Madison Bumgarner has had several outstanding post-season starts during his brief career, but his effort in the win-or-go-home Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was his best yet. Staked an early lead, Bumgarner diced through the Pirates offense en route to a four-hit shutout. Bumgarner struck-out 10 and walked just one. He needed only 109 pitches to complete the game.
It was clear early on that Bumgarner had his good stuff and that his counterpart - Pittsburgh starter Edinson Volquez - did not have the same command. Although he held the Giants scoreless through the first two innings, Volquez was frequently missing his target and several Giants hit the ball hard.
San Francisco broke through in the third inning. Pablo Sandoval led-off with a single and Hunter Pence followed with a single of his own. Brandon Belt then walked on a full count to load the bases for shortstop Brandon Crawford. Volquez got ahead of Crawford, but he caught too much of the plate with his two-strike offering and Crawford blasted it into the seats. The grandslam was the first ever hit by a shortstop in a post-season game.
That 4-0 lead was all Bumgarner needed, but the Giants tacked on four more runs just for good measure. Belt singled home Pence in the sixth and then drove-in two more with a single in the seventh. Buster Posey finished the scoring with a run-scoring single in the eighth.
Volquez was tagged for five runs in five innings in taking the loss. Josh Harrison was the only Pirates' hitter to have more than one hit (he went 2-for-4) and all four of the Pirates' hits were singles. Bumgarner is the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a complete game without allowing an extra-base hit and striking out 10 in a playoff game.
San Francisco will take on the National League's best regular season team - the Washington Nationals - in the division series, which begins on Friday in D.C. Stephen Strasburg was named Washington's Game One starter.Crazy Catch Video: Hooking A Bizarre Sawfish