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Madison Bumgarner Was Very Good Already, Now He’s Really, Really Good

With a historic World Series performance, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has cemented his legacy among the all-time greats.

Madison Bumgarner

In 1905 Christy Mathewson pitched 27 scoreless innings in the World Series. In 1911, he had a 2.00 ERA and the Giants lost. In 1912 and 1913, he had earned run averages of 0.94 and 0.97.

Over a century later, the Giants have found their updated version of Matthewson when it comes to World Series pitching and it is Madison Bumgarner.

If it was not apparent in Game Five when Bumgarner pitched a four-hitter in a 5-0 win, it was extremely obvious when he pitched five innings as a relief pitcher in the Game Seven victory over the Kansas City Royals.

There are many reasons why the Giants are champions for the third time, equaling the Boston Red Sox for the team of the century so far. You cannot think of the Giants as World Champions without thinking of Pablo Sandoval’s 26 hits, Hunter Pence, the steady play of rookie Joe Panik at second base, and the rest of the team led by Hall of Fame lock Bruce Bochy.

The Giants are the first to three titles in a span of five years since the Cardinals in 1942, 1944, and 1946 and for as important as everyone else’s contributions are, they do not get this one without Bumgarner.

Bumgarner already achieved a ton during the 2010 and 2012 championship runs but what he did this year is historical. He has now pitched 36 World Series innings and allowed one run while owning a 0.25 ERA.

He retired the side in three innings Wednesday, five innings in Game 5, and four innings in Game 1. With men on base during this World Series, Bumgarner held the Royals to one hit in 20 at-bats.

In his World Series appearances, he retired the side in 18 innings and allowed opponents to go 4-for-36 with men on base for opposing hitters.

Until a late scoring change by MLB, Bumgarner would have joined Randy Johnson as the second pitcher to win three World Series games in the last 45 years. Besides that, Bumgarner would have joined Mathewson as the only pitchers to have three wins, 15 strikeouts, and a 0.50 ERA in the World Series.

Before Bumgarner’s historic outing, Bochy said the right-hander was good for about 50 pitches. Well he did give Bochy 50 pitches – actually it was 50 of 68 pitches for strikes.

“He was throwing so well, there was no way I could take him out,” Bochy told reporters. “Just get on him and ride him. Again, it’s just amazing what he did. The innings were easy, and we had his pitch count about where he ended, and he said he was exhausted at the end.”

Not only that, Bumgarner was on two days rest and 37 of those pitches were above 90 miles per hour. That included the last six to catcher Salvador Perez.

And when third baseman Pablo Sandoval squeezed his foul out like Charlie Hayes did in 1996 against Mark Lemke, Bumgarner had cemented his place in the legacy of Game 7 performances.

It is a collection that includes things like Steve Blass throwing a four-hitter for the 1971 Pirates. It was right there with Mickey Lolich ending the year of the pitcher with a five-hitter for the 1968 Tigers, who did enough to beat Bob Gibson.

It is also up there with Johnny Podres delivering a shutout for the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees. Or maybe it ranks high on the list with Ralph Terry’s four-hitter for the 1962 Yankees against the Giants, a game that ended with Willie Mays on second and Willie McCovey’s line drive settling in Bobby Richardson’s glove.

Or if that is good enough, then maybe it ranks with Jack Morris pitching 10 scoreless innings for the 1991 Twins or Sandy Koufax’s 10 strikeout showing on two days rest for the 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wherever it ranks, it was incredible to watch Bumgarner throw pitch after pitch in the ultimate pressure performance. And for a guy who was really good in the postseason, he’s even better now.

“He’s incredible,” Giants left fielder Mike Morse told reporters. “He’s incredible. He’s a different human being.”

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