EDGE GOES TO GIANTS

Tonight’s pitching matchup for the first game of the World Series pits Kansas City’s James Shields, otherwise known as Big Game James, against San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner. Shields, 32, is a 6’3”, 215 pound right hander, with nine years major league experience and Bumgarner, 25, is a 6’5”, 235 pound left hander, with six years experience.

Shields won 14 while losing 8 in the regular season while striking out 180 batters in 227 innings. Bumgarner won 18 and lost 10 and struck out 219 batters in 217 innings. Bumgarner had four complete games while Shields had one. Both have excellent control with Bumgarner throwing 68.1% of his pitches for strikes this year while Shields threw 64.7%.

Shields has a career record of 114 wins and 90 losses with a 3.72 ERA between Tampa Bay, where he spent the first 7 years of his career, and Kansas City, where he has spent the last two, while Bumgarner has won 67 and lost 49 with a 3.06 ERA in his six years with the Giants and has won 47 and lost just 30 in his last 3 years.

Both pitchers have a great deal of playoff experience with Shields having pitched in 9 playoff games, winning 3 while losing 4 and compiling an earned run average of 5.19. On the other hand, Bumgarner has pitched in 11 games with a record of 5-3 and an earned run average of 2.67.

There has been a huge difference in their performances in this year’s playoffs, however, as Shields has started in three games, won 1 without a loss, but has only thrown 16 innings and given up 10 earned runs for a 5.625 ERA. Bumgarner has started four games, pitched 31 2/3 innings and given up just 3 runs for a 0.852 ERA and has struck out 28 batters. Shields has averaged just 5.33 innings per start while Bumgarner has averaged 7.9 innings per start.

Unless Shields can come up with a big game to match his nickname, the edge has to go to the Giants in Game 1 but, if Big Game James can keep it close, that trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, who, by the way, came to the Royals in the same trade that brought Shields over from Tampa Bay, and Greg Holland that come out of his bullpen can give their offense a chance to pull it out.

No matter what happens tonight, this pair of Wild Card entries in the 2014 post season are sure to provide plenty of excitement.

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