Everything is clicking for the San Francisco Giants at the World Series — hitting, fielding and especially the pitching.
On Sunday night, rookie Madison Bumgarner threw well beyond his years and sent a shudder clear through Rangers Ballpark.
One more win, like this gem, a 4-0 shutout of Texas in Game 4, and that elusive World Series title will be theirs to savour.
“We’ve got the team to do it,” Bumgarner said.
Have they ever.
Dressed in black-and-orange, the Giants were spooky good in taking a 3-1 edge. The 21-year-old Bumgarner allowed only three hits over eight innings and took all the fun out of a festive Halloween crowd.
Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey backed their young lefty with home runs and San Francisco put on a fielding clinic. Coming off their lone loss in the Series, these Giants delivered a complete game.
“Yesterday was a very helter-skelter situation,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. “You’re worried about families, worried about signing balls, worried about tickets, about travel. I’m not using that as an excuse, but today they were much more relaxed, much more confident.”
Ace Tim Lincecum will try Monday night to deliver the Giants’ first championship since they moved to San Francisco in 1958. And now it’s up to Cliff Lee to save the Rangers’ season in Game 5.
Only six teams in World Series history have overcome a 3-1 deficit, mostly recently Kansas City in 1985.
“With a win, I usually sleep pretty good in the playoffs, with a loss pretty shaky. Hopefully we sleep good tonight. We’ve got a big challenge tomorrow with Cliff Lee,” Huff said. “We got him last game, but you know he’s going to come out and really want to get us.”
Bumgarner and closer Brian Wilson made the Giants the first team to post two shutouts in a World Series since Baltimore threw three straight to close out the Dodgers in 1966.
“It’s certainly been pitching as advertised,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “They’ve got good stuff. They’ve got velocity. They can spin the baseball. They can change speeds and they keep their defence engaged.”
Huff, who grew up in the Metroplex, hit a two-run homer in the third that gave Bumgarner all the support he needed. Posey added a solo shot in the eighth — Bumgarner and Posey became the first rookie battery to start in the Series since Spec Shea and Yogi Berra for the Yankees in 1947.
“It’s hard to believe he’s only 21. He’s got it all and he has no fear of anyone,” Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz said.
Andres Torres doubled twice, singled and drove in a run and Edgar Renteria also got three hits.
The gloves helped out even more.
Left-fielder Cody Ross came up with a shoestring catch, second baseman Freddy Sanchez made a leaping grab and Posey threw out Josh Hamilton trying to steal. Bumgarner helped himself, too, knocking down Hamilton’s scorcher up the middle.
Coming off a 4-2 win Saturday night, the Rangers and their fans were ready to even this Series. Earlier in the day, about a quarter-mile away at Cowboys Stadium, Dallas dropped to 1-6 with a 35-17 loss to Jacksonsville. Two little boys held up signs inside that read: “Hurry Up Cowboys … I Have a Rangers Game to go to.”
The father-and-son team of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first ball in what Major League Baseball said was the first time two former U.S. presidents attended a World Series game.
The elder Bush’s wife, Barbara, even kept score from her front-row seat next to the Texas dugout. There wasn’t much to write down — not on the Texas side, anyway, because of Bumgarner.
“I can’t say enough about what he did,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bumgarner didn’t permit a runner past first base until the seventh. Facing his only jam, he retired Ian Kinsler on a fly ball to strand two runners and preserve a 3-0 lead.
Bumgarner struck out Vladimir Guerrero three times, the first time the star Texas designated hitter had done that this season. Twice, Guerrero took weak waves at strike three.
“I’m surprised, to be honest with you,” said Hamilton, who fanned for the final out. “Vladdy is a competitor. It looked like he was looking for a different pitch than what he got.”
The Giants’ fourth starter, Bumgarner went 7-6 in 18 starts this season. He began this game with a four-pitch walk to Elvis Andrus and ran into little trouble after that. He struck six, walked two and improved to 2-0 in three post-season starts.
“I try to tell myself all the time just to relax and take deep breaths, control the breathing. It helps me relax and stay calm and act like it’s not a big deal. Obviously it is, it’s the World Series. Just tried to go out there and relax, and it’s worked out,” he said.
Wilson closed with a hitless ninth.
The only other time this year Texas was shut out at home was in a 5-0 loss to Oakland on Aug. 28.
“I don’t think discouragement is the right word,” Texas third baseman Michael Young said. “Obviously, we know we’re capable of more.”
The Giants tweaked their lineup, benching strikeout machine Pat Burrell and making Huff the DH for the first time this season. Bochy put Schierholtz in right field and Travis Ishikawa at first base — fine fielders, not great hitters. That’s more the NL way, where spare bats rarely grow on the bench.
Washington came off his bench twice to discuss calls with first base umpire Jeff Kellogg. Both plays were bang-bang, and replays seemed to show both were misses that went against the Rangers.
Thwarted early, the Giants took a 2-0 lead in the third on Huff’s homer. Torres led off with a grounder that hit the first-base bag, kicked up and rolled into the corner for a double. Sanchez failed to advance him and was still shouting at himself down in the dugout tunnel when Huff hit a long drive to right.
Huff homered on the 62nd pitch overall from Hunter, who tossed strikes but couldn’t throw the ball past anyone. Alexi Ogando began warming up in the Texas bullpen in the third and replaced Hunter in the fifth.
Ogando set down five straight batters, then bounced a breaking ball to the sixth and immediately grabbed his left side. A trainer went to the mound, Ogando came out and Darren Oliver relieved.
“He’s through,” Washington said.
The Giants took an aggressive approach from the get-go. After Torres led off the game with an infield single, Bochy ordered up a bunt, hit-and-run and a steal — all with Sanchez at the plate.
Hamilton kept things scoreless in the Giants second. The all-star centre-fielder charged hard to make a diving, backhanded catch on a blooper by Schierholtz that stranded runners at the corners.