RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A six-pack won’t be enough for Madison Bumgarner if the San Francisco Giants win the World Series.
The Giants ace chugged four beers after beating Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game, upped the count to five following the NL Division Series clincher against Washington and six when San Francisco won the NL Championship Series over St. Louis.
“I don’t know if I can hold any more than that,” he said after earning the NLCS MVP award last week. “I had to keep it going, though. We’ll see if we keep winning. We don’t want to change anything up.”
Bumgarner starts the World Series opener on Tuesday night as the Giants try to become the first NL team to win three World Series titles in a five-year span since the St. Louis Cardinals of 1942-46. James Shields goes for the Royals, back in the Series for the first time since winning the 1985 title.
Just 25, Bumgarner already is 2-0 with 15 shutout innings in Series play and is 2-1 in four starts this postseason with a 1.42 ERA. He followed Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez as a rookie in the 2010 Series. He pitched three-hit ball over eight innings in a 4-0 Game 4 win at Texas that put San Francisco within of its first title since 1954.
Two years later, he pitched after Barry Zito and allowed two hits over seven innings in a 2-0 win at AT&T Park in Game 2 as the Giants swept Detroit.
Now, with Cain sidelined since the All-Star break because of an elbow injury that needed surgery, the left-hander has become the ace. A native of Hickory, North Carolina, Bumgarner has a farm with horses and cattle. He is said to have given his wife a cow ahead of their wedding.
Bumgarner is part of a Southerner corner contingent of pitchers in the Giants’ clubhouse that includes Georgian Tim Hudson and Alabamian Jake Peavy. Bumgarner takes the mound to the Marshall Tucker Band’s “Fire on the Mountain.”
“Our locker room definitely took a step toward the redneck side at the start of this year, that’s for sure — in a good way,” Hudson said. “I think every team needs a little redneck in them.”
And manager Bruce Bochy, while born in France, spent time living in North Carolina and Florida. Grits are served to players ahead of day games.
“I like my rednecks, they’re a good bunch of guys,” Bochy said. “They come out, they get after it and play the game right. It’s a very diverse group. … We do have a unique group of rednecks.”
Shields, a 32-year-old right-hander, also is unbeaten and unscored on in the Series: He pitched Tampa Bay to its lone win in 2008 when he allowed seven hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-2 victory over Philadelphia. Kansas City acquired him from the Rays in December 2013, hoping he would help transform a young team into a contender.
“He’s kind of just turned the clubhouse around, really,” manager Ned Yost said. “He brought a definite winner’s attitude with him, and he’s not only molded but he’s mentored our players in that fact.”
Shields is 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA this offseason. He told the Kansas City Star he passed a kidney stone last week during the ALCS.
“I haven’t pitched the way I wanted to. There is no doubt about it,” he said. “So I’m a big believer in amnesia. I’ve been doing it my whole entire career.”
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.
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