KANSAS CITY: Sparked by Madison Bumgarner’s historic pitching performance on only two days’ rest, San Francisco won their third World Series in five seasons by beating Kansas City 3-2 on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
The Giants won Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final 4-3, winning their eighth overall championship and following up 2010 and 2012 titles by taking an intense winner-take-all showdown that was dramatic to the last play.
Bumgarner, a 25-year-old left-hander who mystified Royals batters in winning games two and five, pitched five scoreless relief innings, striking out four while allowing only two hits and throwing 50 of his 68 pitches for strikes on career-low rest to earn unanimous Most Valuable Player honors.
“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,” Bumgarner said.
“Right now I’m not tired at all,” he added. “We just won the World Series.”
Bumgarner, originally credited with the game-seven win before an official scorer’s change gave him only a save and handed Jeremy Affeldt the win, allowed only one run in 21 World Series innings with 17 strikeouts and only one walk.
“Truly incredible what he did,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I just can’t believe what he accomplished.”
Royals manager Ned Yost, whose team fell one game short of its first title since 1985 in its first playoff trip in 29 years, could only marvel at Bumgarner’s masterful effort, saying it felt “hopeless” when “MadBum” was on the mound.
“What can you say about him?” Yost said, dubbing his MVP selection “a no-brainer.”
In 36 career World Series innings, Bumgarner has a record-low earned-run average of 0.25 and his 52 2/3 playoff innings pitched this month was a record, breaking the old mark of 48 1/3 by Curt Schilling in 2001.
San Francisco plated the deciding run in the fourth inning when Pablo Sandoval singled, advanced on a Hunter Pence single and a Brandon Belt sacrifice fly and scored on a Michael Morse single.
That set up the dramatic entry of Bumgarner, who took the mound in the fifth inning for his first relief stint since 2010. Royals fans raised the volume of their supportive chants, sensing a crucial moment.
Omar Infante tagged Bumgarner for a single to right, but Bumgarner retired the next 14 batters he faced. Infante reached second on Alcides Escobar’s sacrifice bunt, but Nori Aoki flew out and Lorenzo Cain struck out to end the threat.
‘Just kept rolling’
After Bumgarner retired the heart of the Royals’ batting order on fly outs in the sixth, sent down the bottom of the lineup in order in the seventh and baffled the beginning batters a second time to conclude the eighth inning, the Giants were only three outs from a title.
“He just kept rolling,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “It’s unbelievable. Everybody could see how good he was. They weren’t putting great swings on him. I can’t say enough about how hard it is to do what he just did. It’s incredible.”
Bumgarner struck out Eric Hosmer in the ninth and induced a Billy Butler fly out, but one strike from victory, Alex Gordon hit a single that was misplayed by Giants centerfielder Gregor Blanco and the ball rolled to the outfield wall, allowing Gordon to reach third base and building the tension.
“I was starting to get a little nervous,” Bumgarner admitted. “It was a little nerve-wracking.”
But Bumgarner induced a fly out by Salvador Perez to end the game and touch off a wild on-field Giants celebration.
“It’s unbelievable. He’s a different human being,” said Pence, whose 12-for-27 batting effort was the third-best in Series history.
Giants defy history
History had favored the Royals as home teams had won the previous nine World Series game sevens, no road team having taken a one-game showdown for the crown since Pittsburgh at Baltimore in 1979,
The Giants entered 0-4 in winner-take-all World Series games, having lost final title contests in 1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002.
They became the first World Series road team since the 1975 Cincinnati Reds to lose game six but recover to win game seven.
When faced with playoff elimination, the Giants have won eight games in a row and have won 10 playoff matchups in a row over the past five years, one shy of the New York Yankees’ all-time record.
The Giants, whose 10-0 drubbing in game six was their most lopsided playoff loss since 1951, opened the scoring in the second inning, Morse and Brandon Crawford driving in runs with sacrifice fly outs for a 2-0 lead.
Kansas City equalized in the second, Butler singling and scoring on a double by Gordon, who later scored on Infante’s sacrifice fly.