple games when I was little, it’s always been a dream and a goal for me, and now it’s happening.
“It’s definitely special being able to come into the ballpark and play in a World Series. … It holds a little bit more special place in my heart I would say, but it doesn’t change what we do on the field.”
While the ex-Bisons connection in this series largely revolves around San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta, there are a few other connections to the Herd in this year’s Fall Classic:
• San Francisco center fielder Angel Pagan batted .286 for the Bisons in three injury rehab games in May 2009 while with the Mets. He gave the Herd a 4-3 victory over Gwinnett in one of the games with a two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the 11th inning.
• Giants bench coach Ron Wotus batted .299 in 86 games for the Double-A Bisons in 1982 when they were a Pittsburgh affiliate. He played 32 games in the big leagues in 1983-84, all with the Pirates.
• One of Wotus’ teammates on that '82 Buffalo team was Tigers infield coach Rafael Belliard, who batted .274 in 40 games for the Herd. Belliard went on to a 17-year career in the big leagues with the Pirates (playing for Leyland) and Atlanta, appearing in four World Series for the Braves and winning a title in 1995.
• Tigers batting coach Lloyd McClendon retired from a 16-year career as a player after making 37 appearances for the Bisons as a 36-year-old in 1995. He batted .278 in Buffalo before moving on to a career as a coach and a big-league manager in Pittsburgh.