Madison Bumgarner was awesome. James Shields deserved better. The San Francisco Giants tacked on some late insurance runs off the vaunted Kansas City Royals bullpen to win 5-0. We go back to Kansas City, Missouri, with the Giants one win away from a title. Five moments from Game 5:
1. Madison Bumgarner is the man.
— MLB Fan Cave (@MLBFanCave) October 27, 2014
By Game Score (87), that was one of the top 20 starts in World Series history. Tied for the second best since 1969.
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) October 27, 2014
Bumgarner now has 4 career World Series starts of 7+ IP, 0 or 1 run. The last pitcher to do that was Bob Gibson, in 1967-68.
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) October 27, 2014
Madison Bumgarner career in World Series 31 innings pitched 1 run allowed
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 27, 2014
Bumgarner has made 6 starts this postseason, totaling 47.2 IP. Everyone else in Giants rotation: 9 starts, 45.1 IP.
— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) October 27, 2014
You got the feeling it was going to be a long night for the Royals in the second inning. That's when Salvador Perez led off with a single to right field. Then, Mike Moustakas fanned on a 3-2 cutter, Omar Infante struck out on three pitches and Jarrod Dyson struck out on three pitches. The Royals would get two more hits the rest of the night as Bumgarner went the distance for the four-hit, no-walk, eight-strikeout, 117-pitch shutout. A thing of beauty.
It was the first complete game in the World Series since Cliff Lee's in 2009, the first complete-game shutout since Josh Beckett's series-clincher at Yankee Stadium in 2003 and just the fourth complete game since 2000 (Randy Johnson in 2001 had the other).
It's been Bumgarner's postseason, one of the best we've ever seen from a starting pitcher. He's 4-1 with a 1.13 ERA. He's allowed seven runs in six starts. Giants fans were chanting "M-V-P" as he walked off the field. He's carried the Giants this far. Now, he just needs his teammates to carry the final step.
2. Brandon Belt's bunt single in the second inning.
Giants confirm Brandon Belt's beat-the-shift ploy was the first bunt hit of his career. Flan wins again.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) October 27, 2014
The inning started with a misplay by Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, although the play was ruled a hit. Hunter Pence grounded an 0-2 changeup -- there's that putting-the-ball-in-play thing that both the Giants and Royals do so well -- just to the right of Escobar, who tried to make the backhand play but didn't get his glove down. Frankly, it should have been called an error, as Escobar didn't have to move on the play; this is the major leagues.
With the shift on, Belt then laid a beautiful bunt down the third-base line on the first pitch, just beating the throw from third baseman Moustakas. What can you say? Just a great baseball play. You can't fault the Royals for shifting Belt; he'd never bunted for a hit in his career and had one sacrifice bunt. Applaud Belt for the bunt.
Belt then made another heads-up play when Travis Ishikawa flew out to Dyson in deep center. Pence easily tagged from second but Belt alertly tagged from first, testing Dyson's arm, which is below average, and the throw was well offline to second base. Belt is actually a decent baserunner; he took the extra base 32 percent of his opportunities this season, just below the MLB average of 35 percent, so he's not a typical slug-like first baseman. Good play, knowing the park (fly balls go to die) and knowing the fielder.
That set up second and third with one out. How did the Royals play it?
3. Royals play the infield back against Brandon Crawford.
Why would you bring the infield in last night, but concede a run tonight, when you're facing Bumgarner?
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) October 27, 2014
If you're keeping track at home (& I hope you're not), #SFGiants now up to 18 runs scored this postseason on stuff not known as "hits"
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 27, 2014
Brandon Belt's bunting skill, speed, and baserunning awareness created that run. Odd sentence to type.
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) October 27, 2014
Royals manager Ned Yost had three options here:
1. Play the infield in to cut off the run. Who knows, with Bumgarner on the mound you might need to hold the Giants to a zero on the scoreboard. Still, it's pretty early to play the infield in and you increase the chances of Crawford getting a ground ball single that would drive in two runs.
2. Play the infield back and be willing to concede the run. Against Bumgarner, you can't afford to give up a crooked number.
3. Intentionally walk Crawford to load the bases and pitch to Bumgarner and then possibly Gregor Blanco. But keep in mind Bumgarner was maybe the best-hitting pitcher in the majors, batting .258 with four home runs. He's about as big a threat as Crawford. The difference is Bumgarner had a higher strikeout rate, 37 percent to 23 percent, so you are more likely to get a strikeout.
Yost chose option No. 2. Certainly, Bumgarner's ability as a hitter factored in here, and it's understandable that Yost didn't want to give up a big inning early in the game. Crawford pulled a 3-2 changeup to second base, scoring the game's first run.
4. Giants make it 2-0 in the fourth.
Shields looking good. All pitches working. Escobar has to make that play.
— Craig Brown (@royalsauthority) October 27, 2014
SS Alcides Escobar "oles" a single by Travis Ishikawa into LF. Giants have two on with two out in the fourth.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) October 27, 2014
Dyson isn't able to come up throwing, so Sandoval rumbles home on Crawford's dunk single. Not the finest KC defense tonight. 2-0, SF.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) October 27, 2014
The inning began with a good piece of hitting by Pablo Sandoval, taking an 0-1 curveball and hitting a hard grounder to the right of Moustakas, who was playing well off the line. Shields struck out Pence and Belt, but Ishikawa hit a hard grounder to the right of Escobar, who was shaded up the middle. He didn't get his glove down and the ball scooted into left field for a base hit. This was a little more difficult play than the earlier one, but it's Game 5 of the World Series: It's a play you have to make.
For all the accolades Escobar has been receiving for his defense -- he was a Gold Glove finalist and certainly makes the spectacular play -- his Defense Runs Saved total was minus-4. This game showed his inconsistency on defense. He ranked third among shortstops in Baseball Info Solutions' "Good Fielding Play" category with 73 -- but also led with 44 "Defensive Misplays."
From there, Crawford took a little half-swing on a 2-2 changeup from Shields -- low and outside corner, about as good a location as you would want other than throwing it in the dirt, and flared it out to shallow center field. Dyson might have had a play on Sandoval if he had come up with it cleanly, but he bobbled the bounce, and with his below-average arm and Sandoval's two-out jump, it might have been a long shot to get the Panda anyways.
Wade Davis is coming in for the Royals. Ned Yost's double switch to get Kelvin Herrera two innings is completely wasted. Just brutal.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 27, 2014
You know what hasn’t changed? The #Royals need to win 4 games. Grab 2 at The K and there’s a parade.
— Craig Brown (@royalsauthority) October 27, 2014
Now, let's be honest here: Butler isn't exactly Babe Ruth. As bad a year as he had (for him), he did hit .321/.387/.460 against left-handed pitching and has been better than that over his career. There were those who thought Butler should have started at first base in place of Eric Hosmer to get another righty bat in there against Bumgarner.
Yost had a chance to use Butler as the tying run in the seventh inning when Moustakas came up with one out and Hosmer on first. Moustakas can't hit left-handers. Bumgarner has allowed two home runs all year to lefties. This was the spot for Butler. Instead, Moustakas hit and flew out and Infante grounded out.
That led to a bit of a curious double-switch. Yost put Nix at second base, batting ninth, and inserted Kelvin Herrera into Infante's spot. This meant Yost planned on letting Nix bat in the eighth and using Herrera for two innings. Yost could have simply put Herrera in the 9-hole and used some combo of Butler, Norichika Aoki and Josh Willingham to hit for Dyson and Herrera and then use another reliever in the eighth.
The defense of Yost is that if the Royals were to rally -- remember, it was 2-0 at the time -- and he used Herrera for two innings, his bullpen is deeper if the game goes to extra innings, and the Royals are more likely to score two runs off Bumgarner than three.
Of course, on this night, even two runs were unlikely. Belt's bunt, Crawford's RBIs, Juan Perez's put-the-game-away double -- all big -- but it was Bumgarner's night.