Oct 1, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco (left) and shortstop Brandon Crawford (right) celebrate in the clubhouse after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2014 National League Wild Card playoff baseball game at PNC Park. The Giants won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
You probably don’t believe me when I say I have nothing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I didn’t take any kind of special pleasure in watching them lose the National League Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants.
I reserve those kinds of feelings for the St. Louis Cardinals.
None of us should be surprised that Madison Bumgarner had a great night last night in Pittsburgh, but to only manage four hits in a shutout, and only threaten to score one time is a little surprising from a Pirates team with a great lineup.
There was a lot of debate over the weekend about if the Pirates were being foolish by using their best pitcher, Gerrit Cole, on Sunday to try and win the division in a game against Reds ace Johnny Cueto.
The Pirates also needed the Arizona Diamondbacks to beat Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. Cole and the Pirates lost to Cueto and the Reds, and the Cardinals sat Wainwright down and used a bevy of youngsters to beat the Diamondbacks and lock down the central on the season’s final day.
The problem isn’t that the Pirates tried to tie their division; it is that in doing so, they left who is probably their worst starter on the mound for Tuesday’s wild card game against the Giants.
Volquez has had a good season, and really he only had one bad inning in his five-plus innings on the mound last night. Ultimately, I’m not entirely sure it mattered for the Pirates who started on the mound because their offense was completely silent against the masterful Bumgarner.
In fact, the Pirates only real threat came in the seventh inning after a couple of errors by the Giants. Otherwise Bumgarner held them to four hits and one walk while striking out 10.
In the regular season, I may have criticized Bruce Bochy for leaving Bumgarner out there to throw the shutout, but he only threw 109 pitches, and if you can get out of a game without using your bullpen in October, you do it. They’ll get their work in against the Nationals this week.
I don’t think they have what they need to win the World Series, but to me the Giants are the least objectionable of the teams in the National League field, so they are who I’ll be cheering for this post season.
Who are you cheering for? Let us know in the comments.