Monday, October 27, 2014

Bumgarner Delivers

Bumgarner was lights-out in the crucial fifth game of the World Series (NYDailyNews)
Madison Bumgarner was spectacular once again last night, pitching the San Francisco Giants to within one game of their third World Series title this decade.

MadBum was electric in front of a capacity crowd at AT&T Ballpark, gifting the fans with one of his best performances in the final game of the season there. He was truly masterful, yielding only four hits and no walks while striking out eight as he shut out the Royals. Only twice did he allow runners to reach scoring position. For the second time this series, in which he now has a 0.56 ERA, the 25 year-old southpaw got the better of "Big Game" James Shields.

Shields, to his credit, pitched well, scattering eight hits over six innings and permitting just two runs. He redeemed his poor Game 1 performance by keeping his team in the game before turning said game over to the bullpen, which for the second night in a row gave the game away. Kelvin Herrera surrendered two runs in his lone inning of work (the seventh), and Wade Davis allowed one in his (the eighth). The way Bumgarner was pitching, spotting him a five run lead may as well have been 15.

Offensively the Giants were led by Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, who continued their monster series with two hits and two runs apiece. Pence is now batting a ridiculous .474/.545/.737 in this Fall Classic, while Sandoval is raking at a .364/.364/.455 clip. Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City bullpen must find a way to neutralize them in Game 6, as well as the always-dangerous Buster Posey, if they're going to have any chance of playing Game 7. Ventura pitched well enough in Game 2, making it into the sixth inning after allowing two runs on eight hits, but given the Royals' recent bullpen woes he may need to be even stingier.

With the series shifting back to Kansas City, San Francisco has two chances to close out the title. In Game 6 the Giants will try to do so behind Jake Peavy, who pitched poorly in Game 2 (four runs in five innings). He'll need to be better than that against Kansas City's live-armed rookie, otherwise his team will be in the unenviable position of playing a Game 7 on the road.

I like the Royals' chances tomorrow night, back at home and with the superior pitcher on the mound. I'd also love to see a Game 7. Hopefully the home team can pull it out.

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