ARLINGTON, Texas – The Giants trotted out a rookie starting pitcher and rookie catcher who began the year in the minor leagues — the first all-rookie battery since 1947 — and received an appropriately historic performance.
Left handed starter Madison Bumgarner delivered eight shutout innings and allowed only three hits, only the fifth time since 1995 that a pitcher has gone at least eight innings while allowing no more than three hits in a World Series game.
Catcher Buster Posey added a solo homer for the last of San Francisco’s four runs — after first baseman Aubrey Huff delivered the big blow with a two-run blast in the third — as the Giants defeated the Rangers 4-0 on Sunday night to extend their World Series lead to 3-1, pushing within a game of their first title since moving west in 1958.
“Obviously I started off rough this year,” Bumgarner said, “and wasn’t — I mean, I didn’t expect this in my wildest dreams, but I’m definitely glad to be here and blessed to have this opportunity.”
Bumgarner and Posey are the first all-rookie battery to start a World Series game since the Yankees’ Spec Shea and Yogi Berra in Games 1, 5 and 7 in 1947, though Shea turned 27 years old during that series.
At 21 years, 91 days old, Bumgarner is the fifth youngest pitcher to start a World Series and the second youngest with eight shutout innings.
“That kid, I can’t say enough about what he did tonight,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I mean, 21-year-old kid on that stage pitching like that. He had it all working.”
No Rangers batter reached third base and only one reached second, as Bumgarner made it look easy. Including the postseason, he is now 8-3 with a 1.76 ERA in road games.
With a slingshot delivery in which he throws across his body, Bumgarner pounded the strike zone with 21 first-pitch strikes to 27 hitters, many of them with inside fastballs to righty bats, often a no-no to a lineup of power hitters like the Rangers’ Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Jeff Francoeur and Ian Kinsler.
“Just kept telling myself to relax,” he said. “And I’ve told myself so much that it’s starting to become second nature, and it makes it a lot easier on me and the players, I think, to see somebody that’s relaxed out there throwing.”
Bumgarner gained early run support when Huff, a graduate of Brewer High School in nearby Fort Worth, crushed a first-pitch cutter that Rangers starter Tommy Hunter left down the middle of the plate, sending the ball some 400 feet down the right field line.
Nine of the 10 runs scored in the two games in Texas have come via home run. The Giants’ third run tonight came on a run-scoring double in the seventh from Andres Torres, one of his three hits in the game. Shortstop Edgar Renteria also had three hits.
The Rangers mustered only three singles and two walks but were victimized by two apparently missed calls at first base — one on what would have been an inning-ending double play for Texas that cost Hunter an extra 11 pitches, and another on what was ruled a double play off the bat of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.
“It could have kept an inning going,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “You never know what would have happened after that, but that’s the human nature of calling a ballgame. I thought he missed both of them, but there wasn’t much you can do about it.
Hunter struggled with his command and his pitches weren’t good enough to fool the Giants hitters. On only two of his 83 pitches did a Giant swing and miss — both times it was No. 9 hitter Nate Schierholtz — and even when hitters were off balance, they still made contact, fouling off 22 pitches. Hunter pitched only four innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks.
Alexi Ogando was the first Ranger reliever to enter the game, pitching 1 2/3 perfect innings before exiting with a left oblique strain. Washington said afterward Ogando would likely be replaced on the World Series roster.
Monday night’s Game 5 could now be an elimination game and features a rematch of Game 1’s bout between Cy Young winners, Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Cliff Lee of the Rangers.