San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval lead win


Madison Bumgarner pitched seven innings of one-run ball, and the San Francisco Giants hammered out ten hits, four of them for extra bases, en route  to a 7-1 victory, in the opener of the 2014 World Series, over the Kansas City Royals. The win snapped the Royals’ eight-game postseason winning streak, nine games overall, and left them with a 0-1 deficit in the best-of-seven-series.

Bumgarner, the Giants’ personal road warrior, went seven dominant innings, allowing one run on three hits, walking one and striking out five. His only run allowed came on a solo home run by Salvador Perez, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. In pitching six-and-two-thirds’ innings of shutout ball, before giving up the home run, Bumgarner extended his postseason string of scoreless innings, on the road, to 33 and-a-third innings.

The Giants struck early, when Gregor Blanco led off the game with a full-count single to center field. After Joe Panik flied out out to Lorenzo Cain in center field, deep enough to allow a hustling Blanco to advance to second, Buster Posey singled Blanco to third and up stepped Pablo Sandoval. Continuing to be a big-play guy, Sandoval doubled into left-center field, scoring Blanco, and ending up with Posey being thrown out at the plate, Nori Aoki to Omar Infante to Salvadore Perez at home plate. 

Oct 6, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) hits a ground ball during the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals in game three of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Sandoval showing how it’s done, Hunter Pence then drove a ball over the center field wall, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead, before the Royals even came to bat. James Shields then struck out Michael Morse to end the inning.

The Giants came back in the fourth to score another two runs, when Hunter Pence led off with his second extra base hit of the game, a double down the left-field line, Brandon Belt walked, and Morse singled in Sandoval, making the score, 4-0. Crawford drew a walk, loading the bases, and Blanco drew the third walk of the inning, to force in Belt, bringing the score to 5-0.

The Giants capped the scoring in the seventh with a Blanco walk, a Joe Panik triple and another RBI-hit by Sandoval, this one a single into left field.

The Giants combined four extra base hits, with small ball, to score seven runs in the opener of the Series.

The Panda ended the night with a single, a double, and by reaching base on an error in the ninth. Pence was two for two, with two walks, in five plate appearances. Blanco had one hit and two walks in five appearances; Crawford singled and walked; Belt singled and walked and Panik added an RBI triple.

Bumgarner helped his own cause early, with his glove. In the first inning, with one out and no one on, he speared a shoulder-height liner right back at him by Nori Aoki. In the second he fielded a shattered-bat come-backer, which he fielded, turned, paused, and then threw a careful strike to Joe Panik at second base. Panik made the transfer to his throwing hand in quick-time, and fired off a bullet to first, to complete the double play. Altogether on the game, Giants pitchers accounted for five outs from the mound, on balls put into play.

Oct 11, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval hits a single against the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning in game one of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Javier Lopez came in to pitch the eighth, and Hunter Strickland threw a one-two-three ninth inning, getting two swinging K’s and an infield grounder, to finish out the game. After surrendering four solo home runs, so far in the postseason, it was good to see Strickland given the opportunity to right the ship.

James Shields started for Kansas City and made it only three-and-two-thirds’ innings, being charged with five runs on six hits, with a walk and a strike out. Danny Duffy relieved him with two on and no one out, and limited the damage to the two runners on base. Duffy went three innings total, giving up two runs on one hit. Tim Collins pitched the seventh and eighth innings and Jason Frasor pitched the ninth.

Bumgarner faced his toughest test in the third, when Omar Infante reached on an error by Crawford, and Mike Moustakas doubled into right field, Infante stopping at third. With no one out, all Bumgarner did was strike out leadoff man, Alcides Escobar, and then the dangerous Nori Aoki, before walking Lorenzo Cain, to bring cleanup batter Eric Hosner to the plate. Hosner ended the inning by grounding out sharply to Panik at second, who gunned him out at first.

Streaks were bound to cease, in this opening game of the 2014 World Series, no matter which way the ball bounced: Either the San Francisco Giants were going to end the Kansas City Royals’ nine game winning streak, or the Royals were more likely going to stop Madison Bumgarner’s ongoing streak of scoreless innings while pitching on the road, in the playoffs. Entering the game, Bumgarner’s string had hit twenty-six-and-two-thirds’ innings. With the win, Bumgarner’s streak stretched out to 33 and a third innings.

Another prominent ongoing streak involves the nine postseason series victories, racked up by the Giants. Additionally, the Giants had won a string of four consecutive road openers, in the postseason, going back to the National League Championship Series, in Philadelphia (4-3), in 2010.

Add that win, to the three from this postseason, in Pittsburgh (8-0), Washington (3-2), and St. Louis (3-0), and that makes four. With Tuesday night’s win, that streak now stands at five.

Another streak on the line was Madison Bumgarner’s streak of going seven innings per postseason start, giving up three or fewer runs (5 starts), now extended to six. Pablo Sandoval entered the game with a 23-game streak, reaching base safely in the postseason, so that now stands at twenty-four.

One concern that had arisen before the game, is whether or not the amount of rest for the starting pitchers between starts would be a factor. The last time James Shields pitched was the opener against the Baltimore Orioles, on October 11th, ten days ago. Bumgarner, on the other hand, was pitching on normal rest, having closed out the NLCS last Thursday, meaning that he had four days’ rest.

Notes from Game One:

The Royals and Giants entered the Series with the highest combined winning percentage in the wild-card era, at .818.

Except for the third inning, when the Royals loaded the bases, Kansas City never got more than one runner on base at a time, and they did not steal a base.

If the Giants were to win the World Series, Bruce Bochy would become the tenth MLB manager with three or more titles.

James Shields’ start was his shortest since 2008.

The Royals led the major leagues in stolen bases in 2014.

The Royals had the fewest number of home runs during the regular season, with 95, the fewest number of walks with 380, and the fewest number of strikeouts, at 985.

The Giants were 16-5, prior to the start of the game, overall, on the road, in the postseason since 2010. They are now 17-5.

The Giants dominated the Royals in all facets of the game. They had overwhelming pitching, solid hitting and excellent defense. They also played fundamental ball, advancing runners, drawing walks, and taking advantage of passed balls.

San Francisco improved its postseason record to 9-2, and play the second game of the best-of-seven series, Wednesday night, at Kauffman Stadium, before returning to AT&T Park, Friday night, for Game Three. Jake Peavy will start Game Two, as the Giants try to take a 2-0 lead, before returning to San Francisco.

Ten of the eleven winners of the opening game of the World Series, have gone on to win the whole enchilada. One game is not a series won, but it’s the best possible start.

Great success!

Jun 17, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco (left) gets high-fives after he scored in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports