KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A giant, indeed.
Madison Bumgarner punctuated a World Series performances for the ages by pitching the San Francisco Giants to their third title in five years with a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
The big left-hander came out of the bullpen to throw five scoreless innings on two days’ rest, saving a Series pushed to the limit. And by winning Game 7 on the road, Bumgarner and the Giants succeeded where no team had in 3 1/2 decades.
“I wasn’t thinking about innings or pitch count. I was just thinking about getting outs, getting outs, until I couldn’t get them anymore and we needed someone else,” Bumgarner said in a monotone that made it sound as though he was talking about batting practice.
A two-out misplay in the ninth almost wrecked it for him and nearly denied Spokane resident Jeremy Affeldt the Game 7 win he would get for 2 1/3 innings of relief.
Bumgarner had retired 14 in a row when Alex Gordon sent a drive to center. Bumgarner pointed his glove in the air, thinking it could be the final out, but the ball fell in front of center fielder Gregor Blanco for a single. Blanco, however, allowed it to roll past him to the wall, and left fielder Juan Perez kicked the ball before throwing to shortstop Brandon Crawford in short left, causing Gordon to hold at third.
“When it got by him, I had a smile on my face. I thought maybe I could score, but he got to it quickly enough,” Gordon said. “I just put my head down and ran, almost fell around second base, was just waiting for Jirsch (third base coach Mike Jirschele) to give me the signal. It was a good hold, he had the ball in plenty of time.”
Bumgarner, the Series MVP, then retired Salvador Perez on a foul out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval near the Giants’ dugout. The 25-year-old ace was immediately embraced by catcher Buster Posey, and the rest of the Giants rushed to the mound to join the victory party.
Three days after throwing 117 pitches in a four-hit shutout to win Game 5, Bumgarner threw 68 more and dropped his record-low career Series ERA to a barely visible 0.25.
Bumgarner initially was credited with the win. But nearly an hour after the final out, the official scorers awarded it to Affeldt, who was in the game when San Francisco took the lead.
Affeldt’s 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief was his longest outing since July 2012. He was helped by the first reversal in the Series by expanded instant replay, which gave the Giants a double play on Eric Hosmer’s grounder that second baseman Joe Panik stopped with a dive and flipped to Crawford with his glove for the relay.
Bumgarner joined Cincinnati’s Rawley Eastwick in 1975 as the only pitchers with at least two wins and a save in a World Series, and the 15-out save set a Series record.
With it all, Bumgarner etched his place in postseason lore.
Posey expected Bumgarner to throw three innings, then turn over the game to setup man Sergio Romo and closer Santiago Casilla – who threw four pitches in the entire Series.
“But he just kept rolling,” Posey said. “I mean, it’s unbelievable.”
Consecutive sacrifice flies by Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford put the Giants ahead 2-0 on the second against Jeremy Guthrie, but Tim Hudson gave the lead right back in the bottom half on Gordon’s RBI double and Omar Infante’s sacrifice fly.
Morse hit a go-ahead single in the fourth on a 99 mph fastball from reliever Kelvin Herrera to break the tie.
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