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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Sad Recap: 2016 Season - Wild Card Game - Giants (3) at Mets (0) - Bumgarner Outlast Syndergaard

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NY Mets000000000040
  W: M. Bumgarner (1-0)   L: J. Familia (0-1)

Sad Recap: 2016 Season - Wild Card Game - Giants (3) at Mets (0) - Bumgarner Outlast Syndergaard

Wild Card Game - San Francisco Giants v New York MetsMadison Bumgarner pitched a four-hitter for his latest postseason gem, outlasting Noah Syndergaard in a classic duel between aces, and injury substitute Conor Gillaspie hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning that sent San Francisco to a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets in the NL wild-card game Wednesday night.

"This game was everything we thought. Two really outstanding pitchers going at it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "One of the best postseason games I've been a part of."

Gillaspie connected off All-Star closer Jeurys Familia, who led the majors this year with a club-record 51 saves while allowing only one home run.

With their ninth consecutive victory when facing postseason elimination, Bochy and the Giants advanced to play the NL Central champion Cubs in a best-of-five Division Series. Game 1 is Friday night at venerable Wrigley Field in Chicago.

"I like our chances," Bumgarner said.

The good news for the Cubs as they attempt to end a championship drought that dates to 1908 is this: Bumgarner probably won't start until Game 3 - and would only be available once on full rest.

The big left-hander has been untouchable under pressure.

"It's unbelievable what he's done," Gillaspie said.

The last time Bumgarner was on the mound in the postseason, he saved Game 7 of the 2014 World Series in Kansas City with five scoreless innings on two days' rest to cap one of the greatest playoff performances in baseball history.

Including his four-hit shutout at Pittsburgh in the 2014 wild-card game, he has tossed 23 straight scoreless innings in winner-take-all games - all on the road.

Sandy Koufax. Bob Gibson. Whitey Ford - Bumgarner ranks right up there with any of `em when it comes to October clutch.

"He's one of the game's great big-game pitchers," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Asked how he wants to be remembered, Bumgarner said: "I'm a winner. That's all anybody wants to be."

After having the best record in the majors at the All-Star break, San Francisco was 26-42 in the second half before finishing with a four-game winning streak to hold off St. Louis by one game for the final NL playoff spot.

Now, the Giants have a chance to extend their pattern of even-year titles after winning World Series crowns in 2010, `12 and `14.

In a matchup between the past two NL champions, Syndergaard struck out 10 in seven innings of two-hit ball. Familia entered in the ninth and Brandon Crawford lined a leadoff double. Angel Pagan struck out after failing to get a bunt down, and Joe Panik walked.

Gillaspie, starting at third base for injured All-Star Eduardo Nunez and playing his first postseason game, drove a 96 mph pitch to right field and pumped his arm as he rounded first.

"I don't know what I was thinking. Normally I'm not a fired-up guy. I let some frustration out from the first six innings with that swing," said Gillaspie, who was 7 for 14 with five RBIs in his final five games of the regular season.

Before he connected, the Giants had a pinch-hitter on deck to bat for Bumgarner.

When the ball cleared the fence, it stunned a revved-up, orange towel-waving crowd of 44,747 that sank into its Citi Field seats with a collective groan.

"I missed the location," Familia said simply.

With the Giants finally ahead, Bochy sent Bumgarner back out. He closed with a 1-2-3 ninth against the 3-4-5 hitters and smacked his glove in triumph when rookie T.J. Rivera flied out to end it.

San Francisco players hugged each other behind the mound and headed for the clubhouse to celebrate with bubbly, cheered by a happy contingent of Giants fans behind their dugout.

"Bum just did his thing," Bochy said. "We won the game because of him."

With his sizzling fastball clocking 99 mph and long, blond locks dangling down his neck, Syndergaard held San Francisco hitless until Denard Span's two-out single in the sixth.

Mets center fielder Curtis Granderson kept the game scoreless with a courageous grab of Brandon Belt's deep drive, crashing hard with his left shoulder into the padded fence 408 feet from home plate and tumbling to the warning track.

Syndergaard simply overpowered the Giants at times, but Bumgarner kept the Mets off balance by mixing pinpoint pitches and changing speeds from around 93 mph down to 77 mph.

New York came out swinging after Collins said before the game his hitters had seen enough video of Bumgarner over the past two days to know he would challenge them. But the aggressive approach played right into the hands of Bumgarner and the Giants, who never had to use a shaky bullpen that struggled badly down the stretch.

The big lefty was able to get quick outs early and went the distance on 119 pitches, striking out six and walking two - one intentional. He needed only seven pitches to get through each of the first three innings, with the help of a double play.

"I really thought, `Hey look, if we can get to him early,'" Collins said. "We probably need to do a little better job of working the count."

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Giants/Mets Wild Card Notes

Giants/Mets Wild Card Notes:

  • Including a three-game sweep of the Dodgers last weekend at AT&T Park, the Giants won their last four games of the regular season, garnering a spot in the wild-card game for the second time in the last three seasons. The Giants, who have now made the playoffs each even year since 2010, won the World Series as a wild-card team in 2014.
  • The Mets entered play on August 20 with a record of 60-62, and 5.5 games behind the Cardinals for the NL's second wild-card spot (Dodgers had the first wild-card spot through August 19). New York was an MLB-best 27-13 (.675) August 20 to the end of the regular season, wrapping up its second straight playoff appearance for the first time since 1999-2000.
  • New York took four of seven meetings with San Francisco in 2016, including winning two of three at Citi Field. The Mets and Giants have met in the playoffs one time prior -- the 2000 NLDS won by New York in four games (3-1).
  • San Francisco entered the All-Star break with the best record in the majors at 57-33 (.633). Despite finishing the regular season by going 30-42 in their last 72 games, the Giants never fell out of playoff position after the 2016 Midsummer Classic.
  • Madison Bumgarner led all Giants starters in ERA (2.74), innings pitched (226.2) and strikeouts (251) for the fourth consecutive season in 2016. The NLCS and World Series MVP in 2014, Bumgarner has a 2.14 ERA in 14 career postseason appearances (12 starts) -- the third-lowest postseason ERA in MLB history (minimum 10 GS). Bumgarner is 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA in six career starts vs. the Mets.
  • Noah Syndergaard gets the nod to start this contest after going 5-2 in his last eight outings, and leading all Mets starters in ERA (2.60) and strikeouts (218) this year. Syndergaard was 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA in two postseason starts at Citi Field in 2015.
  • New York got 51.1 percent of its runs via the long ball this season -- second only to Baltimore (51.9) among all MLB teams, and the highest mark in team history. Just 28.5 percent of the Giants' runs came from homers in 2016 (second lowest in the majors).

2016 Mets Playoff Hype Video

2016 Mets Playoff Hype Video

Preview: 2016 Season - Wild Card Game - Giants at Mets - Bumgarner vs Syndergaard - 8:05 PM

Preview: 2016 Season - Wild Card Game - Giants at Mets - Bumgarner vs Syndergaard - 8:05 PM

Wild Card Game - San Francisco Giants (87-75, 42-39 Road) vs New York Mets (87-75, 44-37 Home)

Probable Pitchers: SF - Madison Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74 ERA) vs NYM - Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60 ERA)

TV/Radio: ESPN/WOR 710 AM

Game Time: 8:05 PM - Batters vs Pitchers Stats at Bottom of Page

Image result for 2016 mlb wild card logoTonight is the night for Mets Fans. It's either win or go home, in the Mets case they could just stay home.

At Citi Field Wednesday night Giants' ace Madison Bumgarner will oppose Mets' ace, right-hander Noah Syndergaard, as the Giants and Mets battle for the opportunity to face the top-seeded Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series.

Both the Mets and Giants finished 87-75 -- the Mets earned home-field advantage by winning the season series 4-3 -- but they reached the finish line in decidedly different fashions.

With most of their rotation and nearly all of their Opening Day lineup ravaged by injury, the reigning NL champion Mets were 5 1/2 games behind in the race for the NL's second wild card on Aug. 19 and 61-62 after beating the Giants in San Francisco the next day. It was the latest a wild card team has been under .500 since the 2005 Astros were also 61-62 after 123 games.

But the Mets had the best record in baseball (26-13) the rest of the way to reach the playoffs for a second straight season for only the second time in franchise history.

Rookie pitchers Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo went 9-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) during the Mets' season-ending run, which happened with six

Opening Day starters either already sidelined for the season or playing part-time roles due to injury or ineffectiveness.

Collins spoke throughout the season about how important it was for his team not to ride the daily rollercoaster. But did the season ever feel as chaotic from the inside as it looked from outside?

"In the manager's room it did," Collins said with a grin. "We tried not to let it spread to the clubhouse too bad. But there's so much maneuvering that we had to do.

"We know that certainly the planes from (the Mets' Triple-A affiliate) Vegas to here were (used) a lot. There's a lot of red-eyes that were used. But it all comes with the territory."

The Giants, meanwhile, led the NL West by as many as eight games on June 26 and reached the All-Star Break with the best record in baseball at 57-33. But they went just 30-42 the rest of the way -- the worst post-All-Star Break record for a playoff team since the wild card was implemented in 1995 -- and fell out of first place for good with a 2-0 loss to the Mets on Aug. 21.

"As good as we were in the first half, we had our hiccups the second half," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

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