Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the opposing pitcher, recognizing brilliance for what it is. A complete game shutout. Eight strikeouts. Four hits allowed. Madison Bumgarner has owned the 2014 playoffs, and on Sunday night he owned the Kansas City Royals too. So what’s new? He’s now tossed sixteen innings against these Royals, striking out 13 and allowing just one earned run with a walk and seven hits.
Bumgarner joins some rather elite company with his shutout, and Jayson Stark over at ESPN lists a few that I won’t go into here. Also, David Schoenfield lists a few more that I won’t go into either. There’s no need to duplicate. Bumgarner started this postseason off with a four-hit shutout if you remember, way back on October 1st where he struck out ten Pirates in an 8-0 Giants win. Bumgarner’s 2014 postseason run, then, makes just the ninth time in Major League history where a pitcher has multiple complete game shutouts in the same postseason. The last time it happened was in 2003 when Josh Beckett struck out 20 in 18 innings against the Cubs and Yankees. Rather have a lefty for a comp? In 2001 Randy Johnson struck out 22 Braves and Yankees (11 each just to be fair).
In 1957 Lew Burdette pitched shutouts in the same World Series (as did Bill Dinneen in 1903, Whitey Ford in 1960, and Sandy Koufax in 1965) while Christy Mathewson tossed three shutouts against the Philadelphia A’s in 1905. Well, if you’re going to do something great, why not be amongst the game’s greats?
Not to be forgotten, Orel Hershiser had two in 1988 as well, but one of those was against the Mets, so we won’t talk about that.
If you think about the run he’s having this postseason, Bumgarner didn’t even have a month this great in 2014 and he won NL Pitcher of the month in both May and August. In October, with the added pressure, he’s thrown 47 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs for a 1.13 ERA. He’s allowed 26 hits and six walks, giving him a WHIP of 0.67, while striking out 41, making his K/BB ratio 6.83.
In August he threw 46 innings, striking out 56 with an ERA of 1.57 and a WHIP of 0.63 and a K/BB of 18.67, but that was against the likes of the Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Rockies. In August he also pitched against the Royals, losing 4-2 as he surrendered four runs, three earned, in an eight-inning complete game. He allowed just as many hits, seven, in that game to the Royals as he has in the 16 innings in the World Series. Maybe Bumgarner took it personally that it was the lone blemish on an otherwise perfect August as he went 4-1. If the Giants win one more game in Kansas City, add Series MVP to his amazing ’14 to sit alongside those Pitcher of the Month awards and his NLCS MVP.
From a personal level, can it get better for Bumgarner? Short of this series going to seven (and, honestly, how can it not? If this series is over in six, I’m going to feel sort of cheated. 2014 needs to end with ninth inning drama in Game 7) and Bumgarner coming out of the bullpen like Randy Johnson in 2001 I can’t imagine how.
Oh, I guess the Giants could win the Series. Why not be a 25-year old with three World Series titles? Not that he hasn’t been integral to all three of those. I mean, he’s allowed a whopping one run in 31 innings of work combined.