The San Francisco Giants beat the New York Mets 3-0 in the 2016 NL Wild Card Game. The Giants now advance to the National League Division Series. They will take on the Chicago Cubs, who won over 100 regular season games for the first time since 1910.
Bumgarner Dominates in NL Wild Card Game Win
The Starters Were Lights Out
Both Syndergaard and Bumgarner appeared unhittable to start the game. Syndergaard was literally unhittable at first, as he pitched a no hitter through five and two thirds innings. There was little action for the Giants until the sixth inning, when Span got the first hit for the San Francisco with two outs. Span stole second before Brandon Belt lifted a ball deep to center that Curtis Granderson caught at the wall. Syndergaard finished his night with seven scoreless innings, giving up two hits, three walks, and striking out 10.
Bumgarner matched zeros with Syndergaard through the first seven innings. He cruised through the first three innings, facing the minimum and throwing only 21 pitches. Bumgarner was taxed a little bit more in the fourth, but still ended the inning without giving up a run. He began the fifth inning immediately in trouble, as he gave up a leadoff double to T.J. Rivera. He was able to get out of the inning by striking out Syndergaard with two on.
Bumgarner Outlasted Syndergaard
The big difference in the game was Bumgarner’s ability to last longer than Syndergaard. His lower pitch count allowed him to pitch both the eighth and ninth innings. The Mets clearly missed Syndergaard in these innings, as Addison Reed barely got out of a bases loaded jam and Jeurys Familia gave up a three-run homer to Conor Gillaspie.
The Journey Continues for the Giants
Since the implementation of the one-game Wild Card playoff in 2012, there have been some memorable moments. In 2012, the St. Louis Cardinals benefited from a botched infield fly rule en route to a victory against the Atlanta Braves. In 2014, the Kansas City Royals tied the game after trailing 7-3 in the seventh inning and walked it off in the bottom of the 12th. Last night, the Toronto Blue Jays walked things off with an 11th inning three-run blast by Edwin Encarnacion.
These Wild Card games have a history of being interesting and this game was not a disappointment. Now the Giants have to face the toughest team in baseball. The Cubs have three Cy Young-worthy pitchers in their rotation. They have a lethal offense that scored 808 runs, good for second most in the National League. They also have the longest World Series drought in baseball, which they are itching to end.
The Giants had been in freefall in the second half of the season. They went into the All-Star break 57-33, which was the best record in baseball. They were 12 games under .500 after the All-Star break, with a 30-42 record. Part of that was because of an atrocious closer situation. It got better toward the end of the season, as Sergio Romo slotted back in the closer role with Derek Law and Will Smith behind him. The first save Romo got in September marked the first time he had closed out a game since July 27, 2015. The Giants have to hope he can keep things up; otherwise Bumgarner’s clutch postseason pitching will be for naught. Their journey continues on Friday in Game 1 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field.