While one left-handed pitcher from the National League West stole just about all of the pitching spotlight this season, Madison Bumgarner put up Cy Young-caliber numbers too.
The San Francisco ace paced a Giants pitching staff while playing second fiddle to the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw all season. While Kershaw put up astronomically good numbers, Bumgarner's 18 wins and sub-3.00 ERA flew under the radar all season. And the powerful lefty from North Carolina was even better in his first playoff start of 2014. Bumgarner pitched his team into the NLDS with a complete game shutout win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in an 8-0 victory.
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Bumgarner was nearly unhittable at PNC Park Wednesday night, when he allowed just four Pirates hits - all singles - while striking out 10. The occasionally erratic Bumgarner only walked a lone batter and needed just 109 pitches to finish off the game himself. And his team didn't give him any shortage of offense to work with.
It took four innings, but San Francisco did something no team has been able to do in the last two months - get to Edinson Volquez. The Pirates' starting pitcher entered Wednesday's start with a sub-2.00 ERA since the All-Star Break. And he looked like his recent self for the first three innings in front of his home fans.
Giants get to Volquez
Volquez allowed just two hits in those first three frames before Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence singled to start the fourth. Brandon Belt walked to set up Brandon Crawford's grand slam that took just about all the life out of PNC Park. Volquez retired the next three Giants, but the damage had been done. And Crawford's slam only started the scoring.
Belt added the next three RBI's and Buster Posey tacked on an eighth run in the eighth inning with a run-scoring single. The Giants finished the night with those eight runs on 11 hits. Joe Panik also added three hits out of the number two hole in the lineup. Five of the runs came off of the starter Volquez, who lasted only five innings. All of the offense was all plenty for Bumgarner.
Nats up next
The Giants' starter, who also pitched around two errors from his defense, will likely start game three of the NLDS. With the win, the Giants stay on the East Coast to take on the top-seeded Washington Nationals. The Nats won 96 games this season and have yet to announce their starting pitchers for any of the series.