KANSAS CITY – Madison Bumgarner is an ace who throws like he feels the World Series is his personal domain. Pretty easy for him to win the mound battle against a pitcher nicknamed “Big Game” who couldn’t live up to the moniker.
Game One was no contest Tuesday night as Bumgarner thrived in the October spotlight by taking a shutout into the seventh inning as the Giants outclassed the Kansas City Royals, 7-1.
The Giants scored three runs in the first off Kansas City’s James Shields, the last two on Hunter Pence’s screaming home run to deep right-center, before Bumgarner ever got to the mound. And that was pretty much that as they disappointed a Kauffman Stadium crowd of 40,459 on hand for the first Fall Classic game here since 1985. The loss ended the Royals’ 11-game winning streak in postseason play that dated to the final three games of that ’85 series victory over St. Louis. Kansas City had been 8-0 in this October, the first team ever to start a posteason run with that many consecutive victories, but never built any of the momentum that had been a trademark of its wins this month.
Bumgarner extended a remarkable streak of scoreless innings from the start of a World Series career to 21∏ before giving up Salvador Perez’s home run to left field with two out in the seventh. By then, however, the Giants already had a 7-0 lead.
“He’s got a mindset that he’s going to come after you,” Pence said. “He’s got that hard-nosed pitcher mentality. He doesn’t let any of the magnificence that’s going on around him in the World Series” get in the way.
“This is the ultimate dream as a baseball player. There’s no bigger stage, but he’s just Madison Bumgarner. It’s the game of baseball that he’s worked for. That’s a mentality that’s not easy because there’s so much emotions attached to this game.”
Bumgarner threw eight shutout innings in Game Four at Texas in 2010, and followed that up with seven scoreless in Game Two against Detroit in 2012.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only longer streak from the start of his World Series career was the 28 innings put together by Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson. That included a trio of complete-game shutouts for the New York Giants against the Philadelphia Athletics in 1905.
“It’s just about going out, making pitches and executing,” Bumgarner said. “It’s tough not to pay attention to streaks when you have it going. I’m not out here to set records and keep streaks going, but you do know about it. A World Series game is not something you forget about, so you remember.”
Bumgarner got all the offense he would need in the first on Pablo Sandoval’s RBI double to right and Pence’s blast. Both came off Shields, who has a 7.10 ERA this postseason.
The series continues here tonight at 8 (Ch. 29), with San Francisco’s Jake Peavy pitching against Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura. The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, and their experience seemed to show against the Royals, who are just about entirely made up of Series neophytes.
Bumgarner doesn’t necessarily throw hard, with a fastball topping at 93 mph. But he uses guile and pinpoint control to baffle hitters. He retired 12 straight before the Perez home run, and threw 71 of his 106 pitches for strikes. The raucous, blue-clad crowd was no factor.
Said Bumgarner: “If you’re worried about how loud the crowd is, then you’re in the wrong place mentally and probably in the wrong business.”
The Royals managed just three hits off Bumgarner, who struck out five and walked one. Their best chance came as they tried to erase a 3-0 deficit in the third, when Omar Infante led off by reaching base on an error charged to San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford and Mike Moustakas followed with a double to the right-field corner to put runners at second and third with no outs. Bumgarner struck out Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki was called out on a third-strike check swing to put the Giants one out away from getting into the dugout.
“Bumgarner was dynamite,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “... We had an opportunity in the third and I was really impressed with the way he fed off our aggressivenss and just worked up the ladder to get out of that jam. He was nails tonight.”