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Bumgarner Saves The Giants

November 6, 2014

The 2014 World Series had a little extra juice in the Hickory area as we once again got to watch local product Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants take part in the Fall Classic. We saw him make a small impact in the 2010 Series that the Giants won. We saw him make a bigger contribution in the 2012 World Series title won by San Francisco. What we saw this year from Bumgarner was historical. Bumgarner saved the Giants who won their third World Series in five years. San Francisco’s top starting pitcher had already won games one and five. After the Kansas City Royals won game six to send the series to a game seven, Bumgarner let it be known that he would be available to pitch in relief on just two days rest. 

And he was needed as he strolled out of the bullpen in the bottom of the fifth inning. From that moment on, it was Madison Bumgarner’s World Series. How it ended was how the Giants’ championship season had to end. With October’s most dominant figure dominating one more time. This time as an emergency reliever, doing what no one had ever done in any World Series ever, in an epic 3-2 win over a Royals team that was able to beat everyone in October but him. The Giants would have been happy to get a couple of innings out of Bumgarner in this game. He gave them five. Five? Really? Five innings? Of two-hit shutout relief? On two day’s rest? In Game 7 of the World Series? 

The performance cemented Bumgarner’s legacy as one of the greatest World Series pitchers of all time. His performance was truly needed as the roster of the 2014 Giants does not open eyes.

Buster Posey, L, & Madison Bumgarner celebrate winning the Series

You will not see many known names on the roster other then Buster Posey.

San Francisco was a team that went eight games under .500 over its final 98 games. And it was, essentially, the 10th seed in a 10-team postseason field, the NL’s second wild card, thankful to be allowed to even make the tournament. 

It had a left fielder, Travis Ishikawa, who had never started a big league game in left field until the third-to-last game of the season. It had a No. 3 hitter (Posey) who was so worn down by the grind of catching that he got no extra-base hits in 69 postseason at-bats. It had an emergency leadoff hitter, Gregor Blanco, who hit .153 in October and .143 in the World Series. 

But the Giants did have Bumgarner. You could see a sense of doom hit the Royals hitters when Bumgarner entered the game. Even after he gave up a a single to the first hitter he faced. But that was it. During the next hour, Bumgarner buzzed through the next 14 Royals to reach home plate. And only four other pitchers have retired that many hitters in a row in any winner-take-all World Series game ever played. But the other four were all starters, of course. And they did not do so just two days after pitching a nine-inning shutout. 

Bumgarner stopped a Royals offense that had piled up 10 eye-popping runs the night before and switched off their ignition. A game that seemed in doubt for Giants fans suddenly seemed in control despite the closeness of the game. He was never supposed to go out there for the eighth. He was never supposed to go out there for the ninth. But as the outs and the zeroes kept mounting, it became clear to everyone: It would have taken a court order to get manager Bruce Bochy to take Bumgarner out of this game. 

Lets take a look at some numbers. Bumgarner’s career World Series ERA is down to 0.25, the lowest by any pitcher in history with at least 25 innings pitched. His ERA in this postseason, over a record 52.2 innings, has shrunk to 1.01, the best of any pitcher with 40 or more innings in any postseason.

His five-inning save was four outs longer than any save in World Series history. And his two wins, a shutout and a save, in the same World Series, represented a feat never accomplished by any other pitcher since saves became an official statistic more than four decades ago. Not by a pitcher named Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, or Jack Morris. No, it was accomplished by South Caldwell’s Madison Bumgarner. The pitcher who saved the World Series for the San Francisco Giants.









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