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MadBum, unlikely hero Gillaspie put Giants in NLDS

NEW YORK -- Madison Bumgarner could teach a masters-level class on pitching under pressure, and Wednesday night's seminar was on efficiency. Bumgarner was able to beat the New York Mets, who got pure dominance from their starting pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, because he outlasted him. Bumgarner added to his reputation as one of the toughest postseason pitchers in baseball history by pitching a complete-game shutout to beat the Mets 3-0 in the National League wild-card game at Citi Field.

The Giants never had to go to their beleaguered bullpen. Mets manager Terry Collins, however, did because Syndergaard's pitch count allowed him to go only seven innings. In the end, Collins' best reliever let him down. Conor Gillaspie, who started only because third baseman Eduardo Nunez had a bad hamstring, hit a three-run home run off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning.

That was one of the few loud sounds all night in what was one of the more memorable pitching duels in recent history.

Bumgarner's legend grows with every October appearance. He allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out six over 119 pitches. The greater the pressure, the more stubborn he becomes. He has pitched 23 innings in postseason elimination games -- all 23 of them were scoreless, a new MLB record.

Familia, who blew three saves in the 2015 World Series, heard some boos as he walked off the Citi Field mound for the last time in 2016.

Syndergaard had reached double digits in strikeouts by the sixth inning, and by then he had thrown 80 pitches. He finished with 10 strikeouts. The Giants didn't pick up their first hit until Denard Span lined one up the middle with two outs in the sixth. As Syndergaard began to get tired later, with his pitch count in the vicinity of 100, he had to dig deep. He was able to get out of the seventh inning, even as his command became fuzzier, and he finished with an outstanding pitching line: seven scoreless innings, two hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts.

Bumgarner pitched with clinical efficiency in the early innings. He needed exactly seven pitches to get through each of the first three innings. The fourth, however, became a more difficult task. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a fastball misplaced over the middle of the plate for a single, and by the end of the inning, Bumgarner had thrown 28 pitches.

The Mets could never find the payoff after making Bumgarner work, however. They wasted a leadoff double in the fifth with a bit of over-daring baserunning by T.J. Rivera, who got caught in a rundown between second and third.

Bumgarner was efficient. Syndergaard was just overpowering. He struck out five of the first nine batters he faced and set all nine down in order. His methods lack subtlety, but they have plenty of voltage. The first pitch he threw was 98 mph. It went up a little from there, hovering around 99 mph most of the evening. He throws a 92 mph slider, which he used to get a groundout from Buster Posey.

Wednesday's game saw good pitching and good fielding work in tandem. Curtis Granderson made a potentially season-saving catch for the Mets in the sixth inning. Brandon Belt connected with a low pitch and sent it soaring toward the deepest part of this outfield, center field. Granderson got a good jump and caught the ball just before colliding with the center-field wall about 408 feet from the plate.

That was the last out of the inning, and it saved at least one run, as Span was on second base. According to Statcast, Belt's drive would have been a hit more than 97 percent of the time.