His expression doesn't change. In fact, to be fair, there's no expression on Madison Bumgarner's face to change. It's as if he takes an invisible cloth and wipes his face clean of emotion. Up by 10 or down by 10 runs, playing in heat or rain, playing at day or during the day, playing with a hangnail for gosh sakes, Bumgarner gives nothing away. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
"I don't want to discuss mechanics right now," the Giants' lefty said Thursday. "It's not the place or time for that."
And this was the question I asked to provoke that kind of terse response: What was the change you made in your delivery that made you effective tonight?
The way Bumgarner replied, with no elevation voice or tone, no facial twitch that indicated even annoyance, he left little doubt he would take his little secret with him to his grave. Some pitchers are peculiar that way. They keep what they even ate for breakfast a secret. The Tigers would like to know, however. Tell us, please, BumMad.
See, if you can't beat 'em, like Detroit couldn't beat Bumgarner Thursday night, then maybe the Tigers could pass his little secret on to their pitchers, the art of throwing a baseball well that complicated.
"It's not easy to fix yourself like that," said fellow pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, "especially in such a short period of time. And he wasn't just OK tonight. He was really good."
The pitcher who had a 2-6 record and a 6.85 earned-run average in his last nine starts, the pitcher who was bumped from the starting rotation in the NLCS because he was 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA, the pitcher who hadn't pitched in 10 days, that guy went out in the latest biggest game of his life and threw a two-shutout for seven innings in the World Series.
Yeah, the Tigers would like to know the adjustment Bumgarner made.
"Madison came more over the top," said catcher Buster Posey. "That helped his location and made his ball sharper (breaking)."
"He kept his hand on the top of the ball when he released it," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "And when he made his turn (pivoting his body to the left in his delivery) he was more compact doing it."
Please, tell us more, Bruce.
"It would take too long," Bochy said.
Well, maybe Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti would elaborate? After all, it was Righetti who worked with Bumgarner in the last 10 days who found the flaw in his delivery and corrected it.
Dave is not talking, said a member of the Giants' public relations staff. Sorry.
For a minute there I thought I was asking for the launch codes of a nuclear missile.
And then it hit me. I remember what a Giants' club official told me before Game 1 of the World Series.
"We prepare really well for the other team's hitters," the official said. He was referring to the recently concluded NLCS thumping of St. Louis when the Cardinals looked lost and helpless. In a very similar fashion the Giants have the Tigers in the same bind.
OK, so it's only been two games of the 2012 World Series but the earned-run average of the two Giants starters is 1.42. That's not a very good ERA. That's lights out ERA, the kind of ERA that wins World Series and prompts people to scurry to the record books.