The San Francisco Giants send out rookie Madison Bumgarner against Derek Lowe in their first attempt to clinch a berth in the National League Championship Series since 2002. The Giants blew a a 1-0 lead and then rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the course of one inning to defeat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 yesterday afternoon.
The Braves are sending out Derek Lowe on three days rest, while the Giants have decided to go with their rookie Bumgarner instead of Tim Lincecum on short rest. Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced before yesterday’s game that Bumgarner would start, but that he would reserve the right to change his mind if he needed Bumgarner during game three. I’d imagine that would also indicate that had the Giants lost yesterday we might have seen Lincecum today on short rest. Instead, with the pressure off at least a little bit, the Giants will go with the rookie.
It’s not surprising that Bobby Cox would go with Lowe on short rest. Lowe has a bit of a rubber arm and is a playoff tested veteran. With the season on the line it makes sense to go with the veteran over rookie Brandon Beachy.
I’d imagine the Giants will end up with a similar lineup to the one they had yesterday. The decision to bench Pablo Sandoval and replace him with Mike Fontenot paid immediate dividends as he tripled in his first at bat and scored the first run of the game. I’d imagine the Giants will keep him in the lineup.
On the flipside, it sounds like the Braves are going with Troy Glaus at third and Omar Infante at second in place of Brooks Conrad. Given Conrad’s struggles in the field it’s not at all surprising that Conrad is headed to the bench.
Although a Giants win is welcome no matter what, if Bumgarner can help nudge the team to victory, it would potentially set up an NLCS Game One battle between Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay. Even if you’re not a Giants or Phillies fan, any baseball fan can appreciate that kind of pitching matchup.