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Giants' ace Bumgarner finishes it in Game 7

by The Associated Press | October 30, 2014 at 3:38 a.m.
San Francisco pitcher Madison Bumgarner (right) celebrates with catcher Buster Posey as teammates rush the field after Bumgarner saved the 3-2 victory over Kansas City on Wednesday night, giving the Giants their third series title in five years. Bumgarner was named the MVP after recording victories in Games 1 and 5.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A giant, indeed.

Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon (4) walks off the field as San Francisco players celebrate a 3-2 victory in Game 7 of the World Series, giving the Giants a third championship in five years. Gordon was on third after hitting a single to center and advancing on a two-base error.

Madison Bumgarner punctuated one of the finest World Series performances in baseball history by pitching the San Francisco Giants to their third title in five years with a 3-2 victory 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 World 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," Bumgarner said in a monotone that made it sound as though he was talking about batting practice. "I was just thinking about getting outs, getting outs, until I couldn't get them anymore and we needed someone else."

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. Left fielder Juan Perez hustled back to the wall and retrieved the ball in time to hold Gordon at third.

"When it got by him, I had a smile on my face," Gordon said. "I thought maybe I could score, but he got to it quickly enough. I just put my head down and ran, almost fell around second base, was just waiting for [third base coach Mike Jirschele] to give me the signal.

"It was a good hold. He had the ball in plenty of time."

Bumgarner then retired Salvador Perez on a foul-out to third baseman Pedro Sandoval. The big left-hander was immediately embraced by catcher Buster Posey, and the 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 World Series ERA to 0.25.

Bumgarner initially was credited with the victory, but nearly an hour after the final out the official scorers switched up and decided on Jeremy Affeldt, who was in the game when San Francisco took the lead. Bumgarner earned a save instead.

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 World Series.

"He just kept rolling," Posey said. "I mean, it's unbelievable."

Michael Morse hit a go-ahead single in the fourth that stood up, and the Giants eked out a battle of the bullpens on a night when both starting pitchers made unusually quick exits.

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.

This time, they became the second National League team with three titles in a five-year span, matching Stan Musial's St. Louis Cardinals of 1942-46.

Every other year -- it's the closest thing to a dynasty baseball has seen in the 21st century.

Home teams had won nine consecutive Game 7s in the World 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 past 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. Guthrie, 35, took the loss, giving up three runs in 3 1/3 innings

Affeldt followed Hudson with 2 1/3 innings of 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, then retired Billy Butler on a foul-out to bring up Gordon.

Bumgarner, 25, 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.

"Yeah, it was hopeless," Royals Manager Ned Yost said.

Sports on 10/30/2014

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Print Headline: Bum-wrapped


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