Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis will be offering his analysis of the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers throughout the World Series. Known for his defensive prowess, Ellis batted .270 and led the Dodgers in walks this season, though after Game 1 he sounded entirely envious of Barry Zito's hitting approach.
There were times during the season when I would come off the field frustrated or angry or discouraged by the way the game was going for the Dodgers that night.
With perfect timing, my reality check would kick me right in the gut. The music would die down and then everyone would stop and stand as our public-address announcer would introduce the veteran of the game.
I thought about those moments as I watched U.S. Marine, triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient Cpl. Nicholas Kimmel honored and applauded during Thursday's pregame festivities. These types of introductions happen at nearly every game in every ballpark.
During a time we unfortunately refer to in-game at-bats as "battles," throw around "hero" and "going to war" in discussing opponents, it's important to pause and understand who allows us to play this great game.
Player(s) of the game
Doug Fister gave the Tigers exactly what they had to have — a shutdown performance against a hot Giants lineup. Fister survived a scary line drive off the side of his head and used a great mix of pitches to put up a quality start.
Only Madison Bumgarner proved the critics (that's me) and the experts (that's Steve Dilbeck) wrong by absolutely dominating the Tigers hitters. He and catcher Buster Posey's game plan of pounding the righties inside early and putting them away outside late was just a great recipe.
After Fister allowed a leadoff single to Hunter Pence to open the seventh, rookie Drew Smyly came in to face three Giants left-handers at the bottom of the lineup. A walk, a bunt single and bouncer for a double play scored the first Giants run. Tough way for a rookie pitcher who had been a starter most of the year to make his World Series debut.
Barry Zito and Bumgarner are unorthodox lefties with quirks in their deliveries. I wonder if the lack of plate appearances against these pitchers was tough for Tigers hitters to adjust to.
The umpiring has been fantastic thus far. Bang-bang plays on the bases have been spot on and the strike zones have been consistent. (Those were hard sentences for me to write.)
We've been spoiled by DVR and I usually just happily blow through the commercials, but watching Thursday's game in real time did provide a pleasant surprise. I watched "Saturday Night Live" last weekend and was amused, though not overly enthralled with commercial parodies of Brad Pitt pitching Chanel No.5. After seeing the real thing between innings, I was laughing hard thinking back of the spoof. Always nice to have a "now I get it" moment every once in a while.
Game 3 preview
Anibal Sanchez takes the mound in a must-win game for Detroit versus Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants. Both pitchers have been extremely hot this postseason. The Tigers will be energized by their home crowd and will need to get a lead early to create some positive vibes.