Bumgarner's shutout, Crawford's slam power Giants past Pirates in 8-0 Wild Card Game
You may recall the 2013 NL Wild Card Game as the time when PNC Park's fans made their postseason presence known to Reds starter Johnny Cueto in a 6-2 Pirates victory. Pittsburgh entered Wednesday's 2014 edition hoping for a repeat. The Giants, who sat out last year's postseason, had eyes on a first step toward continuing their every-other-year World Series celebration streak.
The Bucs opted to use staff ace Gerrit Cole in a Game 162 matchup with the Reds, hoping a win in that contest might help them steal the NL Central title from the Cardinals. That didn't pan out, meaning Pittsburgh would send the unpredicable-but-usually-effective Edinson Volquez into battle against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner -- a one-game duel with win-or-go-home stakes.
The first third of the game was a classic postseason pitchers' duel, with Bumgarner allowing just one hit with four strikeouts through three innings. Volquez was his unpredictable self, but when he got his first punchout in the second inning, the PNC Park crowd showed their support:
He did manage to keep it scoreless until the fourth inning, but when he finally wavered, San Francisco was ready to pounce.
Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence each singled to start the fourth frame, and first baseman Brandon Belt followed them up with a walk. That brought shortstop Brandon Crawford to the plate with the bases loaded. Volquez left an 82 mph knuckle-curve where Crawford could reach it and, well …
You can hear a pin drop at PNC Park. Volquez served up a grand slam. His 21 inning scoreless streak is no more.- Pirates Gameday (@PITGameday) October 2, 2014
Just like that, the Giants had a 4-0 lead and Crawford had the first grand slam by a shortstop in postseason history. Still, the Pirate Parrot didn't seem too worried:
Volquez settled back in for the fifth inning, sitting Joe Panik, Posey and Sandoval down 1-2-3. But the Pirates starter would depart after a leadoff walk to Pence in the sixth. Pence would eventually score, widening the Giants' lead to 5-0.
Bumgarner, on the other hand, kept rolling all night. After giving up a single to Russell Martin in the second inning, he didn't allow another hit until Josh Harrison reached on a bloop single in the sixth. In fact, the only other Pirates player to reach base in that span was Andrew McCutchen, who drew a walk in the fourth.
The plate just wasn't a fun place to be if you were a Pirate:
The Giants tacked on two more runs in the seventh and one more in the eighth. Bumgarner hardly needed the extra offense to ensure the Pirates would take the NL Wild Card Game in a comfortable fashion -- final score: 8-0 Giants.
The Game Changer
Crawford's grand slam was big, but Bumgarner's outing was ace-level stuff. He racked up 10 strikeouts in a shutout, never giving the Pirates an opening to do any damage. PNC Park seemingly got in Cueto's head in 2013, but MadBum barely flinched in the 2014 edition of the NL Wild Card Game:
Other Key Players, Plays
In the bottom of the second, Pence and Panik nearly collided while trying to field a Gaby Sanchez popout. Thankfully, disaster was narrowly averted as Panik came up with the play:
Not only was Crawford's fourth-inning grand slam an incredibly thrilling play, but the fan who caught it made his own personal highlight reel as well:
Sandoval is widely known for his free-swinging ways, but clearly he's also been working on some other athletic maneuvers, as evidenced by this seventh-inning foul catch:
For the Pirates, mostly just golf, skiing and deciding what to do with free-agent catcher Martin.
As for the Giants, they'll head to Washington D.C. to face off with the red-hot Nationals and their dominant pitching staff in the NLDS. Game 1 gets underway on Friday on Fox Sports 1.