ARLINGTON, Texas – The Giants moved within one victory of the franchise’s first championship in 56 years with a 4-0 victory over the Rangers in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night, playing the type of game that has defined the team in this improbable run.
Rookie Madison Bumgarner pitched eight innings and the Giants got the lead on Aubrey Huff’s two-run homer in the third inning, his first homer of the postseason.
Giants closer Brian Wilson finished things in the ninth inning to cap the shutout.
Bumgarner, at 21 years, 91 days, became the youngest pitcher to start and win a World Series game since Fernando Valenzuela (20 years, 356 days) in 1981. Bumgarner and Buster Posey were the first all-rookie battery in the World Series since the Yankees’ Spec Shea and Yogi Berra in 1947.
Posey, a leading candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, hit a deep home run to center field in the eighth inning to put the contest well out of reach.
Bumgarner stifled the Rangers’ high-powered offense with the help of some sharp defense.
The Giants turned a nice double play in the first, and second baseman Freddy Sanchez made a leaping snag of a line drive to end the second. Sanchez also grabbed a ball that ricocheted off Bumgarner’s glove to get an out in the fourth, just before Buster Posey made a nice throw to nail Josh Hamilton attempting to steal. Sanchez made a nice pick of Posey’s throw in the dirt on that play.
Rangers starter Tommy Hunter continued his mediocre postseason, getting chased after only four innings, but he kept the Rangers in the game by getting out of trouble. Hunter threw 83 pitches to get just 12 outs, but the only runs the Giants scored on him were the two on Huff’s homer in the third inning.
Texas manager Ron Washington cut his losses early on Hunter, turning the game over to the bullpen in the fifth. Hunter has not made it past the fifth inning in any of his three postseason starts.
â€¢ Turning Point: In the second inning, the Giants didn’t score, but they did make Hunter work hard. They got a charitable call from first base umpire Jeff Kellogg, who made a bad call that extended the inning by 11 pitches. Hunter had thrown 44 pitches through two innings, and he threw another 17 to Andres Torres, who doubled, and Sanchez, who grounded out. He seemed to be gassed at that point, and that’s when he threw a meatball to Huff, who belted it over the right-field fence.
â€¢ Stud: Torres had two doubles and a single, continuing a remarkable postseason turnaround. He was 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts in the postsason before he got benched for Game 3 of the NLCS. Starting with Game 4 of the series, Torres has gone 12-for-28. He drove in the Giants’ third run with a two-out seventh-inning double.
â€¢ Dud: Vladimir Guerrero struck out three times, including twice with a runner on base. It was the first time all year Guerrero whiffed three times. Guerrero is now 1-for-10 so far in the World Series. Only one left-hander has ever struck out Guerrero three times in a game before Bumgarner Sunday night – Al Leiter on June 16, 1998.
The Rangers have hit .211 so far in the World Series, including .172 over the past three games. They had been hitting .281 through the first two rounds against the Rays and Yankees. Giants opponents have hit .202 so far this postseason.
â€¢ Big Picture: The Giants got a critical victory. Now they need to win just one of the next two games to capture the series without going to Game 7, which could become an issue because Jonathan Sanchez, the scheduled starter for that game, has not pitched well lately. Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said the Giants may have to look for alternatives if they get that far. Now, they just need to win behind either Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain. Lincecum will face Cliff Lee in Game 5 on Monday.