Very seldom does a postseason pitching matchup between aces live up to the hype as well as the one between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner did on Wednesday night in the National League Wild Card Game. The pair traded punches inning after inning at Citi Field before the Giants finally
Very seldom does a postseason pitching matchup between aces live up to the hype as well as the one between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner did on Wednesday night in the National League Wild Card Game. The pair traded punches inning after inning at Citi Field before the Giants finally prevailed, 3-0, on a clutch three-run homer in the ninth inning by Conor Gillaspie.
The game solidified reputations for both starting pitchers -- Bumgarner in his continuing quest to become perhaps the greatest postseason pitcher of all time, and Syndergaard as one of the premier aces in the game today. Before the Giants head to Chicago to face the Cubs in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Friday night, live on FS1 at 9 ET/6 PT, here are a few things you should know about Wednesday's instant classic:
:: NL Wild Card: Giants vs. Mets coverage ::
• Wednesday's duel was only the second winner-take-all game in the postseason to go scoreless through the first eight innings, joining the legendary duel between the Braves' John Smoltz and the Twins' Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. That game, won by Minnesota in the 10th, went scoreless through the first nine innings.
• The NL Wild Card Game was just the seventh postseason game in which both starting pitchers finished with at least seven scoreless innings, and the first since Game 2 of the 2013 American League Division Series between the Tigers (Justin Verlander) and A's (Sonny Gray). The only other such matchup in a winner-take-all game was the Smoltz-Morris duel in the 1991 Fall Classic.
• Bumgarner has pitched in two NL Wild Card Games, and he has thrown shutouts in both. He also threw a four-hitter against the Pirates in the 2014 NL Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh.
• Bumgarner pitched his third career postseason shutout on Wednesday, tying him for second all time with Mordecai Brown, Whitey Ford and Josh Beckett. Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson holds the record with four.
It was also Bumgarner's sixth postseason start in which he did not allow a run, joining Hall of Famer Tom Glavine as the only pitcher with that many scoreless postseason outings.
And talk about clutch: The Giants' ace is the only pitcher to have thrown multiple shutouts in winner-take-all postseason games.
• Bumgarner's postseason scoreless streak sits at 23 innings, within sight of Mariano Rivera's postseason-record 33 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
• With an unpredictable mix of fastballs, cutters, sliders and slow curves, Bumgarner kept the Mets off balance all night. New York only put three balls in play with an exit velocity of 100 mph or faster, according to Statcast™.
• Bumgarner fended off the Mets' few scoring chances, extending an amazing personal streak in the process. He has still not allowed an opponent to get a hit with runners in scoring position against him when pitching on the road in the postseason; opponents are a staggering 0-for-24.
• Bumgarner's mastery of the Mets was nothing new: In seven career starts against New York, the Giants southpaw is 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 16 walks.
• Syndergaard became only the second pitcher in postseason history to not earn a win after tossing seven or more scoreless innings, allowing two or fewer hits and striking out at least 10 batters. Mike Mussina was the other, taking a no-decision in the Orioles' heartbreaking 1-0 defeat in Game 6 of the 1997 AL Championship Series.
• Wednesday's game began with a dizzying, efficient pace. Bumgarner required only 21 pitches to complete the first three innings. No pitcher had gone through the first three frames on 21 or fewer pitches during the entire regular season. In fact, it was the fewest pitches Bumgarner has needed through the first three innings of any game in his eight-year career.
• Before Syndergaard and catcher René Rivera caught Denard Span stealing second base in the fourth inning -- on a call that stood on replay -- opponents were 48-for-57 (84.2 percent) trying to steal off Syndergaard this year. Those 48 steals were the most against any pitcher since Hideo Nomo allowed 52 in 2001. Over his career, including the postseason, Syndergaard has allowed 66 steals in 76 attempts (86.8 percent).
Span redeemed himself by stealing second successfully after breaking up Syndergaard's no-hitter in the sixth.
• The Mets did not see ball three from Bumgarner until the bottom of the fourth, when José Reyes worked a seven pitch at-bat to begin the inning. Those seven pitches equaled the number of throws Bumgarner made in each of the game's first three innings.
• Before Bumgarner intentionally walked left-handed-hitting James Loney in the fifth inning, each of his 26 career intentional passes, including one in the postseason, had been to right-handed batters.
• With his strikeout of Bumgarner in the sixth -- his 10th strikeout of the night -- Syndergaard became the youngest pitcher in history (age 24) to record 10 or more strikeouts in a winner-take-all postseason game, according to ESPN. Syndergaard also became just the fourth Mets pitcher to record 10 or more strikeouts in a postseason game, joining Jacob deGrom (2015), Tom Seaver (twice in 1973) and Dwight Gooden ('88). Along with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Syndergaard are the only pitchers to record double-digit strikeouts against the Giants this year.
Only three pitchers have rung up at least 10 strikeouts in a Wild Card Game: the Cubs' Jake Arrieta (11 in 2015), Bumgarner (10 in '12) and Syndergaard on Wednesday night.
Syndergaard also joined an exclusive group of pitchers to throw at least 10 strikeouts against the Giants in the postseason. Only four others have done so: the Reds' Homer Bailey in Game 3 of the 2012 NLDS, the Senators' Walter Johnson in Game 1 of the 1924 World Series, the Red Sox's Smoky Joe Wood in Game 1 of the 1912 World Series and the A's Chief Bender in Game 1 of the 1911 World Series.
• Span's single up the middle brought an end to Syndergaard's no-hitter attempt in the sixth, but not before some history was made. Syndergaard became the first Mets pitcher to no-hit the opposition through the first five innings of a postseason game since Jerry Koosman in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series. His 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball were also the longest a starting pitcher has gone in a Wild Card Game since the contest was introduced in 2012.
• The Giants very nearly scored the first run of the game in the top of the sixth when Brandon Belt lined a Syndergaard pitch to deep center field with Span on second base. The ball left Belt's bat at 105.9 mph at a launch angle of 25 degrees, according to Statcast™. This season, similarly struck balls were home runs 91 percent of the time and hits 97.1 percent of the time. This ball stayed in the park, however, and Curtis Granderson made a sensational catch to end the inning -- and the scoring threat.
• The scoreless tie was finally broken on Gillaspie's homer off Mets closer Jeurys Familia. It was an unlikely blast, seeing that it was only the 32nd homer of Gillaspie's career, his seventh of the season and his first on the road since July 17. But it was even more unlikely when you consider it was just the seventh go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later in a winner-take-all postseason game.
Of course, after Edwin Encarnacion's titanic game-winning blast for Toronto in Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game, it was the second such homer in the past two days.
• Gillaspie's homer was also just the sixth blast in postseason history to break a scoreless tie in the ninth inning or later, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The last tiebreaking blast in a 0-0 postseason game was by the Astros' Jeff Kent in Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS against the Cardinals.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.