Brandon Crawford is a quiet guy. It was only fitting that silence fell on PNC Park after his at-bat in the fourth.
Despite his reticent disposition, he had the loudest at-bat of the game with a grand slam to propel the Giants past the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0 Wednesday and into the NLDS.
It was a swing that surprised manager Bruce Bochy:
“Crawford’s been swinging the bat well so I was really confident with him up there doing something. I didn’t know he would hit a grand slam. It’s hard to get a bigger hit.”
Crawford’s grand slam was the first ever by a shortstop in the postseason.
As he sat next to Madison Bumgarner (W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) at the postgame podium, both soaked in champagne, Crawford relived the moment and what it meant with Bumgarner on the mound:
“I felt pretty comfortable coming into that at-bat. You get a little confidence when those first three guys get on. With him [Bumgarner] on the mound, I only really wanted to get one. Fortunately, I got enough of it to give him four.”
Speaking of silence, the only thing quieter than the Pittsburgh crowd were the collective bats of the Pirates.
Bumgarner did exactly what an ace does in an elimination game.
He went the distance Wednesday with a complete game shutout to go along with 10 strikeouts. He only allowed four hits and one walk on 109 pitches.
With his gentle southern twang, he described his mentality going into big games:
“For me, I have to push all the nerves and anxiety aside and find a way just to concentrate on pitching. If you don’t, you get amped up and start leaving balls over the middle. That’s not going to work too well in this league. Fortunate enough for us, it worked out tonight.”
It was a big night for both Brandon’s as Brandon Belt drove in three along with Crawford’s four to drive in seven of the Giants’ eight runs.
Belt has found his swing the last week going into the postseason.
He spoke Thursday about his play after battling back from concussion symptoms:
“It just feels good to get back on the field and playing again with the guys. Fortunately I’ve been able to go out there and put a few good swings together.”
He batted .400 (6-for-15) with a home run, two doubles and three RBIs over the last seven days going into Wednesday’s game. Belt ended up 2-for-3 with two walks.
Pablo Sandoval was dialed in at the plate as well and perhaps made the best defensive play he’s made all season in the seventh inning.
On a popup in foul territory, Sandoval scampered toward the Pirates dugout, reached beyond the fence and rolled into the Pirates bench to make the catch. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.
Joe Panik finished the game with three hits of his own. That’s not a surprising sight from the Giants rookie second baseman, who finished the regular season with a .305 batting average (82-for-269).
Edinson Volquez (L, 0-1, 9.00 ERA) took the second postseason loss of his career. He pitched a full house with five innings, five hits, five earned runs, three walks and three strikeouts.
The Giants will travel to Washington for the NLDS against the Nationals Friday. The Giants have already made their Game 1 starter clear with Jake Peavy (7-13, 3.73 ERA).
The Nationals have yet to announce a pitcher, but righty Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14 ERA) would be the most likely candidate. Game time is 12:07 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.