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Madison Bumgarner's Pivotal Error Gives Nationals Game 3 Over Giants

Befitting two teams that took 18 innings to score three stinkin' runs on Saturday night, Game 3 between the Giants and Nationals was a pitcher's duel, for six innings at least. And when the game broke wide open it was mostly due to error, not solid hitting.


Madison Bumgarner cruised into the 7 th inning having only given up four hits and thrown 76 pitches. It looks like be might be able to go the distance, but facing some of the Nationals's power hitters, Bumgarner faltered. After giving up a leadoff single to Ian Desmond and walking Bryce Harper, catcher Wilson Ramos came up with two men on and no outs. The Nationals understandably attempted to play some small ball to score a run in a 0–0 game, with Ramos squaring up to bunt. He took two strikes looking before successfully laying down a bunt back to Bumgarner.

Instead of living to fight another day and taking the out at first, Bumgarner attempted to nail the lead runner at third. Pablo Sandoval couldn't stretch far enough to corral Bumgarner's errant throw, and both Desmond and Harper came around to score. An Asdrubal Cabrera grounder into left was enough to score Ramos, and the Nationals had their three runs. Bryce Harper would later add a fourth run with an impressive moon shot and the Giants scored a consolation run in the bottom of the 9th, but it was too little too late.

The FanGraphs win probability chart above really demonstrates how pivotal the 7th inning was, with the Giants win probability standing at 50% when the inning started and 9.9% when it ended. There were so few pivotal plays other than Bumgarner's error that it is the only point on the entire graph with a label.


Game 4 is Tuesday night in San Francisco.

Photo via Ezra Shaw/Getty

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