SAN FRANCISCO – Doug Fister took the Giants’ best shot without even flinching.
Pitcher Fister overcame a line-drive single off his head to take a shutout bid into the seventh inning for Detroit before the Tigers lost Game 2 of the World Series, 2-0, to San Francisco on Thursday night.
“I’m fine,” Fister said. “I got a little bump. No damage. Just a matter of I threw a changeup that he squared up and it came right back at me.”
Fister ended up with the hard-luck loss when he allowed a leadoff single to Hunter Pence in the seventh and reliever Drew Smyly was unable to strand him in part because of a perfect bunt that never rolled foul.
Fister was traded by the Seattle Mariners on July 30, 2011, to the Tigers along with relief pitcher David Pauley in exchange for outfielder Casper Wells, pitcher Charlie Furbush, minor league infielder Francisco Martinez and a player to be named (pitcher Chance Ruffin).
It was remarkable that Fister was even in the game that long after it looked as if he could have been knocked out in a scary moment in the second inning.
Gregor Blanco hit a line drive that struck Fister just above the right ear with a runner on first and two outs. The ball ricocheted into short center for a single.
“Whoa!” umpire Dan Iassogna said as he popped out from behind the plate, adding: “Doug, you OK?” when he got to the mound.
The 2006 seventh-round pick by the Mariners looked unfazed by the blow and remained in the game after being checked out by a trainer, manager Jim Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones.
“I was scared to death when it happened,” Leyland said. “I didn’t really realize exactly how it hit him. It kind of grazed I want to say the side of his head, the back of his head. It was a scary moment, obviously, but he was fine.”
Fister then walked Brandon Crawford to load the bases but escaped the jam by retiring fellow pitcher Madison Bumgarner on a soft looper to shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander didn’t allow another hit until Pablo Sandoval singled with two outs in the sixth, retiring 12 batters after the walk to Crawford.
Leyland sent Fister back out for the seventh with 108 pitches to face the right-handed hitting Pence before a run of three consecutive lefties came to the plate. Pence ended Fister’s night with a single to left field on his 114th pitch.
That proved costly. Smyly walked Brandon Belt, and Blanco reached on a bunt single that Smyly, catcher Gerald Laird and third baseman Miguel Cabrera tried to will foul.
But the ball tantalizingly stayed on the dirt between the foul line and infield grass before rolling to a stop in fair territory, loading the bases with no outs for the Giants.
Leyland chose to play the infield back to avoid a big inning. But that decision allowed a run to score when Crawford bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.
“We felt like we played double-play depth because we felt like we couldn’t give them two runs. That’s why we did that, and we got the double play,” Leyland said.
“To be honest with you, we were absolutely thrilled to come out of that inning with one run. Absolutely thrilled. I mean, we had to score anyway.”
Fister allowed one run and four hits with one walk with three strikeouts.
He became the first Tigers pitcher to last at least five innings in five consecutive postseason starts. But he is winless in three postseason outings this year because the bullpen blew leads his first two times on the mound.