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Soriano opts out, leaving Yankees with a big decision to make

No big surprise, but Rafael Soriano has opted out of the final year of his three-year, $35-million contract with the Yankees and is a free agent.

What a pickle the Yankees are in at closer right now.

Mariano Rivera said last week he's not sure he's returning -- after telling beat writers in May to "write it in big letters" that he was coming back from his knee surgery. Soriano went 42 of 45 in save chances this year and the Yankees would certainly want him back if there's no Mo.

UntuckBut if Rivera does return, there's no way the Yankees will pay nearly $12 million for Mr. Untuck to serve as a setup man, not when they're trying to cut the payroll to avoid luxury tax payments in 2014. At least you wouldn't think so.

(#Untuck was the Twitter hashtag that developed from Soriano closing games and ripping his shirt out at the final out, as it looks in the picture to the right.)

What do they do? They need an answer quick from Mariano and then they can move on. What do you think? Vote below.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington
Photo: Getty Images 

Ex-Bisons SS Jay Bell named Pirates hitting coach

Former Bisons shortstop and longtime major leaguer Jay Bell was named the new batting coach for the Pirates today by manager Clint Hurdle. 

Bell, 46, played eight of his 18 MLB seasons with the Pirates (1989-1996). He scored the winning run for Arizona in Game Seven of the 2001 World Series against the Yankees. See his career stats here, for both the majors and the minors.

BellBell was an up-and-coming prospect in the Cleveland chain when he played 110 games for the Bisons as a 21-year-old in 1987, the final year at War Memorial Stadium. He batted .260 with 17 homers and 60 RBIs but also made 30 errors that year. That's his 1988 Topps card to the right.

He returned to Buffalo in 1989, the second year of then-Pilot Field, and batted .285 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs in 86 games. Of note was his defensive improvement with the Herd, making 16 errors and improving his fielding percentage from .945 to .967 before getting the call to Pittsburgh for keeps.

Bell was the starting shortstop for all three of the Pirates' NL East division championship teams (1990-92), and also played for the Royals, Diamondbacks and Mets in a career that lasted until 2003.

By my count, and with an able assist by Bisons PR director Brad Bisbing, Bell makes 29 MLB coaches for 2013 who either played or managed in Buffalo. Here is my current list of ex-Bisons connections:

Managers -- John Farrell (Boston), Eric Wedge (Seattle), Terry Collins (New York Mets), Bud Black (San Diego).
Bench coaches --- Tony Pena (New York Yankees), Torey Lovullo (Boston), Sandy Alomar Jr. (Clevelnad), Jeff Banister (Pittsburgh), Ron Wotus (San Francisco).
Batting coaches -- Lloyd McClendon (Detroit), Jeff Manto (Chicago White Sox), Steve Henderson (Philadelphia), Jay Bell (Pittsburgh).
Pitching coaches -- Carl Willis (Seattle), Dan Warthen (New York Mets), Steve McCatty (Washington), Charles Nagy (Arizona).
Third-base coaches -- Jeff Datz (Seattle), Tim Teufel (New York Mets), David Bell (Chicago Cubs).
First-base coach -- Dave Roberts (San Diego)
Bullpen coaches -- Steven Soliz (Los Angeles Angels), Jaime Navarro (Seattle), Ricky Bones (New York Mets), Reid Cornelius (Miami), Lee Tunnell (Milwaukee).
Infield coach -- Rafael Belliard (Detroit).
Role TBA -- Dave Clark (Houston).
Bullpen catcher -- Alex Andreopoulos  (Toronto) 

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington

Covering the Giants' victory

Below is the front page of Monday's San Francisco Chronicle celebrating the Giants' second World Series clincher in two years (image courtesy of the Newseum).

Here's how I covered the finale in today's Buffalo News -- through getting crushed by champagne in the tiny clubhouse (I have half a mind to send Brian Wilson a dry cleaning bill).

Be sure to check Tuesday's paper for my wrap-up putting the Giants' two title runs and their incredible burst through this October into some bigger perspective. And thanks for reading and following the blog during the postseason!

(But don't go away either: Plenty more items to come during MLB Awards week, free agency etc.)

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

---------------------------- Giants

Game Four podcast: A Giant finish

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Manager Bruce Bochy enjoys the trophy -- and the champagne -- in the Giants' clubhouse. (AP Photo)

Hard to believe what the San Francisco Giants pulled off this month. The Cincinnati Reds had a great chance to put them away and couldn't do it. Neither could the St. Louis Cardinals. Then the Detroit Tigers proved to be no match for them in the World Series.

In my final podcast of the series, click below to hear my thoughts on the Giants' second win in three years, including the work of manager Bruce Bochy and the sudden emergence of former Bison Marco Scutaro, as well as the stunning no-show by the Tigers.


Mike Harrington on Game Four


Click here to download the audio

Numerology on the Giants' win

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The Giants rush the mound after the final out.

DETROIT -- Crunching some numbers on the Giants' four-game sweep over the Tigers in the World Series:

---The Giants are just the fourth team with as many as seven World Series titles, joining the Yankees (27), Cardinals (11) and Athletics (9).

Pablo---MVP Pablo Sandoval (right) went 8 for 16 in the series and became just the ninth player all-time to bat at least .500 with at least 15 at-bats. 

---Sandoval finished the postseason 24 for 66 (.364) with five doubles, six homers and 13 RBI in 16 games. He batted .415 (22 for 53) with six homers and 13 RBI in his last 13 games. The 24 hits left him one hit shy of the all-time single postseason record of 25 set by Marquis Grissom (1995 Braves), Darin Erstad (2002 Angels) and David Freese (2011 Cardinals).

---Game Four was just the seventh extra-inning clincher in Series history and the first since Florida's 11-inning victory over Cleveland in Game Seven in 1997. There were three extra-inning clinchers in the 90s (also Minnesota over Atlanta in Game Seven in '91, Toronto over Atlanta in Game Six in '92) after there had been none since 1933.

---Giants closer Sergio Romo became the seventh player with three saves, the first since Boston's Jonathan Papelbon in 2007.

---Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he was "flabbergasted" his team got swept, and with good reason. The Tigers became just the third team in history to win the LCS in a sweep and lose the World Series in one, joining the 1990 Oakland A's and 2007 Colorado Rockies.

Miggy---Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder went a combined 4 for 27 (.148) over four games. Series. Cabrera went 3 for 13, while Fielder was 1 for 14. Cabrera took the final pitch of the series from Romo for a called third strike (left) and that left Fielder on deck.

---The Tigers dropped the last three games to St. Louis in 2006 and have now lost a franchise-record seven straight World Series games, breaking their mark of six set in 1907-1908.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 
Photos: Associated Press 

Live from Chilly Comerica: It's Tigers-Giants Game Four

DETROIT -- The Giants waited 52 years to win their first World Series title since moving out West. They might only wait two to take their second. They have a 3-0 lead heading into tonight's game at chilly Comerica Park. Follow here for my thoughts and updates.

Click here for MLB.com's Gameday pitch-by-pitch. Remember, credential rules prohibit us from doing that but give me one of your browser windows!

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Mid-1st (0-0): The first from Scherzer to Pagan was taken for a called strike at 8:16 p.m. The temperature is 44 degrees, but the wind chill is making it feel like 36. Great start for Scherzer, who tossed a 1-2-3 first with strikeouts of Pagan and Sandoval, throwing eight of his 10 pitches for strikes.

End-1st (0-0): Cain needed 21 pitches for a hitless first, taking 10 before finally retiring Quinton Berry on a grounder to second. Cabrera walked with two out but Fielder fell to 1-for-11 with a strikeout. The Tigers have now gone 19 2/3 straight scoreless innings.

Mid-2nd (1-0, Giants): Is one run going to be enough? It seems like five runs the way this series has gone. Hunter Pence with a ground-rule double to deep left-center and Brandon Belt with an RBI triple to right on the next pitch. Scherzer stiffened, however, to get Blanco on a grounder to second with the infield in and a fly ball to deep right by Theriot.

Second-guess: The Tigers played the infield in to cut off a run in the second inning. Good call given their offense's struggles. Hey Jim Leyland: You should have done that in the seventh inning of Game Two when it was 0-0!!

End-2nd (1-0, Giants): Cain seems to be having a little trouble with his grip in the cold with some pitches kind of floating to the plate. He gave up a leadoff single to Young but then survived to get three straight outs. Will the Tigers ever score again?

End-3rd (2-1, Tigers): For the first time in 80 innings in the postseason, we have a lead change. For the first time in 56 innings, the Giants trail. And for the first time in the World Series, the Tigers have a lead. Maybe thank the fringes of Hurricane Sandy.

Cabrera just took Cain's 86-mph changeup deep for a two-run homer that the wind clearly got a hold of and blew back, back, back. Pence ran into the wall in right and simply ran out of room. It scored Jackson, who had walked with one out. The crowd is alive for the first time in the two days here. Let's see how Scherzer handles it.

End-4th (2-1, Tigers): Scherzer got a strikeout/double play to get out of his inning and Cain was strong with a 1-2-3 bottom with two strikeouts. Cain is at 64 pitches, 41 strikes while Scherzer is at 54-34.

Mid-6th: (3-2, Giants):  Buster Posey gives the Giants the lead by ripping a 1-0 Scherzer changeup just inside the left-field foul pole for a two-run homer. Scherzer's 77th pitch of the night was down and away and Posey went down and pulled it. Scutaro had led off the inning with an infield single, beating out a topper to Cabrera at third, before Sandoval struck out on a full-count pitch. Can the Tigers really come back twice in the same game the way their offense is going? 

End-6th (3-3): There's your answer. The Tigers come back with two out as Young cranks Cain's first pitch deep to right to tie the game. Dirks followed with a single and Peralta flied deep the left --- just missing a go-ahead, two-run shot. So everyone in here is holding off on those Posey hero stories.

Mid-7th (3-3): Scherzer is out and the Tigers use Drew Smyly and Octavio Dotel to get out of the inning after a leadoff single by Blanco. Scherzer's line: 6 1/3 IP, 7H, 3R, 3 ER, 1BB, 8K, 90-59.

End-7th (3-3): Cain at 99 pitches after a 1-2-3 seventh. Gotta figure he goes at least one more. 

Mid-8th (3-3): Cain is out. The count was actually 102 pitches. Jeremy Affeldt is in. The Giants did not score as Dotel got Sandoval to hit into a double play and fanned Posey after Scutaro led off with a four-pitch walk.

End-8th (3-3): This is why the Tigers aren't winning this series even if they somehow pull out tonight's game. Leadoff walk by rookie pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia against reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Then Affeldt strikes out Cabrera (3-12), Fielder (1-14) and Young.

Off to extra innings (3-3): Coke pitches a classic ninth for Detroit, striking out the side to give him seven Ks in seven hitters in this series. The Tigers suffered a loss as Omar Infante was drilled on the wrist by a Santiago Casilla pitch and had to leave the game.

MID-10TH (GIANTS LEAD, 4-3): Scutaro loops a two-out RBI single to center to score Theriot. Giants are three outs away.

IT'S OVER (GIANTS WIN, 4-3): Romo pitches a 1-2-3 10th and Cabrera takes a called third strike for the final out. Giants win their second title in three years.

More on Tiger Stadium, plus early thoughts on Game Four

DETROIT -- Thanx to all for some great feedback on my return to Tiger Stadium in this morning's paper. A fun project all the way around. Kudos to a couple alert readers who emailed me the link to this fabulous Yahoo! Sports video that shows great stills of the old yard as well as video of the site now and interviews with the Navin Field Grounds Crew.


As for tonight's game, it's cold and the wind is howling in advance of the fringe of Hurricane Sandy making it to Michigan. There's rain in the forecast from about 6:30 to 8:30 but the chance drops to 20 percent and only light rain thereafter.

We should be good to go for tonight, even if it goes a little later. But as for Monday and Tuesday if the Tigers force Game Five? Yeesh.

---The Tigers are trying to avoid the first sweep since the Rockies got dumped by the Red Sox in 2007.  They've scored three runs in three games, are batting .165 and just endured the first back-to-back shutouts in the World Series since 1966.

"I can paint a rosy picture, but the picture is not rosy right now," admitted manager Jim Leyland. "I mean, our pitching is set up terrific, but you've got to win a game."

(If the Tigers survive tonight, they can go back to Justin Verlander and Doug Fister in Games 5-6. I'd say the Giants best make sure they win tonight).

---The Tigers have scratched C Alex Avila tonight with a bruised left forearm and Leyland said it's possible the injury is serious enough to keep him out of the rest of the series. Gerald Laird will take over.

---Ryan Theriot will DH for the Giants tonight, trying to win his second straight Series title. He played for the Cardinals last year.

Leyland---Leyland acknowledged he was not happy that slugger Miguel Cabrera blew off the media after last night's game. Most Tigers, notably Avila, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson, spent several minutes with waves of reporters. A huge crowd was waiting at Cabrera's locker but a Tigers PR official said he had left the building.

"I will deal with the situation and check into it, because you have to be there through the good and the bad," said Leyland (pictured above talking to Cabrera today during batting practice). "You can't be on this podium only when you win.  When we're 0‑3, I've got to be up here and I'm not the happiest camper in the world.  However, you have a responsibility."

Leyland said he wanted to make sure Cabrera didn't leave early due to some unknown family issue but wasn't aware of any.

"We're all big boys, and you've got to face you guys whether you like it or not.  You can't just be here when everything is going well.  That's our responsibility.  Nobody from the Detroit Tigers ducks that."

So tonight's lineups look like this:

Giants: Pagan, cf; Scutaro, 2b; Sandoval, 3b; Posey, c; Pence, rf; Belt, 1b; Blanco, 2b; Theriot, dh; Crawford,  ss
Tigers: Jackson, cf; Berry, lf; Cabrera, 3b; Fielder, 1b; Young, dh; Dirks, rf; Peralta, ss; Avila, c; Infante, 2b 

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington
Photo: Associated Press 

Return to Tiger Stadium

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The rusted gate from Tiger Plaza still stands at the Tiger Stadium site, beckoning you on to the old diamond.

DETROIT -- At this link is my Sunday Inside Baseball column talking about Tiger Stadium. 

The last game at "The Corner" was in 1999 and the wrecking ball finished its job in 2009 but it's great to see a diamond back at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull -- and to see the old center field flagpole still standing.

Click here for my Flickr stream slideshow of my trip back in time to The Corner last week.

And check out my Flickrs on the World Series venues
Comerica Park Flickr
AT&T Park Flickr

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Game Three podcast: Giants close to declawing Tigers

Giants OF
Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan celebrate after Game Three. (AP Photo)

DETROIT -- The numbers are astonishing. We've played only three games of the World Series but this baby is toast.

The Giants lead, three games to none, and the last eight teams to go down, 3-0, have all been swept! No one has won Game Four since the 1970 Reds and no one has EVER won Games Four and Five. Pity the Tigers.

I recorded some thoughts on Game Three below. Hard to process this series so far. Plenty of teams have good pitching at this point. But what the Giants are doing is just about unheard of on the mound, especially from their starters. 

Starting with the comeback from 0-2 in the NLDS in Cincinnati, we're in the midst of one of the greatest miracle runs in postseason history. If this was the Yankees or Red Sox, people would be writing books about it. Oh yeah, that did happen in 2004. Never mind.


Game Three wrapup

Click here to download the audio

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Live from Comerica: It's Tigers-Giants Game Three

DETROIT -- We're on the scene for Game Three as the Tigers try to get back in this series. If they lose, the Giants have ace/perfect game hurler Matt Cain going in Game Four. Yikes.

The lineups look like this with Anibal Sanchez pitching against Ryan Vogelsong:

San Francisco: Pagan, cf; Scutaro, 2b; Sandoval, 3b; Posey, c; Pence, rf; Belt, 1b; Blanco, lf; Sanchez, dh; Crawford, ss

Detroit: Jackson, cf; Berry, lf; Cabrera, 3b; Fielder, 1b; Young, dh; Dirks, rf; Peralta, ss; Avila, c; Infante, 2b.

A word on the national anthem: A spirited exchange on Twitter this afternoon about the choice of Zooey Deschanel of FOX's "New Girl". I never heard of her. I got crushed by folks (pretty funny that someone I had never heard of has 3 million-plus followers. My bad). But I hate that FOX plants singers from its shows. An Idol winner sang in Game Two and Demi Lovato goes tomorrow. It's terrible.

(As for Zooey Whoever, she had a nice voice but took waaaay too long to sing. Come on, it's Saturday night and it's cold. Pick it up).

Onward.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington

(Remember, no pitch-by-pitch updates as per MLB rules. Open MLB.com Gameday in another window but be sure to keep my thoughts up too) 

End-1st (0-0): It's cold here. Freezing. The temp at first-pitch was 47 degrees and the wind has to be in the 20-mph range. Huge missed chance for the Tigers as Perry walked, Cabrera bounced back from an 0-2 count to get to 2-2 and pulled a single through the left side but Fielder grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

(Apologies as I'm told the blog wasn't posting...It should be now)

Blanco3BEnd-2nd (2-0, Giants): San Francisco gets the jump as Sanchez was all over the map in that inning. Pence led off with a walk, stole second as Belt struck out and went to third on a passed ball (Avila has to get up out of that crouch more). Blanco then cracked a triple into right-center (left) to score the game's first run. After Giants DH Hector Sanchez struck out, Brandon Crawford singled to center to center and Jackson let the ball roll by for an error. Pagan grounded out to end the inning.

End-3rd (2-0, Giants): A huge missed chance for the Tigers as Cabrera is left on deck. Things looked good with one out when Infante laced a broken-bat single and Jackson beat out a topper down the third-base line. Signs of the good luck the Giants had the first two games. That brought up Perry. One pitch. 4-6-3. Second DP of the game. Cabrera back to the dugout.

End-4th (2-0, Giants): The Tigers look dead, folks. Baseball is a 162-game season but the last few years we've really learned that a) sitting around after the LCS is a very bad thing (think '06 and '12 Tigers and '07 Rockies) and b) teams that win the World Series often get on incredibly hot runs and can't be stopped.

Think of the huge winning streaks in the postseason till by the end by the '04 Red Sox (8), '05 White Sox (8), '07 Red Sox (7). Think of how hot the '11 Cardinals were at the end and look at the Giants now. 

End-5th (2-0, Giants): The Giants have now led for 50 straight innings. Yes, 50! But they needed great work from Vogelsong to keep the lead. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for Berry. He helped immensely by swinging and fouling back a 2-1 pitch that was clearly high. At 2-2, he swung through a 91-mph fastball for strike three.

Miggy-5thThat brought the AB of the series: Vogelsong vs. Cabrera, two out bases loaded. Pitch one was a foul looped just outside the RF line. Pitch two was another 91-mph fastball popped up to Crawford at short. Cabrera spikes the bat in disgust and bangs his head at first while the Giants' dugout explodes and the crowd sits down sullenly. Cabrera (right) stunned like everyone else with the Tigers' poor offense.

End-6th (2-0, Giants): Vogelsong was lifted after a two-out walk to Dirks and Lincecum came in relief for the second straight game to get Peralta to fly out. Vogelsong throws 5 2/3 shutout innings, drops the Giants' starters' ERA to 0.49 in the series.

End-8th (2-0, Giants): Lincecum has gone 2 1/3 shutout innings with three strikeouts. Fanned Fielder and Dirks in the eighth, drawing plenty of boos from the crowd.

IT'S OVER: A 1-2-3 ninth for Romo wraps up another 2-0 win for the Giants. First back-to-back Series shutouts since the '66 Orioles. The fork is just about stuck in the Tigers. An incredible about-face after the way they dominated against the Yankees.

A walk around Comerica Park

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The giant script 'D' and the Tigers at the main gate quickly tell you where you are. 

DETROIT -- It's an easy 5-hour drive from Buffalo through Canada via Highways 403 and 401 to the Motor City. If you're looking for a baseball roadie next summer, Comerica Park is certainly worth the trip.

(An aside here: I loved -- absolutely loved -- old Tiger Stadium. I wrote a column that will run in Sunday's paper on my memories of the place and a trip to the restored diamond at the site I took last week. Comerica has moved the Tigers 1 1/2 miles uptown and it's a disappointment in comparison, but it's a typically fan-friendly place like most people expect in this era so I'm fine with that too).

DSCN2214

Comerica has tremendous gargoyle Tiger sculptures at the gates with giant baseball bats protruding to the sky, a ferris wheel with cars made of baseballs, and one of the biggest highlights is a carousel with tigers instead of horses (left, click for bigger view) in the middle of a food court.

 

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It has great history displays in the concourse for each decade (right) and a simple and understated statue of legendary Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell, who was one of my favorites.

The decade displays have lots of neat memorabilia or replica items. And you have to love the only-in-Detroit theme of putting them on wheels as a tribute to the auto industry.

What Sabres fans would find interesting is the left field sculpture plaza. The big names like Cobb, Greenberg, Kaline and Horton are among the figures out there and it's a great collection.

After the outstanding unveiling of the French Connection earlier this month, I'm sure the Sabres will add another statue or two (Hasek? LaFontaine?) in the FNC Alumni Plaza and it will have a similar impact on fans. I put a look at the giant Ty Cobb statue at the bottom of this post. Gotta love the sliding dirt coming out from under his cleats.

As promised, I created a Flickr slideshow of dozens of shots of Comerica (I cheated and took one of the wondrous FOX Theatre marquee across the street too). 

In case you missed it, click here for Thursday's post on AT&T Park in San Francisco and click here for the Flickr stream on the Giants' home.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

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Hank Greenberg and Ty Cobb on the left field plaza at Comerica Park.

Anybody home?

New statueDETROIT -- We know there are issues with downtown Buffalo at times, especially on a weekend when there's no events. But the next time you hear somebody griping about it, send them to Detroit. The ALCS was during the week when workers were everywhere, restaurants and bars were open and the place was pretty hoppin'.

Game Three of the World Series is tonight and downtown is D-E-A-D at mid-afternoon (it should be better tomorrow because there's a 1 p.m. Lions-Seattle game nearby at Ford Field).

At least the Spirit of Detroit statue (above) is all decked out and ready for the big game, as shown in this shot I got on the way to the ballpark. The 26-foot statue is often adorned in the town's favorite jersey (it's had the Pistons for the NBA finals and the Red Wings during the Stanley Cup final).

Stay tuned later today for more from Comerica, where home suits the Tigers just fine. They're 4-0 here in the postseason this year, and have won five straight and seven of eight in October dating to last season.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

Off-day thoughts from the Motor City prior to Game Three

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Pablo Sandoval, left, hams it up for Marco Scutaro during the Giants' workout Friday night in chilly Comerica Park (AP Photo).

RyanDETROIT -- Click below to hear Mike Harrington's thoughts from the workout day at Comerica Park prior to Game Three of the World Series. Included are the struggles of the Tigers' offense, the rise of Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (right) and a preview of a special story in Sunday's paper on the site of old Tiger Stadium.


Mike Harrington on Game 3 workout day

Click here to download the audio

 

Moving to Motown: Series teams talking, Red Sox name Lovullo

Comerica press box
The view from the Comerica Park press box late Friday afternoon.

DETROIT -- Landed in Detroit within the hour and took the loooooooooong cab ride from the airport to the hotel, then high-tailed it here to Comerica Park.

Under a grey sky and light drizzle, the Tigers staged a small workout, with manager Jim Leyland, Game Three starter Anibal Sanchez, catcher Alex Avila and center fielder Austin Jackson meeting the media.

The Giants are scheduled to be talking in the 6 o'clock hour.

The news items of note from Leyland's chat are that Andy Dirks and Quinton Berry will be in the lineup tomorrow (with Delmon Young move back to DH) and that Doug Fister is doing fine but had more tests today after taking the line drive off his head in Game Two last night at AT&T Park.

The weather is supposed to be frigid, and temperatures by the end of the night could be in the high 30s.

Joked Leyland: "This is the World Series and it's cold for everybody.  It's cold for the fans, the beer is cold, everything is cold.  It's great. Enjoy it."

Elsewhere in baseball, the one Buffalo-centric item that developed today is that Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo has officially been named bench coach of the Boston Red Sox, in a move rumored all week since John Farrell left Toronto to be Boston's manager.

You can listen to a couple quick interviews with Farrell and Lovullo at this MLB.com link.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington

Game Two podcast: It's another Giant night by the Bay

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Giants closer Sergio Romo is pumped after getting the final out (AP Photo).

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are in control of the World Series after a 2-0 win Thursday night AT&T Park. Bounces are going their way. Pitching and defense is in their favor. So is their offense, which has won five straight games by a combined score of 30-4.

They also got the benefit of some braincramps in Game Two from Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont and manager Jim Leyland. Hear Mike Harrington's assessment of the two biggest second-guesses of the night and other thoughts on the series to date in his daily podcast below.


Mike Harrington on Game Two

Click here to download the audio

Live from AT&T: Tigers-Giants II

SAN FRANCISCO -- We're just about ready for Game Two of the World Series. More outstanding pregame ceremonies as MLB honored veterans' service. Great video narrated by Tom Brokaw, appearances by the likes of Jerry Coleman and Tommy Lasorda (he got only 50-50 cheers-boos). The standard flyover (I've seen it 100 times but it's still impressive -- and ear-splitting).

You want the latest news? Where ya been all day? Lots of updates on the blog -- including a photo tour of the ballpark for the benefit of those who haven't made this trip. Be sure to stay with the blog every day during the series.

Our Internet issues of last night seem to be taken care of and we should have plenty of thoughts during the game. Remember, no pitch-by-pitch updates as per MLB rules but you can follow the MLB Gameday page here.

Repeating the lineups:

Detroit:  Jackson, cf; Infante, 2b; Cabrera, 3b; Fielder, 1b; Young, lf; Peralta, ss; Garcia, rf; Laird,  c; Fister, p
San Francisco: Pagan, cf; Scutaro, 2b; Sandoval, 3b; Posey, c; Pence, rf; Belt, 1b; Blanco, lf; Crawford, ss; Bumgarner, p.

The Giants' screechy PA announcer has done her daily duty of imploring the fans to scream and wave their orange towels for the benefit of FOX's sign-on. It's time to play. Keep it here.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

End-1st (0-0): The first pitch from Bumgarner to Jackson was high for a ball at 5:09 p.m. PT. The temperature is 64 degrees. Very nice. Both teams went down 1-2-3, with Bumgarner striking out the first two men he faced. The crowd roared as Pablo Sandoval came to the plate after his 4-for-4, three-homer Game One performance. And he was hacking but lofted a lazy fly to left on the first pitch.

End-2nd (0-0): The Giants make a great play to cut off the game's first run at the plate but, seriously now, what in the world is Tigers 3B coach Gene Lamont doing sending burly Prince Fielder first-to-home on a double to left with nobody out? Just a terrible coaching move.

Prince-Posey IIFielder was hit by a pitch and chugged around the bases on Delmon Young's rope into the left-field corner. Scutaro came over from second base to get the relay and make the throw from just on the infield dirt after Gregor Blanco overthrew SS Brandon Crawford, the initial cutoff man, and Buster Posey got the tag down on Fielder's right (rear) foot just before the left one got down on the plate (above). Great play by Scutaro, who can't do any wrong this month.

Instead of second and third with no outs and Jhonny Peralta up, the Tigers had an out. Peralta popped up on the first pitch and Avisail Garcia fanned. No runs. Could have been a big early inning against Bumgarner, who was drubbed in his two previous starts this postseason.

FisterIn the bottom of the inning, Fister got out of a two-out bases-loaded jam by getting Bumgarner on a lazy pop-up to Peralta at short but Fister bears watching the next couple of innings. He took a line drive from Gregor Blanco right off the coconut -- top of the head -- and it deflected all the way to center field for a single. He stays in and looks unfazed. Crazy. The trainer came out and checked on him (right) and apparently found no problems.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, who covers the Oakland A's, immediately tweeted shock that Fister was allowed to continue. She covered the scary liner that felled Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy in September and McCarthy developed a life-threatening brain bleed a few hours later. 

End-3rd (0-0): Fister trudged onward with a 1-2-3 inning (although Scutaro looked like he beat a chopper to short but was called out after a head-first slide into first). Bumgarner added two more strikeouts in his perfect frame. Fister at 49 pitches, 32 strikes; Bumgarner at 39-25. Two hits for the Giants, one for the Tigers.

End-4th (0-0): Two more 1-2-3 frames, although the Tigers got close against Bumgarner as Cabrera lashed a liner that Sandoval speared and Fielder took Blanco deep the wall in left.

End-5th (0-0): The linescore is 0-2-0 for the both sides. That said, this favors the Giants because of bullpen strength. The Tigers can't possibly use Valverde anymore and the Giants have a full complement of guys down there. Fister is at 86 pitches (58 strikes). Bumgarner is at a stunningly economical 56-36.

MadBumEnd-6th (0-0): Fister at 108. He's gotta be done -- with 13 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two starts. Just like Verlander said after the game last night, the Tigers have other guys too. Drew Smyly and Octavio Dotel warming in the pen. Fister gave up one hit after getting plunked in the head.

The Tigers have to find a way to get to Bumgarner (left, after striking out Infante in the sixth) because the bullpen is not in their favor.

End-7th (1-0, Giants): The Giants take the lead on Brandon Crawford's double-play ball with the bases loaded and no outs. Yes, I know the Tigers are trying to defuse the big innings but playing the infield back when you only have six outs to work with? Wow.

Smyly relieves Fister after Pence pulls a leadoff single through the left side. Brandon Belt walks on a full-count pitch and Blanco drops a perfect bunt that rolls and rolls and rolls and STOPS on the edge of the grass for a single. Giants getting every break. 

Santiago Casilla in for Bumgarner to start the 8th. Final pitching lines:

Fister: 6+ IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 1 BB, 3K, 114-76
Bumgarner: 7 IP, 2H, 0R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8K 86-54

Mid-8th (1-0, Giants) Another 1-2-3 inning. Giants three outs away. Cabrera and Fielder don't bat in the ninth if Tigers go down 1-2-3. Leyland will get roasted if they lose 1-0.

End-8th (2-0, Giants): Pence droves home an insurance run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Sergio Romo coming in. Giants three outs away from a 2-0 lead.

IT'S OVER: Giants win, 2-0, and lead the series, 2-0. On to Detroit.

(Photos by Associated Press)

Pregame update

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few notes prior to Game Two (we're working our pregame print stories as well, of course, so time is at a premium)

The Giants are keeping the same lineup while the Tigers are substituting Gerald Laird at catcher for Alex Avila. Jim Leyland was asked if he thought about Andy Dirks in left field for defensive sloth Delmon Young and his answer was a simple but emphatic "no".

So that leaves the lineups looking like this:

Detroit:  Jackson, cf; Infante, 2b; Cabrera, 3b; Fielder, 1b; Young, lf; Peralta, ss; Garcia, rf; Laird,  c; Fister, p
San Francisco: Pagan, cf; Scutaro, 2b; Sandoval, 3b; Posey, c; Pence, rf; Belt, 1b; Blanco, lf; Crawford, ss; Bumgarner, p

---Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, whose three-homer game Wednesday was just the fifth in Series history, met the media again prior to today's game. He said he had more than 300 text messages on his phone -- and enjoyed being the subject of a tweet from Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.

"When I was hitting the fourth at bat, he was like, 'I'm just going to say congratulations to Pablo, but I'm just going to see the four homers right now,'"" Sandoval said. "So that was funny."

"I still can't believe it. In the morning when I wake up, all the stuff, my friends keep texting me. But you know, you have to realize what's going on right now in your life, so you have to keep your head up and keep focused."

---Leyland said Justin Verlander will pitch in Game Five as scheduled and not come back in Game Four even though he threw just four innings last night. I disagree in some ways but Verlander did throw 98 pitches. Wonder if that changes if the Tigers go down, 2-0.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

A day at the Park: Here and there at AT&T prior to Game Two

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The kids' zone in left field -- including the Coke bottle slide and giant glove -- is a signature element at AT&T Park.

SAN FRANCISCO -- We're three hours before the first pitch of Game Two of the World Series on another beautiful day by the Bay. I have been crushed with what's-it-like questions on Twitter and via email because AT&T Park is widely known as the most picturesque venue in baseball. This is my fourth trip and, yes, it's awesome.

DSCN2161Most common inquiries: 1) Why do the stands in the upper deck in left field look empty? They're not; they're auxiliary media seats and there's giant tables in front of every other row that give the illusion they're empty.  2) What's with all the stuff in left field? The giant Coke bottle is actually a kid's slide and there's a mini-AT&T Wiffle Ball Park out there!!!). 

 

 


Gotta love the glove too with the 501-foot marker (right). Another great photo spot. If you've ever wanted to take a look out on McCovey Cove, or stand atop those funky right-field stands, I represented you this afternoon.

To that end, I created a Flickr stream of a few dozen shots around the park. (I'm a relative newbie on that venture so go easy on me). Easily one of the most photogenic places in the majors. All the shots of McCovey Cove, the bay, the marina etc. were all taken inside the park from a food court in center field. Great stuff.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

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Game One audio recap: Giants get the jump on Tigers

Giants jump
A leaping Angel Pagan (right) and teammates celebrate the final out (AP photo).

SAN FRANCISCO -- For thoughts on Pablo Sandoval's three-homer game, the struggles of Justin Verlander, the Giants' continued momentum and what's ahead for the Tigers in Game Two, listen to Mike Harrington's podcast from AT&T Park.


Mike Harrington on Game One

Click here to download the audio

Panda Paws: Pablo's historic night

Pablo HR
Pablo Sandoval rounds the bases after his second home run (AP photo).

SAN FRANCISCO -- No matter what happens the rest of this World Series, we're never going to forget the show Pablo Sandoval put on here Wednesday night. First three at-bats, three home runs. In the absence of hockey, we'll borrow from Rick Jeanneret and say "roll the highlight film":

Here's the list of three-homer games in World Series play:
Babe Ruth, 1926 (Game 4) and 1928 (Game 4)
Reggie Jackson, 1977 (Game 6)
Albert Pujols, 2011 (Game 3)
Pablo Sandoval, 2012 (Game 1)

Here are the other four three-homer games in postseason history:
Bob Robertson, Pittsburgh (Game 2, 1971 NLCS against the Giants)
George Brett, Kansas City (Game 3, 1978 ALCS)
Adam Kennedy, Anaheim (Game 5, 2002 ALCS) 
Adrian Beltre, Texas (Game 4, 2011 ALDS) 

Pretty impressive show. The Giants are red-hot, having not come down from their NLCS high and now on a 28-4 run the last four games against the Cardinals and Tigers. Detroit, meanwhile, looked like a team that hadn't played in nearly a week. The Yankees must have wondered what happened to the team they looked foolish against.

The Tigers' goal for Game Two is simple: Get a split and get out of town. Doug Fister has the ball and has to do what Verlander didn't -- command his fastball down in the strike zone. (This corner's goal for Game Two: Conquering the ballpark wireless system and producing an in-game blog. We got it squared away in the sixth inning Wednesday so we should be good to go).

Madison Bumgarner goes for the Giants trying to rekindle memories of 2010 and erase a rough postseason to date.

This was only one game. The Giants have three more to win. But this is one we'll never forget.

---Mike Harrington
Twitter: @BNHarrington 

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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