KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants succeeded where no team had in 3 1/2 decades, winning Game 7 on the road for their third World Series title in five years.
Punctuating one of the finest October performances in baseball history, Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to pitch five scoreless innings on two days’ rest for his third win of the Series, and the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Wednesday night in a championship pushed to the limit.
A two-out misplay in the ninth almost wrecked it for Bumgarner and the Giants. He had retired 14 in a row when Alex Gordon’s single fell in front of center fielder Gregor Blanco, who let the ball get past him for an error that allowed Gordon to reach third.
Bumgarner calmly retired Salvador Perez on a foulout to third Pedro Sandoval. Bumgarner was immediately embraced by catcher Buster Posey, and rest of the Giants rushed to the mound to join the victory party. Most of the San Francisco players tossed their gloves high in the air as they ran to the center of the diamond.
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.
He joined Arizona ace Randy Johnson (2001) as the only pitchers in the expansion era to win three games in one Series.
The Giants were dubbed a “Band of Misfits” in 2010 when they beat Texas to win the franchise’s first title since 1954 in New York. Two years later, they swept Detroit for another championship.
And this time, keeping up their every-other-year success, the Giants became just the second NL team with three titles in a five-year span, matching Stan Musial’s St. Louis Cardinals of 1942-46.
Home teams had won nine straight Game 7s in the Series since Pittsburgh’s victory at Baltimore in 1979, including the Royals’ 11-0 rout of St. Louis in 1985. Teams hosting the first two games had won 23 of the last 28 titles, including five in a row. And the Giants had lost all four of their previous World Series pushed to the limit.
But before a pumped-up, blue-and-white-clad crowd of 40,535 that hoped noise and passion could lift the small-market Royals to a title that seemed improbable when Kansas City was languishing two games under .500 in mid-July, the Giants won the second all-wild card World Series, 12 years after losing Game 7 to the Angels in the first.
Both managers promised quick hooks if their starters showed the slightest signs of faltering, and both managers delivered as Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie combined for 15 outs — matching the fewest by Game 7 starters. Hudson, at 39 the oldest Game 7 starter, allowed two runs in 1 2-3 innings. The 35-year-old Guthrie took the loss, giving up three runs in 3 1-3 innings
Jeremy Affeldt followed Hudson with 2 1-3 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief in his longest outing since July 2012, getting help from the first successful replay challenge in World Series history.
With his shaggy hair making him look every bit a gunslinger, Bumgarner entered to boos in the bottom of the fifth, coated his long arms with rosin and groomed the pocked-up mound with his spikes.
He gave up an opposite-field single to his first batter, Omar Infante, who advanced on a sacrifice. Bumgarner retired Nori Aoki on a liner near the left-field line that was grabbed by Juan Perez, starting over Travis Ishikawa because of his defense. Bumgarner then struck out Lorenzo Cain.
He retired the side in order in the sixth, seven and eighth, increasing his pitch count to 52. With loud chants of “Let’s Go Royals!” echoing through Kauffman Stadium, he struck out Eric Hosmer to open the ninth after falling behind 0-2, then retired Billy Butler on a foulout to bring up Gordon.
The 25-year-old Bumgarner allowed two hits, struck out four and walked none. He pitched 52 2-3 postseason innings, 4 1-3 more than the previous mark set by Arizona’s Curt Schilling in 2001, and finished with 270 innings combined, including the regular season.
Voted the Series MVP, MadBum became king of SoMa, and from Nob Hill to North Beach, from The Marina to The Mission, San Francisco celebrated another title won by Kung Fu Panda and Hunter Pence.
Pence batted .444 in the Series and Sandoval, a free-agent-to-be playing perhaps his last game for the Giants, finished at .429 following a three-hit night. In an era when pitching and computer-aided defense has supplanted steroids-saturated sluggers, baseball’s dominant team established itself in the tech-fueled, boomtown by the Bay.
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