Going home or staying home? It doesn’t matter. The San Francisco Giants win the NL Wild Card game with a dominant, complete game performance from Madison Bumgarner, starring in a 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, looking completely out of their league in their short postseason experience for the 2014 season.
Bumgarner had two complete games this season, both of them coming in August. He allowed just four hits and walked one batter while striking out 10, doing an excellent job in finishing at bats with his fastball, something the Pirates have been struggling with this season, but also blending in his curveball quite often, getting six strikeouts that way. It’s still early in the postseason, but that might be the finest pitching performance we’ll see this October.
Edinson Volquez, another curveball “master”, didn’t do so well. He gave up five hits in five innings, translating into five runs. Things didn’t get better once the bullpen got involved, but with the Giants putting on such a dominant pitcher on the mound, the Pirates needed a bit more control and speed from the guy their put their faith in. Volquez said before the game he was calm and that his previous postseason history, not a positive one, didn’t affect him. It didn’t seem that way in the game itself, as the Pittsburgh stands started clearing out very early.
Brandon Crawford hit a grand slam home run off of Volquez in the 4th inning, and that was that. The shortstop hit the 4th grandslam in the history of the Giants, the last of them coming in 2012 from Buster Posey. Another sign that this might be the season for the Giants, as they ended up winning the World Series that year. The surprising thing about his big hit is that Crawford was just 3-of-21 with with 7 strikeouts and no extra base hits during his career when facing Volquez.
The sixth and seventh innings belonged to Brandon Belt, hitting two singles that scored three runners overall. Buster Posey finished the job with another single in the eighth inning. The Giants finished with 11-for-37 when batting, with Joe Panik, Buster Posey, Pablo Sanvodal and Belt himself all getting more than one hit in the game.
And for the Pirates? No extra base hits, just 4-of-32 at the plate, just one walk. Andrew McCutchen was 0-for-3, maybe the most disappointing and disappointed face of the night. The Pirates were a very good hitting team during the regular season but Bumgarner was the wrong matchup for them. The Giants were the wrong matchup for a team finishing 5th in batting average and third in the majors when it comes to getting on base.
The Giants? No one believed in them when they won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. No one actually thinks they can go all the way now, facing the Washington Nationals in the ALDS. But experience and momentum go a long way in the postseason, especially with elite pitchers. It didn’t look that way for certain parts this season, but the Giants pieced it back together at the right time, and don’t look like serious underdogs going into their next series.