Game 2 of the World Series will be all about momentum and finding a way to sustain it.
If the Giants win it, they get to head off on the road knowing that the momentum is fully in their favor. And if they don't…Well, Detroit will have a nice little edge as it heads back to familiar territory.
If the Giants can get a win with Madison Bumgarner on the mound—especially against a team that hits like the Tigers—that will certainly be a big, big plus.
The pitchers we're seeing for the Giants in the first couple of games of this series are not necessarily the pitchers we've expected to see, due to the fact that San Francisco is on much shorter rest than the Tigers after taking the Cardinals to seven games in the NLCS.
After Barry Zito's outing in Game 1, Madison Bumgarner will take the hill in Game 2, while the Tigers will go with Anibal Sanchez. Maybe saving their big guns until later in the series—perhaps when they have their backs against the wall—will benefit the Giants, who have fallen perilously behind in each of their postseason series before surging back for the win.
Or perhaps, finally, the magic will run out against an American League team that looked utterly dominant in a sweep of the Yankees in the ALCS.
Here's where you can catch Game 2 as well as the keys for each team heading into it.
Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco, Calif.
When: Thursday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. ET
**For a full schedule of the World Series, click here.
Giants' Key to the Game
Clearly, a lot is being expected of Madison Bumgarner in this critical Game 2, and he can't respond to this call the way he responded in Game 2 of the LDS, or the way he responded in Game 1 of the NLCS.
There is no shortage of people questioning Bruce Bochy's judgment in naming Bumgarner the Game 2 starter because of the lack of success the southpaw has had in the playoffs thus far. The 23-year-old got slaughtered by Cincinnati back on Oct. 7, allowing four runs on seven hits in just 4.1 innings.
He was even worse in the NLCS against the Cardinals, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing six runs on eight hits. Bumgarner has allowed three homers and has struck out a mere six batters, posting an 11.25 ERA over those two starts.
But this is a pitcher who won 16 games for the Giants in 2012 and posted a 3.37 ERA in the process. What he needs to do is forget about his last two outings and come into this one with a clear head and a sense of urgency to prove that he deserves to be pitching on this stage, in this game.
It won't be easy against Detroit, owners of the highest team batting average in the American League. But Bumgarner needs to last at least five or six innings, at the very least, and try to hold those bats at bay.
Tigers' Key to the Game
One more game on the road, and then they get three at home—and winning this one at AT&T Park could be a huge boost to this team's psyche.
Getting that win comes down to putting Bumgarner in a hole and getting in his head. It means coming out aggressive and coming out swinging. It means keeping the monkey on Bumgarner's back instead of letting him begin anew in the World Series.
The more baserunners the Tigers can produce in the first few innings, the better—not only because that is sure to get in Bumgarner's head, but also because wearing him down and getting him out of this game will pay off big for the Tigers.
The Tigers' pitching rotation has been brilliant thus far in the playoffs. Against the Yankees in the ALCS—the second-best hitting team in the American League—Detroit allowed more than a single run in a game just once. This staff has produced two shutouts this postseason and has held its opponent to a single run three more times.
Pitching is the last thing the Tigers have to worry about. As long as they can get their bats going early in this one, it should be in the bag for them.