Madison Bumgarner set a Major League Baseball record, Saturday night, by extending his number of scoreless innings thrown in the postseason, on the road, to twenty-six-and-two-thirds, and the San Francisco Giants defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, to take a one-game-to-none lead in the best of seven, National League Championship Series.
Bumgarner dominated the Cardinals, allowing a total of four singles, two to Jon Jay, one to Yadier Molina, and one to Matt Carpenter, leading off the game. Not until the seventh inning, the same inning that gave the Dodgers such fits, did a base runner get as far as second base, Molina, but he died on third, when pinch-hitter Tony Cruz, struck out to end the inning.
Bumgarner walked one and struck out seven and was helped by a Travis Ishikawa defensive gem, one that saw him make a full horizontal dive and catch of a line drive off the bat of Molina, a dive that Ishikawa made while on the dead sprint. With Jhonny Peralta on board with a walk, Ishikawa’s sparkler ended the fourth inning.
After Bumgarner had thrown 112 pitches, 74 of them strikes, Bruce Bochy brought on Sergio Romo, with two outs in the eighth inning, and Romo retired Matt Holliday on a fly ball to center field. Santiago Casilla threw twelve pitches in the ninth inning, ten of them strikes, in retiring the Cards in order.
oMay 25, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval (48) celebrates with teammates after the Giants defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-1 at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Pablo Sandoval went three for four, including a walk, leading off the two-run second with his first single, and extending the one-run-rally in the third with his second single. Sandoval continues to find a way to get it done in postseason play.
Travis Ishikawa had two hits in three at-bats, and knocked in the first run of the game on what Mike Krukow would call a thang. With the bases loaded, he hit a soft popup down the third base line, that three players converging on, could not snag. Hunter Pence scored the second run a moment later, when Matt Carpenter misplayed Gregor Blanco’s grounder, scoring Pence, and Joe Panik grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
For the Cards, Adam Wainwright started and went four-and-two-thirds innings, being removed after throwing 98 pitches, 58 of them strikes. He gave up three runs, two of them earned, on six hits, while walking three and striking out three.
Marco Gonzalez finished out the fifth, and pitched the sixth, getting the Giants on two infield ground-outs and a K. Carlos Martinez pitched two-thirds of the seventh, and though he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, he escaped when Brandon Crawford grounded out, 4-6, just after Randy Choate relieved Martinez.
Seth Maness pitched a quick and perfect eighth and ninth, giving the Giants a taste of what was being served to the Cards. When the Giants score two runs or more in the postseason, they are now 22-3. Giants starting pitching has a 0.89 ERA for the postseason. After not making an error in the NLDS, the Cards committed two in the game on Saturday.
With the win, the home field advantage now swings back to San Francisco, because they play three of the next four games at AT&T Park, and the Giants are ahead in the series, one game to none. The win tonight was vital and with Jake Peavy going for the Giants tomorrow, they would like nothing more than to return to AT&T Park, up two games to none.
In six playoff games this season, San Francisco is 5-1, and overall, they have won seven of their last eight games. Saturday night, they played excellent defense and kept that small ball game alive. The Giants have scored their last seven runs on a sacrifice fly, base-loaded walk, ground out, wild pitch, single, an error and another sacrifice fly.
If the bats are going to quiet down, but the starting pitching is electrifying, then the Giants have to find an alternative way to get the scoring done. They’re doing that and it’s given them a one game to none lead. They’d probably just rather have had a three-run home run, but in lieu of that, a single, an error and a sacrifice fly will do quite well.