Until Sunday, the most recent complete-game shutout in the World Series belonged to Josh Beckett, who led the Marlins past the Yankees in Game 6 in 2003. Less than one month after announcing his retirement, Beckett has passed that torch. Its new owner is Madison Bumgarner, who four-hit the Royals in a 5-0 Game 5 win.
Here are five things you didn’t know about the game.
1. When Bumgarner took the hill, he became the third starter in major-league history to log six starts in a single postseason. When he left it to receive a hug from catcher Buster Posey, he became the third starter in major-league history to strike out eight without walking a batter in a playoff shutout.
Curt Schilling (2001) and Chris Carpenter (2011) previously made up the former club. Josh Beckett (2007 ALDS) and Cole Hamels (2010 NLDS) comprised the latter. With his 117-pitch gem last night, the 25-year-old Bumgarner became the first to earn membership cards to both.
2. While Bumgarner outclassed and overshadowed his counterpart, James Shields pitched well. The right-hander carried a 7.11 postseason ERA into Game 5, but he scattered eight hits over six innings of two-run ball, an outing much more befitting of his nickname, “Big Game James.”
The Royals’ vaunted late-inning relief corps was actually responsible for more of the Giants’ damage than their starter. Manager Ned Yost opted to use Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis in a futile bid to keep the game within striking distance as Bumgarner chased history. Both threw 24 pitches, 16 of them for strikes, and neither escaped unscathed.
Herrera was fine in the seventh inning, when he coaxed a double-play ball from Buster Posey to erase a walk drawn by Joe Panik, but he gave up two singles after Yost curiously left him in for the eighth. The skipper called for Davis to come to the rescue, and the right-hander’s night began with a strikeout of Brandon Belt.
Up next was the light-hitting Juan Perez, playing with a heavy heart. Perez heard earlier in the game about the passing of 22-year-old Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic. He entered as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning, replaced Travis Ishikawa in left field, and then, batting for the first time in the eighth, came as close as anyone has this year to taking Davis deep.
Davis remains homer-free through 91 2/3 total innings this year, but he allowed both of Herrera’s runners to score, and then was charged with an unearned tally on a single by Brandon Crawford. The double was Perez’s first extra-base hit since September 13.
3. All five of the Giants runs on Sunday were driven in by players who’d collected just one total RBI in the first four games of the series. Crawford picked up his first three — on a ground out in the second, and singles in the fourth and eighth — and Perez grabbed two on the aforementioned two-bagger to go with his sacrifice fly in Game 4.
On a night when leadoff man Gregor Blanco went 0-for-5 and the middle of the order notched nothing but singles against Shields and the Royals’ relievers, down-order production accounted for the bulk of Bumgarner’s support. The left-hander didn’t need much on Sunday, but the Giants’ lineup will be much tougher for Yordano Ventura to contend with in Game 6 if Ishikawa (2-for-3) and Crawford stay hot.
4. The 6-7-8 hitters in the Royals order, meanwhile, went 1-for-8 with four strikeouts, including Billy Butler’s pinch-hit appearance in the eighth. They shouldn’t feel too bad, because the top of the order, Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon, was hitless in eight at-bats.
Bumgarner adhered to the pitching adage “get ahead and stay ahead” regardless of the hitter in the box. Twenty-five of 31 Royals batters saw first-pitch strikes and only two saw three balls without filling the count. Bumgarner’s opponents are in big trouble when they fall behind, as they hit just .207/.239/.332 this year after 0-1 counts. For comparison, Zack Cozart, the league’s worst qualifying regular by OPS in 2014, finished at .221/.268/.300 overall.
5. San Francisco’s ace has gobbled up at least seven innings in every start this postseason, and Sunday’s masterpiece was his second four-hit shutout of the month. At 47 2/3 total frames, Bumgarner sits two outs shy of Schilling’s 2001 record of 48 1/3 playoff innings in a single year.
Toeing the rubber again this October would give Bumgarner a chance to match Schilling. But it would also mean taking the mound just two full days removed from a 117-pitch output and put the lefty’s all-time-best (min. 25 innings) 0.29 career World Series ERA on the line.
Asked after the game if he’d be ready to go in relief in an all-hands-on-deck Game 7, Bumgarner replied, You know it.”
Daniel Rathman is a writer and editor for Baseball Prospectus. He has previously been a new media intern for New England Sports Network and served as editor-in-chief of The Tufts Daily during the spring of 2012. Daniel is also a second-year urban planning student at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and a research assistant at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.