Programming note: For the most comprehensive World Series coverage from Kansas City, watch "October Quest" tonight at 6:30 and 10 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO -- We’ll save you a lot of superfluous video and typing and just tell you this off the top.
The answer to every question Sunday night was Madison Bumgarner, except one: The name of the last man to start Games 5 and 7 of a World Series.
Hint: It won’t be Bumgarner. We think.
Yet again, he dominated his surroundings – The Big Thing on King, the Kansas City Royals, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal, the hearts of a town that has moved past all other Giant-ic affectations and now ranks him first.
He has thrown three four-hitters in his six postseason starts, now that you can throw his latest masterwork on the pile, a 5-0 smothering of the Kansas City Royals so comprehensive that manager Ned Yost’s only hope for getting the seventh game he so desperately craves is the knowledge that Bumgarner won’t start Game 6.
Although someone came close to asking Bruce Bochy.
If there was a dramatic difference in this Madsterpiece, it was that he used more sliders, cutters and curve balls to get outs than usual. But the results were just as clear.
(Oh, and in the spirit of being fair to the Royals, the hits came from Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Omar Infante. They can tell their grandkids that in about 25 years).
[BAGGARLY: Rewind: Bumgarner casts perfect pose to make history]
But in all other ways, this was the same clinical work he has shown the entire postseason. His occasional flares of you-want-some-of-me- temper aside, he is a freaking robot. Even if you hate earned run average as a stat, you math creeps, his ERA of 0.94 this October screams as loud as any other metric you can gack up. It’s. Just. That. Simple.
But it isn’t the numbers any more. It’s the myth that he is a cyborg, able to pitch with his feet while welding a wrought iron fence with his heat vision and juggling three horses and a steer for spare change. That’s how weird this has gotten.
Indeed, Bochy was asked after Game 5 if Bumgarner would not only be available for Game 7, but Game 6 as well, a question so clinically insane that . . . oh, hell, shut up. You were wondering the same thing.
Well, as near as we can tell, it has never happened, though we can tell you in 1887 that the three starters for the Detroit Wolverines in their 15-game series with the St. Louis Browns had starts from only Pretzels Getzien, Pete Conway and Charles (Lady) Baldwin. I don’t know if any of them pitched three times in a row, but I did want to type their names.
And the last guy to start Games 5 and 7 of a World Series was Vic (The Hoosier Schoolmaster) Aldridge for the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates, although he only lasted for six hitters in the first inning of Game 7. His other claim to fame was that when he showed up to training camp with the Cubs one year, he brought only one suitcase that contained a toothbrush and approximately 100 bottles of Pinaud’s Hair Tonic, none of which he ever used on his hair if you get our drift.
[STIGLICH: Lost weekend in Bay Area for Royals]
Then again, he never tried to drink them six at a time the way Bumgarner has done with beer this postseason, so there’s that.
I think you see the gimmick here now. We’re stalling because Bumgarner is the center of this postseason’s universe, and all the players around the October stage are his moons. There have been a number of top-grade performances from a number of Giants (Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo), but facts are facts.
Madison Bumgarner has been the single dominant figure of this postseason, and has eclipsed all other figures on all other teams so dramatically that you’d at least want him to get one final moment in Kauffman Stadium just to scare the hell out of the locals.
And Bochy wouldn’t be completely above that. Bumgarner surely wouldn’t.
“I’m not a big pitch-count guy,” he said. “As long as you can get outs, you should stay out there.”
Interestingly, though, he only topped 120 pitches one time all year, in a loss at – of course – Kansas City. Of his 154 major league starts, he has been pushed past that figure only five times, and has only eight career complete games. Thus, while he is considered indefatigable in the town that is now his more than anyone else’s, he has not been asked to be so.
“He only threw 10 pitches in the ninth inning,” Bochy said without adding that three of the last four to Hosmer were out of the zone. “He wasn’t laboring. Now would he be available if a situation like (Game 7) came up)? Yeah. He’d have two days off, and he’s a strong kid. We wouldn’t mind pushing him one time (starting him on short rest), but the talk about doing it twice, we did have some concern.”
And Game 6?
“I doubt I would do that. He would tell me he’s fine. That’s his bullpen day. But you never know. It’s all hands on deck these next two days, but ideally, sure, you’d like to give him a couple days.”
“Do I plan to throw a bullpen? No.”
In other words, he’s no Pretzels Getzien, let alone Lady Baldwin, and there isn’t enough Pinaud’s Hair Tonic in the world to make that make sense.
At least we don’t THINK so.