Bumgarner dominates Rangers, Giants now one win away from championship

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the Texas Rangers during Game 4 of Major League Baseball's World Series in Arlington, Texas, October 31, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Here’s a six-pack of observations from the Giants’ 4-0 win over the Rangers in Game 4 of the World Series. San Fran is now just one win away from becoming World Champions.

1. It’s hard to oversell how good Bumgarner was.
Had Giants’ starter Madison Bumgarner walked onto the field in Game 4 and proceeded to give up five runs on eight hits to the Rangers in their home ballpark, people would have shrugged and said, “What did you expect from a rookie pitching in the World Series?” But the fact that he went eight innings without giving up a run and limited the Rangers to just three hits was unbelievable. The Rangers had only been shutout once at home this year. Once. Bumgarner faced the league’s top hitting team and completely dominated them for eight innings. He needed just 106 pitches to record 24 outs and struck out six while holding Texas without an extra-base hit. Think about that for a second: Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Vlad Guerrero, the seemingly unstoppable Mitch Moreland – zero extra-base hits. Unreal. Madison Bumgarner was unreal in the biggest start of his young career.

2. Bochy continues to make all the right decisions this postseason.
Every move that Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy has made this postseason – from changes to his lineup to handling the pitching staff to defensive adjustments in the later innings – has paid off. He made two underrated moves before Game 4 that will certainly be overlooked in the Giants’ victory. One was benching a highly ineffective Pat Burrell and replacing him with Nate Schierholtz, which forced Cody Ross to move to left field. The move gave the Giants a major lift defensively, as Ross made at least one great catch that would have surely fallen in front of Burrell for a base hit. And who knows, there may have been others that would have led to Rangers’ runs. Schierholtz wasn’t any better than Burrell at the plate, but it didn’t matter. Moving Ross over to left and getting Burrell out of the lineup was the key. The other move Bochy made was replacing Aubrey Huff with Travis Ishikawa, which gave the Giants a better defensive first baseman and allowed Huff to concentrate solely on his offense. The end result was that Huff hit a two-run homer in the third, which was really all the offense San Fran needed with how well Bumgarner was pitching. (Of course, the double Andres Torres hit to score Edgar Renteria in the seventh and the homer Buster Posey hit in the eighth certainly helped ease the tension for Bumgarner and the rest of the club.)

3. The Giants continue to get all the breaks, but…
From calls on the base paths to near home runs to balls that bounce off the top of the wall instead of into the stands (or over the wall for home runs), the Giants have gotten all the breaks in this series. That said, they’ve also made their own breaks too. Their starters have been better, their bullpen has been better, their offense has been more clutch and Bruce Bochy has outmanaged Ron Washington. So when it’s time for one team to catch breaks, it’s been the Giants who have been most deserving. That may be salt in the wounds of Rangers fans, but it’s true. The Giants have just been better.

4. Rangers need way more production out of the heart of their order.
The Giants’ pitching is outstanding – maybe even the best in baseball now. But there’s simply no excuse for this Texas team to have gotten shut out in two of the first four games in this series. Vladimir Guerrero’s at-bats on Sunday were putrid. Josh Hamilton has been nearly non-existent since his play in the ALCS. Nelson Cruz’s power…well, what power? The heart of the Rangers’ order has turned to mush since the start of the World Series and if it doesn’t come alive in less than 24 hours, then Texas will be watching the Giants celebrate on their home field Monday night. No offense to Mitch Moreland, but he can’t be your best hitter in a lineup that consists of guys like Hamilton, Guerrero, Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.

5. The umpiring has been brutal thus far.
I can’t even begin to describe the zone that home plate umpire Mike Winters had on Sunday night. He was calling strikes high, low, inside, outside – it didn’t matter. Then he called balls that were high, low, inside and outside. He was all over the place and the fact that Madison Bumgarner went eight innings while only giving up three hits is a freaking miracle. It was bad on both sides and it only got worse as the game went on. Pitches that were called balls in the first three innings were called strikes in the last three innings. Winters’ performance was bad and unfortunately, it only fell in line with the rest of the home plate umpires this series. And the guys on the base paths weren’t any better, as replays showed that the Rangers got screwed on two bang-bang plays at first base. Major League Baseball can’t be too happy with these umpiring crew this series. This is the best the game has to offer?

6. It’s redemption time, Cliff Lee.
The Rangers are in a bad spot down 3-1 in the series, but they still have plenty of life left. First and foremost, they need to take it one game at a time because if they get caught looking ahead, they won’t make it past Monday night. They have their ace on the mound in Game 5, but unfortunately for them their ace was shelled in Game 1 and they’re also facing the Giants’ best pitcher in Tim Lincecum. That said, it’s highly unlikely that Lee has two bad games in a row and Lincecum doesn’t like pitching in warm climates (San Francisco hardly constitutes as a warm climate – especially at night), so if the Rangers’ bats come alive then there’s no doubt they can force a Game 6. Their backs are up against it, but they have the advantage in Game 5 and they need to keep that in mind.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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