What Madison Bumgarner just did is supposed to be impossible. Every single pitch, every single whip of the arm exerts an extreme amount of pressure on the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and every single joint and muscle in-between. After games you see starting pitchers with giant bags of ice wrapped around their shoulders, and they exist on a strict regimen of light-to-moderate throwing sessions in-between starts. Everything is geared so that, once every five days, they can stand on top of the mound and violently hurl their arm towards home plate 100 times.
Madison Bumgarner pitched a masterful complete game shutout in Game 5 on Sunday, the first in the World Series since 2003. In the regular season, he wouldn't have pitched again until Friday. But Jake Peavy blew Game 6, and Tim Hudson was well on his way to blowing Game 7 before Bruce Bochy yanked him in the second inning. Bochy turned to Jeremy Affeldt, one of his best relievers, and rode him for 2 1/3 innings. Affedlt hasn't pitched more than 2 1/3 innings since he started some games in 2006. He was ridden as far as he could go.
Heading into the fifth inning, Bochy had to decide how to eat up the remaining (at least) five innings of the game. Does he use one of his long relievers, Yusmeiro Petit or Tim Lincecum? Does he use Hunter Strickland or Jean Machi, two of his worst relievers who both pitched last night? Does he somehow try and wring five innings out of the ultra-reliable trio of Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Casilla?
No, of course not. Bochy chose Bumgarner.
The Giants would've been grateful for practically anything Bumgarner could have given them. Anything to push them deeper into the game, each inning bringing the Giants closer to only needing to use their better relievers. But Bumgarner said "nah, fuck that."
In the fifth inning he gave up a single to Omar Infante, who didn't advance beyond second, before retiring the side. In the sixth inning he went 1-2-3. In the seventh inning he went 1-2-3. In the eighth inning he went 1-2-3. In the ninth inning he went 1-2-oh shit Gregor Blanco turned that single into a triple-3. And that was it. That was the end of the World Series.
You are not supposed to be able to throw five shutout innings on just two days of rest, in the World Series, in Game 7, after throwing over 50 postseason innings, after throwing over 200 regular season innings. Madison Bumgarner just did something truly insane. Did Bruce Bochy ever think of pulling Bumgarner? Nope. "The innings were easy," he said post-game.
No listing of numbers can truly encapsulate what Bumgarner just did, but I'm going to try.
In the World Series Bumgarner went 2-0 with a save, giving up one measly earned run for a 0.42 ERA in 21 innings pitched.
Bumgarner's 21 World Series innings pitched were 4 2/3 more than the rest of the rotation pitched COMBINED.
For his career, he is 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA in 36 World Series innings.
Bumgarner pitched 52 2/3 innings in the postseason, blowing by Curt Schilling's record of 48 1/3 set in 2001. His ERA for those record setting innings—against ostensibly the best teams in baseball—was an astoundingly minuscule 1.03.
For his career, Bumgarner is 7-3 with a 2.27 ERA in the postseason.
Madison Bumgarner threw the 12th most innings in the majors during the regular season. 3,372 times he reared back and hurled his left arm forcefully across his body, a savage delivery that would inspire concern in any pitcher not named Bumgarner. Before Game 7, he added 634 more postseason pitches. 4,006 pitches on that arm, and then he went out and added 68 more nearly perfect pitches.
I doubt you'll ever see anything like that again.
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