Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bumgarner, Giants Dominate Bucs In 8-0 Romp To End Buctober

Eddie was a little tight and a little high to Gregor Blanco to start the game, not unexpected given the crowd. He hung a change that was whacked to the RC track; Cutch was under it. A grounder was followed by a sliding grab by Cutch, and Volquez had the first inning, and hopefully the butterflies, by the boards. Madison Bumgarner had no problems, getting a fly from Josh, a roller by Jordy and a chasing whiff of Cutch.

Eddie struggled with his command a little more in the second. Pablo Sandoval rolled a soft singled into right to open. Hunter Pence was jammed and sent a gentle broken bat liner to Jordy. Brandon Belt saw his foul up the third base line bounce off Josh's mitt following a long run, and used the reprieve to walk after being in an 0-2 hole. Brandon Crawford lined a ball hard to right, but Travis didn't have to move a step to snare it. Travis Ishikawa went down swinging.

Russ opened with a roller up the middle. Starling followed with a ball just short of the track in center in front of the 399' mark for the first out. Walker looked at an 0-2 heater right down the middle, and Gaby popped out to keep the game at zeroes.

After a couple of soft grounders to second to start the third, Joe Panik slapped a single to center. Buster Posey lifted a fly to right to end the inning. Bumgarner K'ed two of the three Pirates; oddly, only Eddie could put a ball in play. And Bum is at just 28 pitches after three frames, filling up the strike zone.

Eddie's lack of location hurt him badly in the fourth. Russ called for a two strike hook in the dirt; it came in knee high and Kung Fu Panda lined it to right for a knock. Then a bit of bad luck; Pence hit a perfectly paced DP grounder, but it found the hole through the left side. Belt walked, and Volquez was neck deep in hot water. A 1-2 hung curve to Crawford was launched over the Clemente Wall; Eddie has no idea where his pitches are going tonight. He got the next three, but gave Bumgarner a four run lead in the process.

Cutch walked after Jordy became the fifth K, chasing a hook in the dirt. Russ tried to bunt his way on; the ball was a little too firm and Sandoval made a clean grab and throw to get him by a quarter step. The Bucs thought of challenging, but kept the review in their pocket (they would have lost). Marte flew out, and Bumgarner had his shutdown frame after the Giants big inning.

Eddie came out for the fifth; oddly, the Bucs had no bullpen action, considering it's a winner-take-all game. He didn't need it this time around, tossing a clean frame. Bumgarner had an easy inning, running his K count to seven - four have been chases (three have been 2-3 put outs), two swinging and one looking. He's at just 62 pitches with all those whiffs. The Bucs have let a lot of first pitch strikes go by to start in the hole.

Pence walked to open the sixth, and that brought Justin Wilson into the game. Eddie's had games where his control has been rough before and found a way to wiggle around it, but not tonight. Wilson didn't exactly help the cause; a wild pitch and single by Belt off The Kid's glove made it 5-0. After a K, Ishikawa walked and Jared Hughes along with JT took the field in a double switch. Hughes cleaned up the mess. Josh singled with an out, but it led to nothing but a bouncer, fly out and some fans calling it a night already.

Panik led off the seventh with a single through the left side. Posey followed suit and Sandoval walked. with the infield in, Pence grounded into a 4-2 force at home. Belt made up for it by blooping a single to center to plate a pair and bring on Bobby LaFromboise (no, I'm not making this up; it has to be the eighth before Tony Watson, who should have been in to start the inning, gets the ball) But Bobby did the job, getting Crawford to bang into a 4-6-3 DP. The Bucco action was limited to a Starling single.

Big John Holdzkom worked the eighth. With two gone, he gave up a walk and back-to-back ground ball singles to plate another run. With an out, JT reached on an error and went to third when Josh's tapper up the third base line went for a single with a bad throw to first. Jordy whiffed chasing a hook in the dirt and Cutch bounced out. The only question is whether at 101 pitches  Bumgarner get to go for a complete game shutout or not against the Buccos.

Hey, Mark Melancon took the hill for the ninth, and it's definitely not a save situation though he did toss a 1-2-3 inning. Bumgarner took the hill to face Martin, and the remaining crowd showed some life by breaking into a "Re-sign Russ" chant. he flew out, got an ovation as he went to the dugout and gave the fans a hat-tip in what may be his final Pirate game. Marte K'ed chasing - six of Bum's 10 K have been on chases - and The Kid popped out foul beside the plate to end the Buc's 2014 season.

Bumgarner's gem of a game should lay to rest the debate about tonight's starter, unless you think Gerrit Cole had nine zeroes in him. And you can see the logic behind Hurdle and the organization going all in for the division title. In a single game, anything can happen, and it all happened for San Francisco tonight, so they will travel to Washington for the NLDS on Friday.

It was a disappointing ending to a season that saw the Pirates rebound from a couple of dreadful stretches to reach the dance again, but at least they were there. The off season this year should keep everyone engaged - the Bucs have four free agents and 13 players in various stages of arbitration, so they'll have there work cut out in putting together another competitive roster in 2015. And hey, in 187 days, it starts all over again.
  • Tonight's 40,629 fans comprised the largest baseball crowd in the history of PNC Park.
  • Josh had two of the Pirates' four hits.
  • Madison Bumgarner joins these pitchers who have thrown complete game shutouts with double-digit K's in winner-take-all games: Sandy Koufax in 1965 & Justin Verlander in 2012 per Jayson Stark. A short and impressive list.
  • The Giants have won seven straight postseason games in which they faced elimination, tied with the Royals for longest streak, per Elias.
  • The Giants six and seven hitters, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, drove in seven of the eight SF runs. 
  • San Francisco hit 19 ground balls tonight; seven went for hits (.368).
  • In the game's only light hearted moment, a grandma managed to wander into the Giant dugout during the game before she was turned around and led to her seat. In the mandatory goofball moment, a streaker was tackled scampering through the outfield.
  • The last time the Pirates and Giants met in playoffs in the 1971, seven Hall-of-Famers were on the two rosters: Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski for the Bucs along with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry of SF. (thx Elias Sports)
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