SAN FRANCISCO — Miguel Cabrera shuffled slowly back to the visiting dugout, holding his bat in one hand and his helmet in the other. He might be the best hitter in the major leagues, and he could have tied the game with one mighty swing.
If, that is, someone had gotten on base in the ninth inning. No one did, and the team with thunder in its lineup is halfway to defeat in this World Series.
The Detroit Tigers were expected to pummel the San Francisco Giants, not only because of the big bats of Cabrera and Prince Fielder but because the Giants could not use their best starting pitchers until Game 3.
Well, look who is giant now. The Giants swiped the first two games of the series, with Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain set for the next two games. No team has won the first two games and lost the World Series since the 1996 Atlanta Braves.
For all the talk about how Justin Verlander might prey on the enemy two or three times, the Giants might not have to see him again.
“Pretty sweet,” Giants closer Sergio Romo said.
The Giants won Game 2 on Thursday, 2-0, scoring both runs on outs — one on a double play in the seventh inning, the other on a sacrifice fly in the eighth. The first run followed a bunt that refused to roll foul. The second run followed three walks.
“Slingshots and rocks,” Giants coach Tim Flannery said.
The Tigers got a runner into scoring position in one inning — the second, when Fielder was hit by a pitch and Delmon Young doubled down the left-field line.
Gene Lamont, the Tigers’ third-base coach, waved Fielder home, toward what appeared to be a sure out. Outfielder Gregor Blanco overthrew the cutoff man — shortstop Brandon Crawford — but second baseman Marco Scutaro appeared out of nowhere to complete the relay and throw out Fielder on a very close play.
That the Giants were pesky opportunists on offense should not obscure the brilliant pitching from Madison Bumgarner, whose performance in the National League Championship Series was so wretched that Manager Bruce Bochy removed him from the rotation in the middle of the series.
Bumgarner, given a second chance because of a mechanical adjustment and the Giants’ desire to deploy Tim Lincecum in the bullpen, pitched seven shutout innings. He gave up two hits, struck out eight and maintained his career World Series earned-run average at 0.00, over 15 innings.
But the starting pitcher that attracted all the attention was the Tigers’ Doug Fister, and not because he held the Giants to one run and four hits in six innings.
In the second inning, Blanco hit a line drive at Fister, who turned his head but could not get it out of the way. The ball hit the right side of his head and caromed all the way into center field, and trainers rushed to the mound to check on Fister.
Fister knew where he was. He told the trainers there were two outs, and then he vowed to get the third. The trainers let him stay in the game.
“It’s a little scary for a manager,” Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said, “because you never know if there’s a later reaction.”
After the game, Fister said he had no headaches or other symptoms of a concussion.
“There’s a bump and maybe some laces,” he said. “That’s about it.”
He said he expected the Tigers’ doctors to monitor his condition, but he said he was not aware of plans for particular tests.
“I’m fine,” he said. “No damage.”
The Tigers pray that does not change. They can deal with the Giants again on Saturday.