Madison Bumgarner held the Mets scoreless Wednesday night long enough for the Giants to finally score, which gives us the following matchup in a National League Divisional Series: a team which can’t lose every other year versus a team which can’t win it all for at least every 108th.
As if Cubs fans weren’t paranoid enough.
Wednesday’s wild-card game might have been the most tedious scoreless playoff game ever, if only for the inevitability. Bumgarner has pitched 23 consecutive scoreless innings in elimination games, and it seemed as if he could have thrown them all on Wednesday, if necessary.
Noah Syndergaard was just as good, but part of postseason greatness is being there at the end and he wasn’t. He fanned 10 and threw 108 pitches in seven innings; Bumgarner fanned only six, but threw just 11 more pitches in two more innings.
The Mets had three singles, a soft double and one unintentional walk. Their 3-4 hitters went 0-for-8 and when Asdrubal Cabrera, who made the best contact, lined out to Bumgarner with Ty Kelly on second in the eighth, it seemed clear the Mets couldn’t score unless Ryan Fitzpatrick was on the other side throwing to them.
(It wouldn’t be a Mets’ playoff loss without one Terry Collins question. At 0-0 leading off the bottom of the eighth, he pinch-hit righty Eric Campbell for lefty James Loney against the left-handed Bumgarner. Campbell struck out looking, not surprising given his .173 average for the season. But if Campbell was a better option than Loney then, why didn’t he start? And if he wasn’t, why did he pinch-hit? Not that it mattered.)
Bumgarner’s last shutout was on July 10, a 14-strikeout one-hitter over the Diamondbacks which was the Giants’ 57th win of the season. It gave them a 57-33 record, one game and 31 percentage points better than the Cubs, who they meet next.
The Giants finished the season 30-42 (as the Cubs finished 50-28) because of a bad bullpen and a limited offense, and they still have both. But the Cubs have 108 years of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
The Giants have a bad bullpen? Their best bullpen is no bullpen and the Giants will start Johnny Cueto, who led the NL in complete games (5), twice and Bumgarner once in five games. The Giants don’t hit much? They have Conor Gillaspie, who’s hit 31 home runs in seven seasons, hitting one in his first postseason game. Is Gorkys Hernandez next?
In 2014 the Giants won the wild-card by a Bumgarner shutout and then beat the Nationals, who won eight more games in the regular season, in the divisional series (Bumgarner pitched Game 3, as he will vs. the Cubs, and lost it). Wednesday’s wild-card win seems to portend a similar result.
There’s one difference though: the 2016 Cubs are not only better than these Giants, they’re better than the 2014 Nats, too.