Unable to capitalize on a two games to none scenario, the San Francisco Giants lost to the Washington Nationals, 4-1, Monday afternoon at AT&T Park, under balmy October skies. Doug Fister, in a rematch of Game Two of the 2012 World Series, turned the tables on Madison Bumgarner, and beat him at his own game, by pitching seven dominant innings of shutout ball.
Fister surrendered no runs on four hits, while walking three and striking out three. The Giants loaded the bases in bottom of the second inning on a leadoff single by Pablo Sandoval and two walks, but Bumgarner struck out to end the inning. Fister never allowed more than one base runner in any inning after the second.
Bumgarner, having already stepped up to the task by shutting out the Pirates on Wednesday night, was unable to propel the Giants to the NLDS, ironically, because he tried to do too much. In getting off the mound quickly to field catcher Wilson Ramos’ sacrifice bunt attempt in the seventh inning, the left-handed Bumgarner was in good position to get the force at third on Ian Desmond.
Unfortunately, he threw the ball down the left field line and there wasn’t anything a lunging Pablo Sandoval could do. By the time Travis Ishikawa had scattered the bullpen crew while scrambling for the ball, the throw to the plate was well behind the sliding Bryce Harper, and the score was 2-0.
Asdrubal Cabrera then hit a single to left field, scoring Ramos with the third run of the inning. Though Bumgarner went on to retire the side in order, the damage was sufficient. Harper would add a fourth run on a solo shot off of Jean Machi in the ninth, for the Nat’s final run, and the four runs would hold up.
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Bumgarner’s line read seven innings pitched, on six hits, three runs-two of them earned-one walk, and six strike outs. He threw a total of 92 pitches, 62 of them for strikes. Until his errant throw, it was vintage MadBum, with the Nats only getting four singles off of him, and only two base runners on at the same time, once.
However, when your teammates do not score until the ninth inning, a quality start is nothing more than a statistic.
When your teammates do not score, a quality start is nothing more than a statistic.
The ninth started promisingly enough for the Giants, when Pablo Sandoval led off with a single, yet another example of clutch hitting from the effervescent third baseman known as the Panda.
When Hunter Pence doubled him to third, it was game on at AT&T Park, just what the crowd had expected. But Saturday’s hero, Brandon Belt, took a called third strike; Brandon Crawford hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Sandoval, and Travis Ishikawa grounded out to short to end the game.
The Giants had a total of six hits, with Sandoval getting two of them, extending his hitting streak in the postseason to fourteen. Brandon Belt had two singles, Posey had one, and Hunter Pence hit the double in the ninth. The loss snapped the Giants’ ten game postseason winning streak.
Notably, Joe Panik had his second straight 0-fer, after tying a franchise record with five hits in his first two postseason games. Crawford, Ishikawa and Gregor Blanco managed one walk amongst the three of them.
For the Nationals, Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth inning and Drew Storen came in to pitch the ninth, giving up the base hits, but getting out of it. For the Giants, Machi pitched the eighth and two outs into the ninth, giving up the home run to Harper, before Jeremy Affeldt came in to get the last out of the ninth.
No one expected the Giants to sweep the Nationals at the start of the series, so still being up two games to one, with the next game Tuesday, at AT&T Park, is the primary thing to hang onto. The Giants are a talented and experienced team, and expect to encounter adversity during a playoff run.
The main issue right now is simply a lack of run production in the NLDS. Five runs in three games is good enough for a lead in the series at this time, but the bats need to show up tomorrow if the Giants are to prevent another plane trip across the country.