With every pitch, Madison Bumgarner etched his place among the World Series greats.
San Francisco Giants ace Bumgarner stole the show in Game 5 of the World Series, throwing a complete-game, 5-0 shutout against the Kansas City Royals Sunday night.
Hardly menacing on the mound, Bumgarner was simply untouchable--again. As "MVP! MVP!'' chants broke out from each packed corner of AT&T Park, Bumgarner finished off the first World Series shutout in 11 years.
"You know what? For some reason, I keep getting really lucky this time of year, so I'll take it,'' Bumgarner said.
It must be more than luck.
Because by the time the 25-year-old from Hickory, North Carolina, outdid his own winning performance in Game 1, he had evoked memories of Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Curt Schilling and the top October aces of all-time.
"Very humbling,'' Bumgarner said.
He certainly joined those names, and maybe even exceeded them.
Who else has gone 4-0 in four World Series starts with an 0.29 ERA? Throw in only 12 hits in 31 innings, along with 27 strikeouts, and that math makes him the very definition of Big Game Pitcher.
"He's special, isn't he?'' manager Bruce Bochy said during a quiet moment in his office eating dinner. ``What a stud.''
Giants Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal mingled in the clubhouse, too, waiting his turn to congratulate the guy with the curly, stringy hair.
"He's so smooth. I say that he's cold-blooded. When he's on the mound, he dominates everybody. Everybody,'' Marichal said.
There hadn't been a shutout in the Series since Josh Beckett's clinching gem for the Florida Marlins in 2003 at Yankee Stadium.
The scoring started in the second inning when Hunter Pence once again was in the middle of things for the Giants. He singled off James Shields and scored on a groundout by Brandon Crawford, who had three RBIs.
As it turned out, that is all the Giants would need as Bumgarner went the distance, allowing just four hits and amassing eight strikeouts while walking none.
Later, the enigmatic Pence accidentally threw his bat past the mound while striking out, and appeared to apologize to Shields. Pence added another hit in a three-run eighth, making him 9 for 19 in the five games.
Postseason star Pablo Sandoval also singled twice.
Juan Perez blew the game open in the eighth inning with a two-run double off Royals reliever Wade Davis. That made the score 4-0 at the time, before Brandon Crawford followed with an RBI-single.
Since trailing 4-1 in Game 4, the Giants have responded with 15 straight runs. San Francisco won that game, putting aside concern that Bumgarner should've been moved up to pitch on short rest.
Bumgarner won for the fourth time against one loss in this postseason, and this blanking bookended the four-hit shutout he threw at Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game. Durable, he's thrown 47 2-3 innings this October, trailing just Schilling's 48 1-3 in 2001 for the most in a single postseason, with a 1.13 ERA.
As Bumgarner wrapped up the win, his name echoed around the ballpark.
"That was pretty cool, actually. It was really neat to hear,'' he said.
Toward the late innings, it appeared that only a lightning strike could rescue the Royals, perhaps a home run out of nowhere. Not happening, this was the third straight game without either team hitting a homer, the longest streak in the World Series since 1948 when the Boston Braves and Cleveland began with a three-game drought, STATS said.
Exactly why the man nicknamed MadBum is so dominant isn't easily apparent. Royals cleanup hitter Eric Hosmer said before the game that Bumgarner's "cross-body'' delivery is tough to pick up.
The 6-foot-5 Bumgarner definitely has an impressive whip, along with an imposing WHIP in the World Series. His walks-plus-hits ratio per inning is incredible.
About the only thing Bumgarner didn't do well was get a hit. He takes pride in his plate prowess and launched four home runs this season, including two grand slams. Bumgarner went 0 for 4, leaving him hitless in 22 postseason at-bats.
Yep, he's still got some work to do.
And the Giants' work isn't done. To add to the crowns Bumgarner helped them take in 2010 and 2012, they'll need to win in Kansas City.
"We're looking forward to getting back to our home crowd, where it's going to be absolutely wild and crazy,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Jake Peavy gets the first chance to seal it for San Francisco when he starts Game 6 at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night against rookie Yordano Ventura.
If the Giants don't win then, there is always this possibility: Bumgarner said he's ready to come out of the bullpen in Game 7.
Royals: Ventura will become the fourth rookie to start twice in a Series since 2000, joining John Lackey, Justin Verlander and Michael Wacha.
Giants: Peavy started in the World Series last year for the champion Boston Red Sox. He took the loss last week in Game 2, and is 1-4 with a 7.05 ERA in eight career postseason starts.
Of the 41 previous instances the World Series was tied at 2 in the best-of-seven format, the Game 5 winner won the title 27 times. ... Bumgarner's ERA is the lowest in World Series history for pitchers with at least 25 innings. Jack Billingham is next at 0.36. Among the leaders are Babe Ruth (0.87) and Mariano Rivera (0.99). ... Since 1982, teams down 3-2 going home for Games 6 and 7 have won eight of 10 World Series, including the Royals in 1985.
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