Game 4 of the World Series pitted Giants’ rookie stud Madison Bumgarner against the Rangers’ Tommy Hunter. Bumgarner’s been fantastic for the Giants this year, and the big lefty should be a lock for the starting rotation next year. Tommy Hunter hasn’t been quite as good for Texas (4.99 FIP), and some (including myself) believed Derek Holland should have gotten the start. However, Ron Washington decided that Hunter gave him the best chance to win, and gave him the game ball to begin this contest.
The Giants would threaten early. Andres Torres led off with a single and stole second to put a man in scoring position with no outs. However, after 3 straight groundouts, Torres was eventually stranded at third. The Rangers would also put their leadoff man on, as Elvis Andrus walked, but after a fielder’s choice the Rangers’ opportunity was erased by a great double play set up by the glovework of Freddy Sanchez. It was only the first of several spectacular defensive plays made by Sanchez last night.
The Giants would put runners on first and third in the second, but failed to capitalize. However, they did break out to a lead in the third. Hunter allowed a leadoff double to Andres Torres, and after a Freddy Sanchez groundout, Aubrey Huff bombed a shot to right-center to put the Giants up 2-0. The next few innings would be uneventful, but you really should take a look (if you haven’t already) at the throw Buster Posey made to nail Josh Hamilton trying to steal second to end the fourth frame. One of the best throws I’ve ever seen a catcher make, and he’s a rookie in the World Series.
Hunter wouldn’t get past the fourth, as Alexi Ogando came in to start the 5th and produced Texas’ first 1-2-3 inning of the game. Ogando was well on his way to a perfect 6th as well, with two down and one strike on Juan Uribe before he threw the second pitch of the at-bat well outside. Ogando immediately walked off the mound, leaving with a left oblique strain without throwing another pitch. Darren Oliver came in and finished the at-bat for another perfect inning.
The Giants would get a run off of Oliver in the following inning. After Edgar Renteria’s one-out single, Nate Schierholtz struck out looking. Andres Torres came up, and Bruce Bochy put the hit-and-run on in a one-strike count. Torres delivered with a one-hopper off the top of the right-centerfield wall to score Renteria, and the Giants were up 3-0.
Oliver would start the top of the 8th, but was relieved by Darren O’Day after inducing an Aubrey Huff groundout to start the inning. Buster Posey followed by hitting a fly ball that Josh Hamilton started to move to his right to make a play on. The ball started to carry and Hamilton went back… and back… and back… before watching the ball travel over his head and over the wall in dead center for a solo shot to make this a 4-0.
Bumgarner shut down the Rangers in the 8th in what would be his last inning. The rookie absolutely flabbergasted the strong Texas lineup, and many Giants fans (myself included) would have liked to see him go for the complete-game shutout. However, Bruce Bochy decided to play it safe and bring in all-world closer and all-universe whackjob Brian Wilson to close it out in a non-save situation. Wilson avoided the torture that has become so familiar among Giants fans by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two including Josh Hamilton to end the game.
Let’s take a closer look.
Giants vs. Rangers
WPA Leader: Madison Bumgarner (.472 WPA)
Bumgarner was lights-out last night. He became the youngest rookie ever to pitch a 6 inning or longer shutout in the World Series, and the fourth youngest pitcher ever to win a game in the Fall Classic. Bumgarner went 8 innings and gave up only three hits and two walks while striking out six. As with Matt Cain’s start in game 2, if the baseball world didn’t know about Madison Bumgarner before, it sure as hell does now.
Aubrey Huff’s two-run smash to open the scoring against the team he grew up rooting for, less than 65 miles from his hometown of Mineral Wells, trumped all other plays in this contest, with a .165 WPA. Watching him run the bases is one of the more enjoyable experiences I’ve had as a baseball fan. In his 10-year career, Huff had never been involved in a playoff race until this season. Now, after pretty much every team gave up on him last offseason (remember, he wasn’t even the Giants’ first choice… they lost out on Adam LaRoche), he’s been a top-10 hitter in the NL this year and is OPSing 1.152 in the World Series against the team he spent his childhood cheering on. It doesn’t get much better than that. The unbridled joy on Huff’s face makes it easy to see why San Franciscans go so crazy for this team, after showing somewhat weak support for 2002’s World Series club. The personality of this Giants club is simply infectious. When you really boil it down, baseball is a game, and players are supposed to be having fun playing it. The Giants do as good a job as any team I’ve ever laid eyes on of reminding us of that fact. Also big were Andres Torres’ double to right-center in the 7th to score Renteria and Torres’ leadoff double in the third that bounced off the bag and over Mitch Moreland’s head.
Freddy Sanchez’s 0 for 4 makes him the worst player in this one according to WPA (-.118), but I think we can give him a reprieve for flashing the leather in spectacular fashion on several occasions last night. Rangers DH Vladimir Guerrero went 0 for 3 with a hat trick, as Bumgarner struck him out three times. Considering the fact that he doesn’t add any value on defense as a DH, he has to be the goat for this one.
Three months ago, Madison Bumgarner couldn’t legally drink champagne. Tonight, he’ll hope to celebrate in it as the Giants and Tim Lincecum will look to end this series against Rangers’ ace Cliff Lee. It should be a great game, so tune in and check back here tomorrow for a full write-up.