Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Bumgarner latest Giant among men
It was all about the starting pitching for the San Francisco Giants, who advanced to the NLCS with a win at Turner Field over the Braves.
Madison Bumgarner (age 21) became the youngest Giants pitcher to win a postseason game and the second-youngest starting pitcher to win a series clincher, behind only Fernando Valenzuela.
The Giants starting pitchers -- Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Bumgarner -- combined for an 0.93 ERA, the third-lowest by an NL team in a postseason series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Elias also noted that this was the first postseason series ever in which all of the games were decided by one run.
Bumgarner was a difference-maker. He was fantastic in his last nine regular-season starts and was again great in Game 4. On Monday, he had his highest average fastball velocity (93.4 MPH according to our Inside Edge video data), and got hitters to chase his fastball more frequently in any start in his brief career.
The determining factors were four players, none of whom started the season with the team -- Bumgarner, Santiago Casilla, Buster Posey and Cody Ross.
The Giants have now twice won postseason series-clinching games at Turner Field, amazing considering they've only won one regular-season series there since the ballpark opened in 1997. They advance to their fifth NLCS, having won two previously (1989 and 2002) and lost two (1971 and 1987).
It was Bobby Cox's final game as a major league manager. Cox set an all-time record with his 16th career postseason appearance. He retires with one World Series title, with the 1995 Braves. There were some disappointing defeats along the way (the Braves have now lost eight straight postseason elimination games at home), but 2,504 regular season wins (fourth all-time) and a lot of good memories.
The Giants meanwhile head to an NLCS matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies. The teams split six games during the regular season. The key will be whether their pitching can shut the Phillies down -- during the regular season, they held Phillies hitters to a .226 batting average and three home runs -- and whether their hitting can get anything done against a staff that got two shutouts in its NLDS sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.