- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner got the better of fellow ace Noah Syndergaard and shut out the New York Mets 3-0 in Wednesday night’s National League wild-card game.

The single-elimination game was billed as a pitching duel between two of the best hurlers in the game and it did not disappoint on that front, as Bumgarner threw nine shutout innings, extending his streak of post-season scoreless frames to 23.

On the offensive side, the Giants were lifted by the unlikeliest of heroes. Third-baseman Conor Gillaspie got the big hit, a three-run ninth-inning homer off Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who had given up a leadoff double to Brandon Crawford and walked Joe Panik.

But before the top of the ninth, it was nothing but zeroes, as Syndergaard had a no-hitter until Giants outfielder Denard Span got a single off him with two outs in the sixth inning.

The scoreless tie was nearly broken there and then as the speedy outfielder stole second and then the Giants‘ Brandon Belt hit a rocket out to center field. Span would easily have scored had Mets center-fielder Curtis Granderson not made a running catch that sent him crashing into the outfield wall.

Syndergaard left the game after seven innings with the score still 0-0.

But the Mets themselves could muster only four hits for the game on the pitcher widely considered the best post-season pitcher of the era.

Bumgarner helped his own cause in the bottom of the eighth with a reflex catch of a ball hit by Asdrubal Cabrera that, had the Giants pitcher missed it, might have sneaked into the outfield and scored pinch-hitter Ty Kelly from second.

In a post-game interview, Gillaspie praised Syndergaard, saying “it was a tough go-around for seven innings … hats off to him. He’s got some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen.”

His game-winning home run this felt even sweeter, he said.

“Normally I’m not a very fired-up guy. but I let some frustration out from the first six innings with that swing,” Gillaspie said.

The Giants go on to face the Chicago Cubs, who had the best regular-season record in baseball and are the betting favorites to win the World Series. But the Giants have history on their side — they’ve won the World Series in the last three even-numbered years (while missing the post-season in all three intervening odd-numbered years). Their 2014 title also came as a wild-card team.

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