Bumgarner was called up to the majors on June 26 and gave the Giants seven wins during the regular season, added two more in the postseason—the NL Division Series clincher and Sunday's gem, both on the road—and piled up 2141/3 innings including his minor league work, an enormous sum for a 21-year-old in the age of pitcher protectionism. He also made moot for the Giants the question that gnawed at the other teams that reached the LCS round, the Yankees, Phillies and Rangers: whether to pitch an ace on short rest or throw an underwhelming fourth starter. The Giants were 3--0 with Bumgarner; New York, Philadelphia and Texas were 1--4 with their No. 4 starters.
Bumgarner pitches as if throwing around the corner of a building, often leaving hitters confused as to whence the ball is coming and where it is going. Rangers slugger Vladimir Guerrero, for instance, whiffed badly three straight times against Bumgarner, the first time he had ever done so against a lefthander in his 15-year career. Says Sabean of Bumgarner's stuff, "It's deceptive. It's tougher standing there in the clay than it is on the radar gun."
"It's a hugely difficult task," says Wilson, who had six saves and didn't give up a run while striking out 16 in 112/3 innings in the postseason, "to face pitching like ours if you've never seen us before."
Perhaps never before did the World Series, an institution older than manned flight, acquire such newness, such accessibility, as this one. It was welcomed with the ebullience of an unexpected gift in San Francisco and Arlington. Bay Area fans joyfully swayed to Journey's Lights while those in Texas stomped through Deep in the Heart of Texas. San Francisco was a costume party, Arlington a state fair.
But the newfound joy and unusual theater could be distilled into an old-fashioned lesson. The Giants became the first team since the 1966 Orioles to throw two shutouts in the World Series, giving them four for the postseason. Only two other teams, both legendary, ever threw that many in a postseason: the 1998 Yankees, winners of a record 125 games, and the 1905 Giants, the franchise's first championship team.
It was in that dead-ball environment a century ago when Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity won all four Series games with shutouts. Consider them the forefathers to the Big Four more than a century later. This Giants' title bore a striking resemblance to the first: Pitching was made cool again.