Baseball

Bochy decides right again; Bumgarner on hill next

Giants’ Madison Bumgarner pitches in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game 1 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014.
Giants’ Madison Bumgarner pitches in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during Game 1 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

As he’s done in every postseason since 2010, Giants manager Bruce Bochy continues to make all the right moves.

Even when he doesn’t make one at all.

Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti had on Friday mulled starting left-handed ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 on Saturday if the Giants lost Game 3 and fell behind the Royals 2-1 in the best-of-seven World Series.

But after the 3-2 loss, Bochy announced there would be no change to the rotation and that Ryan Vogelsong would start Game 4 on Saturday as scheduled, followed by Bumgarner today.

Vogelsong lasted just 22/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, but the Giants’ offense finally came alive and the bullpen finally held its ground for an 11-4 victory over Kanss City to tie the series 2-2.

And instead of starting on short rest, Bumgarner will start today in a rematch of Game 1 against Royals ace James Shields, who has struggled this postseason.

Today’s winner will head back to Kansas City one victory shy of winning the World Series – either the Giants’ third in five seasons or the Royals first in 29.

“It was a big win for us,” said catcher Buster Posey. “We know we have our guy going (today).”

If Bumgarner should win, he will become the first pitcher in modern-day history to win four World Series starts before the age of 26.

On Saturday, Bumgarner denied a Twitter report posted by a national writer that said he told his teammates he would start Game 4 instead of Vogelsong.

“I never said anything like that,” Bumgarner said. “Obviously, I’d be available if they wanted to go in that direction, which is not my call. But when it comes to this time of year, you’ve got to be ready any time you’re called upon.

“I don’t know if that quote’s a good attribute. It sounds like I’m trying to run the team, which I am certainly not.”

Bochy said his confidence in Vogelsong in big games and the fact Bumgarner has pitched 256 innings in the regular season and postseason was a big factor.

“At this point (in the season), I don’t think we should push Madison,” he said.

Bumgarner, who said he’s feeling as good as he has all season, said, “I’m always available (to pitch).”

In Game 1, Bumgarner shut down the Royals’ offense and gave Kansas City its first postseason loss after eight victories to win the American League pennant and sweep into its first World Series since 1985.

He pitched seven innings, giving up just three hits before allowing his first run – a solo home run to Salvador Perez – in 22 innings pitched in three World Series starts.

Meanwhile, Shields failed to live up to his nickname “Big Game James.” He gave up five earned runs in four innings and the Kauffman Stadium crowd of 40,459 was reduced to being mere spectators.

Shields has looked nothing like the Royals’ ace this postseason despite the Royals’ success.

In four postseason starts, Shields has a 1-1 record with a 7.11 ERA. His longest outing was six innings in an 8-3 win over the Angels in the American League Division Series. He twice lasted five innings and then three in Game 1 against the Giants.

“Obviously, the last couple of starts is not the way I wanted to end up,” Shields said. “But sometimes those things happen, and unfortunately it’s right now.”

“I’ve seen him pitch for 65 starts or so,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “I know what type of pitcher he is, one. And I’ve got confidence in everybody on my staff ... . I know (today) when he steps on that mound, he’s going to be ready both physically and mentally to compete and give us his best effort, and that’s all I can ask.”

Call The Bee’s Victor Contreras, (916) 326-5527. Follow him on Twitter @sacbeevictor

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments