By: Apurv Baichwal
Madison Bumgarner has carried the Giants through this season, and he has been especially essential during this postseason. He has risen through the ranks of Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain to feature himself as the ace of the rotation. He is only 25 years old, yet he is pitching in his third World Series already. His composure and poise on the mound are exquisite, and so far this postseason he has been all but perfect. Through the postseason, Bumgarner has started a whopping six games, and Bochy has mentioned that he “may have to use him again,” meaning that Bumgarner may see action if there is a Game Seven to this World Series.
Through the postseason, Bumgarner has pitched 47.2 innings, as many as some relief pitchers might pitch during an entire season. Although the sheer volume of Bumgarner’s work is impressive, he has been masterful through these innings as he has only allowed seven runs, six earned through the postseason. He has also only allowed 26 hits and six walks making his WHIP a stellar .678. Also his ERA for this postseason is minuscule at 1.14, while he has recorded 41 huge strikeouts as Bumgarner has dominated all the lineups he has faced. Also, he has dominated in the World Series especially, with a truly microscopic career .29 ERA that gives him the record for lowest ERA in the World Series. He also threw two complete game shutouts just this postseason, one in the wildcard game and one today, and he has picked up four wins. Overall, Bumgarner has truly been an ace through the postseason, and he has been so great that it is almost a given that the Giants will win when he starts the game.
Today, this assumption was proven true, as he threw nine scoreless innings for an complete game shutout win where he absolutely baffled and dominated the entire Royals’ lineup. This shutout win marks him as the first pitcher since Josh Beckett in 2003 to throw a shutout in the World Series. He only gave up four hits through the game, and his command was so perfect that he did not give up a single walk. He also struck out eight batters as he completely confounded the Royals. He threw 117 pitches through this outing, and he threw 84 of those pitches for strikes, a hugely impressive clip of 71.8%.
While Bumgarner dominated the game, the Giants’ hitters did have a pretty good night as well, although their achievements pale in the face of Bumgarner’s.
Early in the game, the Giants capitalized on the miscues of the Royals’ fielders to go up early, 2-0. In the second inning, Hunter Pence led off with a single to left, one that slid right under the Royals’ shortstop’s glove. He moved to the right to backhand the ball, but it sped up on the infield dirt, and slid under his glove for a base hit to left. Brandon Belt then wowed both the Royals and the crowd as he laid down a perfect push bunt to the shortstop, which he beat out to first, putting runners on first and second. With the Royals playing the lefty Belt to pull the ball, and shifting their infield to reflect this expectation, Belt saw an opportunity to advance Pence, and possibly even get on base, and he executed perfectly, capitalizing on the Royals’ shift, and the fact that the Royals’ shortstop is not used to fielding bunts, to make it to first and extend the inning. Travis Ishikawa then flew out to deep left-centerfield, but Pence and Belt both managed to advance on this productive out, as Pence advanced first, then Belt read the throw from center going up the line, and he capitalized on the poor throw to advance as well. Brandon Crawford then got his first RBI of the night on a groundout to second base, where the Royals chose to get the out and allow the run, rather than allow the bases to be loaded with one out against Bumgarner. In classic San Francisco style, the Giants knocked their first run in without a hit, something that they have a penchant for.
The Giants struck again in the fourth inning with some more small ball as Pablo Sandoval led off the inning with a single to left that shot down the line past the Royals’ third baseman. Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt each struck out bringing Travis Ishikawa up with two outs, but this time he was even more productive than the last. He singled to left, on ball that once again shot under the shortstop’s glove in a very similar manner to Pence’s hit, advancing Sandoval to second. Brandon Crawford then singled to center, and this ball was bobbled by the center fielder, allowing Pablo Sandoval to score for Crawford’s second RBI, even though Sandoval hesitated rounding third. You can view this sequence, including Ishikawa’s and Crawford’s hits and the Royals’ fielding miscues here.
The game was quiet after this score, until the bottom of the eighth inning when the Giants struck once again. Sandoval and Pence led off the inning with singles, to right and left respectively. After Brandon Belt struck out, Juan Perez made his mark in the World Series with a huge hit. Even though he was brought into the game for defensive help, as he has been all postseason with Ishikawa being a subpar left fielder, Perez still managed to drive in two runs as he hit a huge double off the centerfield wall that literally could not have been hit any harder without leaving the park. This double easily scored both Sandoval and Pence, and the speedy Perez even advanced to third on the throw home. You can view this hit, and see how close Perez was to having his first career home run, even though he has only had one hit all season with runners in scoring position, right here. Brandon Crawford then picked up his third RBI of the game with a bloop single to left, giving the Giants’ their final score of 5-0.
If Madison Bumgarner had not pitched as amazingly as he did, Brandon Crawford’s three RBI night would have been much more widely talked about, and it was still a great feat, but with Bumgarner’s stellar pitching, the runs were not even necessary.
With this win, the Giants go up 3-2 over the Royals in the World Series. They split the first two games in Kansas City, then went 2-1 in the three games at home, exactly what they needed to do to put themselves into position to win it all. Now, they must win one out of the next two games in Missouri, as one more win will give them the World Series. Tomorrow is an off-day for travel, and then the Fall Classic will resume on Tuesday with a 5:07 PDT start time, showcasing right-hander Jake Peavy against the Royals’ right-handed flame-thrower Yordano Ventura. As of today’s game, repeats of matchups have begun. Bumgarner beat “Not So Big Game” James Shields today, just like he did in Game One. Tomorrow’s game will be a rematch from Game Two, but it will hopefully have some better results, as although Peavy pitched alright, the bullpen was awful last time. Hopefully Jake Peavy can be the guy who ends the World Series, and gives the Giants their third ring in five years, but if not, the Giants will have to rely on the final game on Wednesday, where it would hypothetically be win or go home for both teams.
The bullpen was able to rest today as Bumgarner pitched the whole game, and they will gain an extra day of rest tomorrow, so hopefully they can be strong Wednesday to backup Jake Peavy. If the offense can continue to produce any way they can, and the bullpen can pitch well, like they usually do, the Giants have a good chance of ending the Fall Classic with Jake Peavy at the helm.
Stats Courtesy of SanFrancisco.Giants.MLB.com
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