Once upon a time… it was every baseball fan’s dream. Game 7 of the 2014 World Series between the surprising Kansas City Royals and the even-year San Francisco Giants. On the mound for the AL champions was Jeremy Guthrie going up against the veteran Tim Hudson. With all the cards on the table, Bruce Bochy and the Giants would’ve loved to have their ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound. Unfortunately for them, Bumgarner had already pitched games 1 and 5 for a total of 16 innings and wouldn’t be able to pitch on two days rest…right?
The ace had previously approached manager Bruce Bochy and told him “Look, if you need me, in fact, i’ll be good to go”. Question was, how many innings could he go? A stubborn workhorse like Bumgarner would’ve said nine. I mean it was Game 7. Realistically, Bochy had multiple options. Long reliever Yusmeiro Petit and Game 4 starter Ryan Vogelsong were available for a couple of innings. Have them take you to the 7th where Jeremy Affeldt can give you a solid inning followed by an 8th inning setup by Sergio Romo and closer Santiago Casilla to take you home. Or you can have Bumgarner come in when needed and have him win you the game..
Giants opened up the scoring in the 2nd inning with back to back sac flys by Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford but the Royals came back and quickly tied it off a struggling Tim Hudson who left after just 1.2 innings pitched. In to replace him was veteran Jeremy Affeldt who was able to keep the score tied at 2.
Lorenzo Cain got on base for the Royals to open up the 3rd but a sensational double play by Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford prevented any further danger for San Francisco.
Later on in the 4th, Michael Morse once again came up massive for the Giants with an RBI single that allowed Sandoval to score and gave the Giants a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the 4th.
With the Giants tightly holding on to the one run lead, it was time for Bruce Bochy to bring out the big guns. Into the game came Mr Postseason himself, Madison Bumgarner. Who else would you bring in this situation? Pitching on just two days rest, his arm would definitely be tested.
On that October 29th, 2014, I witnessed Bumgarner go from an elite pitcher to a near immortal pitcher who apparently didn’t need rest like the rest of us humans. He came in and completely dominated the Royals. Five innings pitched, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB and 4 SO. After every inning you would get this sense of “Ok, I know he’s great but how long can he go? Let’s not push our luck”.
At first, it was believed that he would simply come in and just give us a couple of innings just until we could get some another reliever to come take over. But one thing about Bumgarner is, he hates being taken out. Once he gets rolling he gets rolling. So as the innings wore on and the anxiety occupied fan’s minds, it became clear that there was one man needed at that time and he was pitching his heart out.
Ironically, one of the only two hits he gave up was in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Gordon came in and hit one out to centerfield which could’ve been a doable play for Gregor Blanco. Weirdly enough, the ball skipped over his glove and Gordon got all the way to third. Now, after an incredible 4.2 innings pitched, Bumgarner was a single away from blowing the lead. Eventually Salvador Perez flew out to Pablo Sandoval who collapsed on foul territory as the celebrations begun once again for San Francisco.
The third title in six years but this one with a different taste. 2010 had been the year of the torture, 2012 had been the year of the comebacks and now 2014 had been the year of Bumgarner. A performance for the history books by the great Bumgarner who on just two days rest, completed a five-inning save to win Game 7 of the 2014 World Series.