SAN FRANCISCO -- Another day, another stupendous defensive gem that helped turn a World Series win for the Giants. This is getting to be a habit.
In Game 1, it was Gregor Blanco's outfield catches. In Game 2 on Thursday night, it was a group of players executing a relay play that had to be perfect between three men to keep the Detroit Tigers from scoring the first run and perhaps altering the course of a game the Giants ultimately won 2-0.
After Prince Fielder was hit by a Madison Bumgarner pitch to lead off the second inning, Delmon Young followed with a double off the wall in the left-field corner, and Fielder got the wave from Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont to try and chug home.
Blanco turned and threw on a line to the field, and while missing the first cutoff man, shortstop Brandon Crawford, second baseman Marco Scutaro backed up as a second cutoff. Scutaro caught the ball in flight, wheeled and threw a strike to catcher Buster Posey. Posey then made a sweep tag on Fielder's rear end inches before Fielder touched the plate and got the out call from home plate umpire Dan Iassogna.
"It hit off the wall, so I thought (Fielder) would score," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It took two perfect throws to get him. It was a bang-bang play, and a great call by Dan. That's not an easy call there. He was out, and Buster made a good, quick tag."
While it may not have looked perfect, with Blanco overthrowing Crawford positioned in short left field and Scutaro making the saving backup relay, that's how it's supposed to work in that situation, according to both infielders.
"I might have been a little deep, I guess," Crawford said. "(Blanco) threw it over my head, but Scutaro was right there, just how we're taught and how we practice it in spring training. Marco made a great throw, and Buster made a good tag."
Scutaro agreed he only did what second baseman are supposed to do on a relay play from left field.
"I was supposed to be there behind Crawford, just in case Blanco made a bad throw or whatever," he said. "I was kind of taking a look at the runner and also saw the third base coach waving him, so I just caught it and threw it as quick as I could."
The last element was Posey positioning himself perfectly just out of the baseline in front of the plate, accepting the throw and avoiding a collision with the massive Fielder.
"I felt when the ball took the funny bounce (in the left-field corner) that he might send him," Posey said. "I think the throw was intended to go to Crawford, but Scutaro was in the right spot and he made a nice throw."
Posey said he worked on the sweep tag extensively in spring training to try and avoid the kind of collisions that knocked him out for more than half the season last year in his grisly incident with Miami's Scott Cousins. With Fielder coming down the line, it was a no-brainer to take the ball the way he did.
"You want to make sure you're light on your feet," Posey said with a grin. "I don't know. You have to be there in that situation to know what it's like."
Bochy was glad to see Posey take the sweep approach, for safety's sake.
"We've worked on plays at the plate," the manager said. "It's part of the game, and he's going to have plays at the plate. But he was in a good position, made a great tag. Sometimes for a catcher, though, you're caught in an awkward position depending on the throw. You have to give Marco credit with the perfect throw."
From Detroit manager Jim Leyland's perspective, he would have rather not seen Fielder try to take home at all with nobody out.
"I think Gene (Lamont) just got a little overaggressive," Leyland said.
Both Scutaro and Crawford said defense has been the difference for the Giants in many games this season, and particularly in the postseason.
"That's how you win games, pitching and defense," Scutaro said. "That's what we've been doing lately, so we'll go to Detroit and try to keep doing that."
"I think it's a huge part," Crawford said. "Obviously, our pitching has been awesome, which kind of sets up our defense. But we know where to position ourselves defensively because we know the pitchers are going to hit their spots. We're doing a great job defensively."