World Series Game 1 Recap: No More Big Game James

In a battle of aces, Madison Bumgarner outdueled James Shields in Game 1.

Let's just get this out of the way now. Kansas City's James Shields is a terrific starting pitcher.

During the regular season, Shields had a nERD of 2.03 - meaning over a 27-out game, Shields would have given up 2.03 runs a game less than a league average pitcher. That was eighth-best in all of baseball. He won 14 games, had an ERA of 3.21, and pitched 227 innings with a 3.3 Wins Above Replacement from Baseball Reference (bWAR).

Shields was really darn good this year, and as a pending free agent, will likely score a big contract this offseason.

All that being said, the man nicknamed "Big Game" James was throwing batting practice last night in Game 1 of the World Series against the Giants. He lasted just three-plus innings, gave up seven hits, and was responsible for five Giants' runs in San Francisco's eventual 7-1 victory.

In 10 career postseason starts, including last night, Shields' ERA is 5.74. In this year's playoffs, he's made four starts and hasn't made it past six innings in any of them. He's given up 15 runs in 19 innings, and his three inning outing last night was the shortest of his career since June of 2008 against the Red Sox. Opponents are now hitting .337 against Shields in this postseason.

His nickname, which he did not give himself, should be retired for a while.

Madison Bumgarner, meanwhile, was spectacular once again for San Francisco. In his third career World Series start, he pitched seven innings and gave up one run on three hits with five strikeouts and one walk. And at just 25 years old, Bumgarner has already earned a reputation for himself as a big-game pitcher. In three World Series starts (counting 2010 and 2012 as well as last night), he's 3-0 and has allowed one run in 22 Fall Classic innings. He is the youngest pitcher in baseball history to win a game in three different World Series.

And in the 2014 playoffs, Bumgarner has an ERA of 1.29. While "Big Game" Madison doesn't have quite the same ring to it, it's a bit more fitting.

During the regular season, Bumgarner went 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA, posted a bWAR of 4.0 and had a nERD of 2.01, which was 10th-best in baseball. Not only that, the dude is a world class grunter.

He's also apparently one heck of a spitter.

Last night, the turning point came in the bottom of the third with San Francisco leading 3-0. The Royals had runners on second and third with no out, thanks to an error by shortstop Brandon Crawford and a double by Mike Moustakas. Bumgarner then buckled down and struck out Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki and walked ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain, before getting Eric Hosmer to ground out weakly to second and end the threat.

The Giants struck for two addition runs in the top of the fourth, knocking Shields out of the game, and ending Game 1 rather early for the K.C. crowd.

Offensively, Hunter Pence reached base four times and helped the Giants jump out to an early 3-0 lead with a first-inning two-run blast. Pablo Sandoval also tallied two hits and two RBI.

Obviously there will be speculation that the layoff between the end of the ALCS and the start of the World Series negatively affected Kansas City's mojo. After all, they had started the postseason by winning their first eight games, becoming the first team to ever start the playoffs 8-0. However, that argument doesn't hold water, seeing as how the Giants only had one less day of rest.

So, the Giants now have a 1-0 lead in the World Series. How important is that?

And with last night's victory, San Francisco is now 31-11 in the postseason since 2010.

The Royals now turn to young fireballer Yordano Ventura against veteran Jake Peavy for the Giants in Game 2. Ventura had a nERD of 1.72 and an ERA of 3.20 during the regular season, while Peavy's nERD was 1.80, with an ERA of 3.73.

Tonight's game is a virtual must-win for Kansas City. Teams that fall behind 0-2 in the World Series have gone on to lose 44 of 52 Fall Classics (although the last time the Royals won it all, 1985, that team did fall behind 0-2 and 1-3 before winning three straight). And currently, after one game, our algorithms give the Giants a near 74% chance to take home the title.

The Royals will look to start another postseason winning streak tonight.