October baseball is here, and the chase for a fourth World Series title in seven seasons begins Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants.
After rebounding from a potentially historic second half collapse to clinch the final National League postseason spot in the regular-season finale Sunday, the Giants will be in the "Big Apple" Wednesday evening to take on the New York Mets in the National League Wild Card game.
In this win-or-go-home contest, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner (15-9) will toe the rubber against New York right-hander Noah Syndergaard (14-9). Both aces, arguably two of the best in the game, rank in the top four among National League pitchers in earned run average, but San Francisco's 6-foot, 5-inch workhorse has the edge in strikeouts and wins above replacement in 43 more innings of work.
During seven regular season meetings, the defending National League champion Mets edged the Giants with four wins, including a series victory at Citi Field back in the first half of the season. Bumgarner did outduel Syndergaard in a 6-1 Giants victory during that series in the only face-to-face meeting between the starters in 2016.
Both squads are riding their share of hot streaks heading into Wednesday's game. Although sitting at 60-62 back in mid-August, New York finished the season with 27 wins and just 13 losses, marking the best record in the big leagues during that time. San Francisco rebounded from a dismal second half to win its final four games, including a series sweep over the division champion Los Angeles Dodgers, to punch its ticket to the postseason.
First pitch in Wednesday's game is slated for 5 p.m., and San Francisco fans can catch the televised action on ESPN or listen to KNBR for the radio call.
The last time San Francisco found itself in the National League Wild Card game, Bumgarner blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0, giving up just four hits. The lefty finished out that postseason with a 1.03 earned run average and two complete game shutouts.
As Bay Area fans love to relish, those 2014 Giants, led by Bumgarner's pitching heroics, stormed their way to a third World Series title since the start of the new decade.
CSN Bay Area contributed to this report.