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Bumgarner pitched a four-hitter for his latest post-season 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.
With their ninth consecutive victory when facing post-season elimination, manager Bruce 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.
That’s because 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 post-season, 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.
“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.”
In a matchup between the past two NL champions, Syndergaard struck out 10 in seven shutout innings of two-hit ball. Brandon Crawford doubled leading off the ninth against Familia. Angel Pagan struck out after failing to get a bunt down, and Joe Panik walked.
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.
Eager to take advantage of Syndergaard’s slow delivery, Span stole second before Brandon Belt sent a long drive to deep centre. Curtis Granderson, moved over from right field late in the season because of injuries to two other outfielders, crashed hard with his left shoulder into the padded fence 408 feet from home plate and tumbled to the warning track.
He held onto the ball, however, and was shaken up a bit before getting to his feet and jogging off the field as teammates waited to high-five him and fans chanted “Grandy! Grandy!” Syndergaard raised his arm, while Belt tossed his helmet in frustration between first and second.
“He was really good tonight. He was as good as I’ve seen at this level. It was a tough go-round for seven innings,” Gillaspie said.
And while Syndergaard simply overpowered the Giants at times, Bumgarner kept the Mets off balance by mixing pinpoint pitches and changing speeds from around 93-77 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.
Giants: Nunez (strained right hamstring) was left off the wild-card roster, costing San Francisco a base-stealing threat against Syndergaard. An AL All-Star this season with Minnesota, he was acquired in a July 28 trade but hasn’t played since Sept. 25.
Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (wrist) was missed, particularly because of his prodigious numbers against left-handed pitching. Flores has been sidelined since Sept. 10 after getting hurt in a home-plate collision. Surgery is planned this week to remove the hamate bone in his right wrist, and Flores is expected to be healthy for spring training next year.