Bumgarner primed to hand Giants a World Series lead in Game 5

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Some sporting events – the 2005 Ashes series, Liverpool’s Champions League win that same year and the Ryder Cup’s Miracle at Medinah –are dubbed great while the drama is still unfolding. This World Series between the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants is the same.

Like two heavyweights slugging it out punch-for-punch, these two ball clubs have refused to let the other get away from them, with the Giants showing the latest signs of stubbornness in levelling the series 2-2.

Their 11-2 win in Game 4 ensures the series will return to Kansas for at least one of the final two matches, with a nail-biting, series-deciding Game 7 all the more likely to be needed.

First though, Game 5 needs to be played and both franchises call on their number one pitchers to return to the mound for the clash.

Madison Bumgarner defeated the Royals’ James Shields when the pair opened the series, and it’s the delightfully named Giant who is handed favouritism when they do battle again in San Fran’s AT&T Park.

Ladbrokes go 20/33 that the hosts take a 3-2 lead on the road to Kansas with them and that certainly looks wise considering the form of their 25-year-old ace.

Bumgarner’s dominance over left-handed hitters was evident in Game 1 as he cut the supply to the Royals’ batting heartbeat (lefties Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas) with just one run and three hits over seven innings.

But while the North Carolina slinger has every reason to feel buoyed on his reappearance, a struggling Shields returns in a vulnerable state.

Batters have accumulated 15 runs off 28 hits against Shields this postseason, with the pitcher handing out six walks and just 16 strikeouts in his 19 innings. That he’s been working on correcting his mechanics during his rest period is a worrying sign and is plenty enough reason to side with the favourites.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.