The San Francisco Giants displayed their greater playoffs knowhow in beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0 in Wednesday’s National League (NL) wild-card game.
Madison Bumgarner pitched a shutout with 10 strikeouts and Brandon Crawford hit the first grand slam by a shortstop in postseason history.
“That’s crazy,” Crawford said. “With all the great shortstops that have played before, that’s pretty special. I’m happy to be able to do it.”
Having silenced a black-clad crowd hoping for another Pittsburgh playoff run, San Francisco visit Washington in the best-of-five NL Division Series beginning today.
Crawford’s four-run shot in the fourth inning off Edinson Volquez put the Giants ahead.
Bumgarner did the rest as San Francisco won their eighth consecutive post-season game and seventh in a row when facing elimination.
Overpowering one of the NL’s best lineups, Bumgarner walked only one batter and threw 79 of 109 pitches for strikes in his latest stellar post-season performance.
“It’s fun,” Bumgarner said. “If you’re not playing, you can be excited and nervous and all that. But if you’re pitching in the game you’ve got to try to push that all aside and try to make pitches like we did tonight.”
Volquez was trying to cap his remarkable comeback season by sending Pittsburgh to the National League Division Series for the second straight year, but he could not match Bumgarner.
He cruised until the fourth inning, when a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Crawford followed with a drive that kept carrying all the way to the seats above the 21-foot-high right-field wall, silencing the largest crowd in the 13-year history of PNC Park.
Back in the playoffs after winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012, the Giants are looking to continue their success in even-numbered years.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, were unable to duplicate last year’s victory over Cincinnati in the wild-card game that followed a 21-year playoff drought.
Playing before raucous crowds at PNC Park, the Pirates pushed St Louis to a decisive Game 5 before losing last year’s National League Division Series.
This year, Pittsburgh went 17-9 last month while taking the Cardinals to the final day of the season in an attempt to win the NL Central.
The chase included a decision to start Gerrit Cole in the regular-season finale in the hopes of catching the Cardinals and avoiding the wildcard game. Cole struck out 12 in a brilliant performance, but the Pirates lost, and that meant Cole was unavailable for yesterday’s game.
Instead the responsibility fell to Volquez and he could not get it done.
Shortstop had been the only position — including pitcher — to never hit a slam in post-season play.
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