What a difference a night can make. You see, this time, the crowds weren't gathered for him. Instead, they were waiting on Gregor Blanco and Marco Scutaro — and that says as much about the Giants' momentum-gathering postseason run as anything.
When everything is breaking your way, it's often a different key player or two every night at the center of things. So one night, you can do something only Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols have done and grab all the attention. And the next, you can barely make it back to your locker to dress while the cameras and recording devices are pointing in other directions.
Blanco is a role-player type who grabbed most of the playing time in left field after Melky Cabrera's suspension. And in Game 2, he was part of both pivotal plays that went the Giants' way, giving them a 2-0 lead that history says is an almost-always-win situation.
Teams that have taken 2-0 World Series leads have gone on to win 79 percent of the time, including the last eight and 14 of the last 15. The lone exception? The 1996 Atlanta Braves, who, after winning twice in Yankee Stadium, were swept in the next four games.
So no wonder Blanco said about the 2-0 lead, "Oh, my God, it feels great. This could be the biggest game of the Series. I was thinking if we won it, they're going to be under pressure.''
Blanco's base-hit bunt that refused to roll foul near the third-base line set up the Giants' seventh-inning go-ahead run. When it finally stopped rolling, we had another one for the list in the Giants' postseason of good fortune — right there with Angel Pagan's double off the third-base bag in World Series Game 1, and Hunter Pence's hit-the-bat-thrice spinning single that helped break open Game 7 of the NLCS.
Blanco found himself in a situation that screamed for a sacrifice bunt — runners on first and second with no outs against Tiger rookie left-hander Drew Smyly — and he went one better, a base hit to load the bases. Best bunt of your career, Gregor?
"It has to be. And I think the best at-bat of my career, too,'' he said. "That was unbelievable. I didn't want it to be that close (to the line). I was worried. I thought it might go foul. I just bunted to sacrifice myself and ended up with a bunt single.
"Sometimes, this game is about having luck. You can hit 10 line drives to center, and you can go 0 for 10. We just have to enjoy it and keep going.''
With the Tigers playing their middle infielders back, Brandon Crawford then hit a double-play ground ball that scored the game's decisive run. Given the Tigers' lack of success to that point against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, playing the infield in to cut down a run at the plate could have been the way manager Jim Leyland decided to go. But he didn't.
"We played double-play depth because we felt that we couldn't give them two runs,'' Leyland said. "That's why we did that, and we got the double play. To be honest with you, we were absolutely thrilled to come out of that inning with one run (allowed). We had to score anyway.''
But they never did. The biggest reason came in the top of the second inning, when Blanco and Scutaro combined on a relay to cut down Prince Fielder, who mistakenly tried to score from first on Delmon Young's double into the left-field corner.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
"I think Gene just got a little overaggressive,'' Leyland said. "It was a bang-bang play. I thought he was out, but when Prince reacted, I thought, well, maybe (catcher Buster Posey) missed him. But the umpire made a great call.''
Added Bumgarner: "That might have been a momentum shifter for me. I had some trouble in the second, third and fourth innings (in) the last couple starts, but the defense bailed me out there. It was a huge play.''
Huge because a potential 1-0 lead never emerged for TIgers starting pitcher Doug Fister, who threw the game that had been expected from ace Justin Verlander in Game 1. Fister did exactly what was needed — at least through six innings — holding the Giants scoreless on four hits and a walk.
But it was Pence's single that started the Giants' seventh-inning rally, and Pence who delivered an eighth-inning sacrifice fly for the Giants’ other run. That was more than enough for Bumgarner, who was followed by Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo to complete the shutout.
And when we look back, Giants manager Bruce Bochy's two-headed decision of returning Bumgarner to the rotation for this series, freeing Tim Lincecum to enter as a reliever in key moments of games, may prove to be one that helped turn things the Giants' way.
The decision hinged on pitching coach Dave Righetti's work with Bumgarner, whose late-season ERA spiked due to mechanical issues that caused a drop in velocity and shaky location. Bumgarner made enough progress during three side sessions to restore confidence in him from his manager and pitching coach.
"(His delivery) was a little simpler, more compact,'' Bochy said. "I think he was able to get the ball where he wanted it tonight because of that. Sometimes you get out of sync. Tonight he was right on with his delivery, his rhythm, and just had a good tempo out there.''
Add another near miss in this 2013 baseball season - this time it was Detroit's Anibal Sanchez falling just short of a no-hitter.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.