Wednesday, October 29, 2014

San Francisco Giants: 2014 World Series Champions

KANSAS CITY -- The names roll smoothly off the tongue, for they have become legendary. Willie Mays. Willie McCovey. Barry Bonds. Juan Marichal. Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell. Mel Ott. Each occupies a hallowed spot in the pantheon of Giants franchise greats. Add another to this distinguished group: Madison Bumgarner.
The 25-year-old left-hander joined this distinguished group Wednesday night by completing a World Series performance that just might rank as the finest by a Giant in the club history. He garnished his victories in Games 1 and 5 with five shutout innings of relief to earn the save in Game 7 to help San Francisco outlast the Kansas City Royals, 3-2. The decision sealed the Giants' third World Series triumph in five seasons.
"Right now, I'm not tired at all," said Bumgarner, who came on in relief of winning pitcher Jeremy Affeldt. "We just won the World Series. It's hard to be tired right now. Probably tomorrow I'll be tired, though."

After the Giants scored what proved to be the winning run in the fourth inning on Michael Morse's RBI single, Kansas City used three relievers to blank the Giants over the final five innings -- something Bumgarner did all by himself on two days' rest after pitching a four-hit shutout in Game 5.
"He was throwing so well, there was no way I could take him out," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Just get on him and ride him. Again, it's just amazing what he did. The innings were easy, and we had his pitch count about where he ended, and he said he was exhausted at the end."
Bumgarner's effort was nothing short of remarkable. He yielded a single to the first batter he faced, Omar Infante, before proceeding to retire the next 14 batters he faced.
Then, with the Giants one out from victory, Alex Gordon lined a single to left-center field on an 0-1 pitch. After the ball skipped past center fielder Gregor Blanco, left fielder Juan Perez struggled to pick it up as Gordon raced to third base.
That didn't faze Bumgarner. Salvador Perez popped a 2-2 pitch into foul ground outside of third base, where Pablo Sandoval made a careful, two-handed catch before falling backward in ecstasy. The Giants, many of whom played on the Series-winning teams of 2010 and '12, flooded the field in celebration.
Bumgarner became the first left-hander to pitch at least four innings in Game 7 of the World Series on two days' rest since the illustrious Sandy Koufax beat the Minnesota Twins in 1965.
"He's incredible," said Morse, who drove in two runs. "He's incredible. He's a different human being. Yesterday, I told him, 'If you're going to go out there tomorrow, you better bring it.' And he said, 'Just watch me.' This guy, every start, he gets better and better. And this is what you get. What you see, is what you get." 
MadBum keeps dominating: Three days removed from a shutout in Game 5, Madison Bumgarner has delivered a relief appearance for the ages, conjuring up memories of Pedro Martinez in the 1999 American League Division Series by blanking the Giants from the start of the fifth through the end of the eighth.
Bumgarner gave up a leadoff single to Omar Infante, then retired the next 12 batters in order, requiring only 52 pitches to twirl four scoreless innings. The Giants' ace has given up all of one run in 20 innings in the World Series, setting him up to be the Most Valuable Player of the Fall Classic if the Giants finish it off.

Fire on the mountain: Madison Bumgarner began his much-anticipated relief appearance in the fifth inning of Game 7, recording three outs to pass Curt Schilling for the most innings (48 2/3) in a single postseason.
It wasn't all smooth; Bumgarner gave up a leadoff single to Omar Infante and a sacrifice bunt to Alcides Escobar before Juan Perez -- starting in left over natural first baseman Travis Ishikawa -- made a running stab of Nori Aoki's line drive to prevent the tying run from scoring. Bumgarner then struck outLorenzo Cain to break Schilling's record, which stood for 13 years.
That sent Game 7 into the sixth inning, with the Giants clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Bullpens, assemble: Both starting pitchers were out of Game 7 before three and a half innings were complete. Giants righty Tim Hudson was taken out, replaced by lefty Jeremy Affeldt, with two outs in the bottom of the second. And with one out and runners on the corners in the top of the fourth, Royals rightyJeremy Guthrie was pulled in favor of righty Kelvin Herrera -- the Royals' typical seventh-inning guy.
Herrera proceeded to give up an RBI single to Michael Morse, giving the Giants a 3-2 lead, then struck out Brandon Crawford and got Juan Perez to ground out, limiting the damage. Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence started the inning with back-to-back singles, making them a combined 22-for-51 in this World Series (a .431 batting average).

Replay! It did not take long for instant replay to have an impact on Game 7.
With Lorenzo Cain on first base and one out in the third, Giants second baseman Joe Panik made a terrific diving stop of Eric Hosmer's ground ball near the bag, flipping it with his glove to Brandon Crawford for the inning's first out. Crawford then set his eyes on first base, delivering the ball there just as Hosmer slid in headfirst.
First-base umpire Eric Cooper initially called Hosmer safe, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy challenged and umpires reversed the ruling following a two-minute, 57-second review. It was the second replay review in World Series history, following an unsuccessful Ned Yost challenge in Game 4.
Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt recorded a quick third out from there, moving a 2-2 game into the fourth.
Royals back in business: Moments after the Giants took a two-run lead in the top of the second, the Royals tied it up, took Tim Hudson out of the game and almost lost their Gold Glove catcher.
Billy Butler led off the bottom of the second with a sharp single up the middle, then motored around the bases to barely score on Alex Gordon's liner in the right-center-field gap, a double that gave Gordon only his fourth hit in 25 at-bats this World Series.
On the next pitch, Hudson's 89-mph cutter caught Salvador Perez on the side of the left knee. Perez had a hard time getting up, and initially couldn't put any weight on his left leg, but he gingerly made his way toward first and remained in the game.
Gordon then tagged and went to third on Mike Moustakas' flyout to left field and scored on a liner to center field by Omar Infante. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt replaced Hudson after Alcides Escobar's single, then retired the left-handed-hitting Nori Aoki on a chopper that shortstop Brandon Crawford fielded right on top of second for the forceout.
One night after Jake Peavy recorded four outs, Hudson recorded just five.

Two Giant runs: Considering how strong these two bullpens are, both managers spoke to the importance of jumping out to an early lead in Game 7. The Giants were the ones who actually did it, parlaying a bases-loaded, no-outs rally into a two-run second inning.
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie opened the second by loading the bases on a hit batsman and two singles. Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford then hit consecutive sacrifice flies, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead. By the time the rally ended, left-hander Brandon Finnegan was already warming up in Kansas City's bullpen.
Everybody up: For 28 consecutive years, they suffered through losing seasons and empty Octobers, waiting, anticipating, a night like this. And from the moment the first pitch of Game 7 came in at 7:11 p.m. CT, it was evident. A sold-out Kauffman Stadium crowd stood on its collective feet the entire first inning, basking in a windless 55-degree night while living and dying with each pitch.
They roared when Gregor Blanco flew out to center field to start the game, went nuts when Mike Moustakas made a diving play on Buster Posey's sharp grounder, completing a 1-2-3 first for Jeremy Guthrie, and began waiving towels after Nori Aoki's one-out walk in the bottom half. Royals fans finally sat down after Lorenzo Cain's fielder's-choice groundout and Eric Hosmer's swinging strikeout ended the first -- but only momentarily.
Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.