Here's what you need to know about Game One between the Giants and Cardinals: Marco Gonzales began warming with nobody out in the fourth inning.
Okay, so you need to know a little more than that, specifically about Madison Bumgarner. He was brilliant: 7 2/3 innings, no runs, four singles, seven strikeouts, a walk, and a hit batsmen. Bumgarner faced just three batters with a runner on second or third all night, and two of those came with two outs on the board. Credit the domination to his fastball command and control, but he was able to locate more than 65 percent of his cutters and 70 percent of his curveballs for strikes as well. It's almost impossible to hit a pitcher with his kind of stuff when he's locating.
Putting up zeroes on the road during the postseason has become a thing for Bumgarner. You've probably heard or seen the statistic by now—that he's at 26 2/3 scoreless innings now—but there should be an asterisk attached. Had the umpires rightly called Bumgarner for a balk during the seventh inning, the Cardinals plate a run. Though the call might not have changed the results otherwise, it needs to be noted.
Of course that's not to take anything away from Bumgarner. The way he pitched, he deserved some luck.
Returning to Wainwright for a moment, he put Mike Matheny in a tight spot. It's not that he was getting lined around the park or anything, he just wasn't efficient and struggled to put hitters away. There were a few balls that went against Wainwright—a blooper here or there, a defensive misplay or two as well—but he just didn't look as sharp as you'd like to see. If the Cardinals are going to win this series, they'll need better performances from him going forward. For now, St. Louis has to be concerned about his status.
There were three managerial moves of note.
- In the fifth, with a runner on first base and one out, Matheny allowed Gonzales (who had entered to face the last batter of the previous half-inning) to stay in the game and put down a bunt. The obvious argument here is he shouldn't have done that; he should've sent up a pinch-hitter and played to score multiple runs. That's fair. The compromise between what happened and what ideally would have happened involves Gonzales—a decent hitter throughout his amateur career—swinging away. Overall, that's a small critique.
- One other note on that decision that explains Matheny choosing against the pinch-hitter route: The Cards seem to be proceeding with a six-man bullpen, saving Michael Wacha for nothing short of an emergency. Wacha probably shouldn't be on the roster if that's the case, but Matheny can only use what he has, and that's likely part of why he chose against burning another pitcher.
- In the seventh, the Cardinals used Tony Cruz to face Bumgarner with two on and two out. The alternatives were Pete Kozma, Peter Bourjos, A.J. Pierzynski, and Oscar Taveras. Right call? Assuming neither Pierzynski nor Taveras was getting the call for platoon reasons, that leaves Kozma (.624 OPS versus lefties over the past three years), Bourjos (.595), and Cruz (.374) as the choices. You can maybe argue that Cruz is better than his numbers show because he seldom plays, but none of these was a great choice. Go by the numbers alone and Kozma probably should have gotten the plate appearance.
- Lastly there was letting Bumgarner bat for himself in the eighth. He'd return to retire two more batters, including the left-handed Matt Carpenter, thereby ensuring nobody would care.
A few other quick thoughts:
- The Giants lead felt bigger than three runs throughout.
- Bruce Bochy was aggressive in inserting Juan Perez in left field over Travis Ishikawa, opting for the better glove in the sixth inning.
- Randy Choate faced one batter, threw one pitch, got one out, then exited. Left-handed One Out GuY indeed.
- Pablo Sandoval had three hits, leaving him just one shy of matching his total from the NLDS.
- Most of the Giants bullpen got the night off. Sergio Romo (one out) and Santiago Casilla (three outs) did not. They helped blank the Cardinals in short order to make up for it.
Game Two happens tomorrow evening. It'll air on FOX Sports 1.