Mike Krukow's foolproof formula for how a pitcher wins: pitch a shutout, hit a home run. Madison Bumgarner did the first. Conor Gillaspe did the second--with two men on in the ninth inning. SF Giants won their wild card game, defeating the Mets 3-0.
The Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard was, the Giants said, virtually unhittable. Brandon Belt got into one in the 6th, and only a great running catch by Granderson in center kept the game scoreless.
But the Giants kept after Syndergaard all game, extending their at-bats, until a high pitch count ended his night after seven innings.
The Giants had their best chance in the eighth. They faced Reed in the eighth and loaded the bases. But they didn't score. They then got the Mets closer Familia in the 9th.
Brandon Crawford led off with a double. Pagan couldn't advance him and struck out. Then Joe Panik came to bat, in what the Mets' manager described as the key at-bat of the game. If they got Panik out, they would walk the next batter--Gillaspe--to get to the pitcher's spot, and get Bumgarner out of the game. And it might have worked, because Jarrett Parker was on deck behind Gillaspe.
But fouling off good pitches, Panik worked a walk. Familia had to pitch to Gillaspe, who has been on a streak at the end of the season, when he's been playing more. The infield was set up for a double play. But Gillaspe hit it a little farther--into the Mets' bullpen. It was only the second homer Familia had given up all season.
The scoreless tie was broken, the Giants were ahead 3-0. And Parker was called back to the dugout.
Bumgarner had used high fast balls all game to get Mets swinging, and he got three fly balls in the 9th off high fast balls. It was his second complete game shutout in a wild card game. In Pittsburgh in 2014 he pitched much of the game with a lead. This one was a little different.
Johnny Cueto gets the ball on Friday for the first of a five game series with the Chicago Cubs, owners of the best record in baseball and consensus favorite to win it all. This is when lining up those killer starters can pay off. Especially when they throw complete games.