Travis Ishikawa sends Giants to World Series on walk-off three-run homer

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The Giants are headed to the World Series for the third time in the past five seasons.

Travis Ishikawa launched a walk-off three-run homer off Michael Wacha in the bottom of the ninth inning this evening to lead the Giants to a dramatic 6-3 win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. They will now move on to face the Royals in the World Series, which will begin Tuesday night in Kansas City.

The game-winning rally was set up in curious fashion, as Michael Wacha entered the game to make his first appearance since September 26. He quickly gave up a leadoff single to Pablo Sandoval before Hunter Pence flew out to right field. Wacha then walked Brandon Belt on four pitches before Ishikawa pulled a pitch over the right field fence to punch the Giants’ ticket to the World Series. Ishikawa misplayed a fly ball in the third inning to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead, but it’s safe to say that he redeemed himself with his Bobby Thomson moment.

The Cardinals actually had the lead in this game going into the bottom of the eighth inning, as Adam Wainwright gave up just two runs over seven innings in a gritty performance, but Michael Morse evened things up with a pinch-hit solo homer off Pat Neshek. The Cardinals loaded the bases against Santiago Casilla in the top of the ninth before Giants manager Bruce Bochy turned to Jeremy Affeldt to get Oscar Taveras to ground out to end the scoring threat.

The Giants didn’t have a home run over the first four games of the series, but the long ball accounted for all six of their runs tonight. This included a two-run blast from Joe Panik in the bottom of the third inning. Madison Bumgarner gave up three runs over eight innings of work and retired the final 13 batters he faced.

This is the first time since 2002 (Angels-Giants) that two Wild Card teams will meet in the World Series. And naturally, it’s the first time it has happened since the newest Wild Card format came into play. What a postseason. Here’s hoping it still has some magic left.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”