By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – The San Francisco Giants got a combined nine outs from their starting pitchers in Games 6 and 7. Yet here they are celebrating a third World Series title in five years.
How is that even possible?
Well, had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it.
San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner put forth a postseason performance we may never see again.
The Giants left-hander went seven innings to win Game 1, then pitched a four- hit shutout in Game 5. But what he did in Game 7, though, is something people will be talking about for years.
On just two-days rest and his team leading, 3-2, Bumgarner entered the game in the fifth inning and tossed five more scoreless innings to lower his overall World Series ERA to an amazing 0.25, while earning the save in the decisive seventh game.
Bumgarner got a little scare in the ninth, as Alex Gordon ripped a single back up the middle that center fielder Gregor Blanco compounded with a two-base error. But with Gordon on third, Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to pop out in foul territory to third baseman Pablo Sandoval to put a bow on one of the most impressive postseason runs in baseball history.
Twenty-one innings in this World Series and he allowed just one run.
He threw 68 pitches on Wednesday after throwing 117 on Sunday and looked as if he could have thrown 100 more.
Two wins and a save. Never has an MVP choice been easier.
You want more numbers?
Bumgarner pitched 52 2/3 innings this postseason, which was the most ever in a single playoffs, eclipsing Arizona�s Curt Schilling (48 1/3 in 2001). He gave up just six earned runs in the postseason and his 1.03 is the third best in a single playoff run.
His 0.43 ERA against the Royals was also the lowest in a single World Series among pitchers with at least 15 innings since Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax compiled a 0.38 ERA for the 1965 Dodgers.
We all knew Bumgarner would be there in some fashion on Wednesday. Personally, I figured he’d be able to give the Giants two innings, maybe three if everything broke right.
But five? And those five? Are you kidding me?
Bumgarner is not going to win an NL Cy Young Award this season. In fact he probably won’t even get a first-place vote. But what he has earned here this past month means a whole lot more.
He very well could be the best World Series pitcher of all-time.
As incredible as Bumgarner was the Giants don’t win Game 7 without the double play started by second baseman Joe Panik in the third inning.
With Lorenzo Cain on first base after a leadoff single, Eric Hosmer ripped a sharp grounder headed towards right-center field. Panik dove, snared the ball as it came up on a big hop, and flipped the ball with his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Crawford fired to first, and Hosmer slid into first base, ahead of the throw and was called safe.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged the call and after 2 minutes, 47 seconds, Hosmer was called out, delaying one of the finest World Series double plays you’ll ever see.
Not to mention killing whatever momentum the Royals may have had. The Giants scored the go-ahead run in the next inning and Bumgarner entered the game the inning after that.
Goodnight, the lights.
You can debate whether or not the Giants are a dynasty all you want. Yes they haven’t won back-to-back titles, but they are just the third team in almost 70 years to win three championships in five years. And they have done it in the free agent era.
That’s good enough for me.
One thing that is not up for debate, though, is just how good Madison Bumgarner was this October.