By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – One pitcher came into the World Series with a reputation for pitching well in big games.
The other was James Shields.
San Francisco left-hander Madison Bumgarner continued to cement his status as the best postseason pitcher in baseball on Tuesday, as he gave up one run over seven innings and the Giants rolled past Kansas City, 7-1, in Game 1 of the World Series.
Bumgarner’s only mistake was a two-out home run to Royals catcher Salvador Perez in the seventh inning, which ended his MLB-record scoreless innings streak on the road at 32 2/3 frames.
It was also the first run he had surrendered in three World Series starts, spanning 21 innings, dating back to 2012.
Of all those innings, though, none may have been more impressive than the third against the Royals, who put runners on second and third with no outs. After Bumgarner struck out Alcides Escobar and Norichika Aoki, he walked Lorenzo Cain to load the bases for Eric Hosmer, who promptly grounded out to second to end the threat.
“Bum has great poise out there, and he showed it tonight,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “He doesn’t get flustered, and he keeps coming at you.”
Bumgarner then retired the next 11 batters he faced before the Perez homer.
By then, though, it was too little, too late for the Royals, whose postseason winning streak came to an end at 11 games, as they lost for the first time in nine playoff games this year.
When Los Angeles Dodgers righty Josh Beckett announced his retirement at the end of the season, gone was the best postseason pitcher of his generation. While it’s still a little too early in the process, Bumgarner is certainly on his way to staking his claim to the throne.
Bumgarner’s 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA in five starts this postseason. He’s also won all three of his World Series starts with an 0.41 ERA and is an amazing 5-0 with a 0.72 ERA in five road starts in the playoffs for his career.
His six straight postseason starts of seven-plus innings with seven or fewer baserunners is also an MLB record.
Clayton Kershaw is probably going to win the NL Cy Young Award, but if the Giants win three more games you won’t hear one complaint from Bumgarner.
FAMILIAR SCRIPT FOR THE GIANTS
Strong starting pitching? Yes that too, but the Giants essentially put this game away with three first inning runs and have now scored first in seven straight World Series games dating back to 2010 Game 4, and 13 of their past 17 since 2002.
By the way, how good has the Giants pitching been? Well, dating back to the start of Game 4 of the 2010 World Series, the San Francisco pitching staff has compiled a 1.13 ERA, permitting just eight earned runs over 64 innings.
As for opposing pitchers, well, let’s just say they haven’t been as impressive, especially in Game 1. In fact, Game 1 starters against the Giants in 10 games going back to 2010 are 0-8 with a 7.25 ERA.
Shields was just the latest big name to get hammered by San Francisco in a Game 1 of the World Series. Shields, Cliff Lee (2010) and Justin Verlander (2012) have now surrendered 21 hits and 17 runs over 11 2/3 innings in World Series Game 1s against the Giants.
Speaking of Shields …
MORE LIKE “NOT SO BIG GAME” JAMES, RIGHT?
Is there a worse nickname in sports right now than “Big Game James” Shields?
Shields, who was starting on 10 days rest, continued to struggle in these playoffs, as he gave up five runs and was able to record just three outs in three-plus innings of work.
His ERA in four starts this postseason now stands at a putrid 7.11.
Before Shields there were 35 pitchers to make a World Series start on 10 or more days of rest in the wild card era. Those pitchers were 10-14 with a 4.09 ERA, and they’re 4-12 with a 4.13 ERA in the past 10 postseasons.
Still, Royals manager Ned Yost stated that he would start him in Game 5, if necessary.
RIGHT WHERE THEY WANT THEM?
As bleak as it looked on Tuesday, all is not lost for the Royals, who will face pitchers who had a losing record in each of the next three games.
Plus, the last time the Royals were in the World Series back in 1985 they lost their first two home games to the St. Louis Cardinals and eventually rallied to win the series in seven games.
Oh, and another little nugget from MLB’s PR team. The last five road teams to win Game 1 have lost Game 2.
GAME ONE WINNERS
The winner of Game 1 of the World Series has gone on to win the Fall Classic 68 times.
That has been the case in 10 of the last 11 and 15 of the last 17 World Series beginning 1997, with 2002 (San Francisco defeating Anaheim) and 2009 (Philadelphia defeating New York) the lone exceptions.
It has also occurred in 17 of the last 20 and 22 of the last 26 Series. In addition to San Francisco and Philadelphia, the only other exceptions in the last 26 Fall Classic were both by Atlanta, first game winners versus Toronto in 1992 and New York in 1996, but losers of each Series in six games.
LOOKING AHEAD TO GAME 2
San Francisco will try to take a commanding lead back to the bay area behind veteran Jake Peavy on Wednesday in Game 2.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Peavy, who was just 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA and 20 home runs allowed in 20 starts for Boston before he was traded to the Giants.
Since he’s been in San Francisco, though, Peavy has resembled the pitcher who won an NL Cy Young Award for Bochy with the San Diego Padres in 2007.
Peavy pitched to a 2.17 ERA and won six of his 12 starts with the Giants after the late-July deal. He’s also carried that into the postseason, surrendering just two earned runs in 9 2/3 innings in two starts.
The Royals, meanwhile, will turn to 23-year-old rookie Yordano Ventura, who has been battling some shoulder issues. He left his ALCS start versus the Orioles with tightness in his right shoulder after allowing four runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
After pitching to a 3.20 ERA during the season, Ventura has allowed seven runs in 13 innings this postseason.
Of course, Ventura almost ended the Royals’ postseason chances when he served up a three-run home run in relief of Shields in Kansas City’s wild card game. He bounced back with a marvelous ALDS effort against the Los Angeles Angels, though, before being roughed up by the O’s.