Okay, before the game, one of the pre-game color commentators mentioned that the team that scored first would probably win tonight’s game, as they had for 5 of the last 6 games. He wasn’t wrong in the least, but he certainly was wrong in his prediction as to which team that would be. The Giants thus struck first in the 2nd inning — a hit-by-pitch and 2 singles loaded the bases with no outs very quickly into the inning before two back-to-back sacrifice flies scored 2 runs and put the Giants on top 2-0.
I want to talk about what I’ve been talking about since the beginning of the postseason — the National League’s great pitching. Now, I can’t say much about tonight’s starter, who allowed the Royals to tie up the game in the 2nd inning with an RBI double and sacrifice fly to score the tying run. After another allowed single, the Giants’ starter was replaced by one of the ridiculously reliable pitchers the Giants have in their bullpen. Affeldt finished the 2nd and pitched his way rather flawlessly through the next two innings; but I’ve come to expect nothing less from him. (Fun fact: Affeldt played for the Royals briefly before eventually ending up on the 2010 Giants roster, ending up being part of the crucial bullpen that helped them win the 2010 and 2012 championship.)
The Giants responded to Affeldt’s strong outing in the 4th inning. Two singles and a fly out put runners on the corners, one of which would score on a single and put the Giants on top 3-2. In the meantime, the Giants’ wicked defense just kept any Royals’ attempt at some small ball curbed. There was one particular double play in the 3rd that had the 2nd baseman diving to stop the ball, flipping it to the shortstop for the out at 2nd, before the ball was thrown to the waiting 1st baseman. Initially, the runner was ruled safe, but upon a challenge and review, it was overturned and declared a double play. It was one of those highlight reel moments.
And then in the 5th inning, the Giants brought out Bumgarner, who normally is one of their starters, but truly a fantastic work horse. Bumgarner was willing to do whatever was necessary to help his team win tonight. And backed by their impressive defense, Bumgarner went an impressive 5 innings, giving up just 2 hits but no runs and no walks, striking out 4 Royals’ batters.
The only time the Royals really even threatened once the bullpen was on the mound was in the bottom of the 9th. The entire sold-out crowd in Kansas City was on their feet. The ocean of blues deafeningly praying for a miracle, the smattering of orange praying for a quick 3 outs. Two outs in, it looked like it was almost settled. But then a Royals’ batter hit the ball into left-center field for a single, but the outfielder mishandled the ball and the runner ended up at 3rd on the error. Both sets of fans’ heavenly petitions only increased in fervency. But for one team, it was not to be as a pop up to the Giants’ gregarious 3rd baseman (Sandoval, affectionately known to his fans as “Panda”) put an end to the City of Fountains’ dreams of a championship. He collapsed on the field; the air and enthusiasm sucked out of the stadium as it empties in disappointment rather quickly; the smattering of orange joining the cheering of fans not in Kansas City tonight; and the Giants stormed the field in celebration.
Bumgarner earned the save (Affeldt earned the win) and even set a new record for most innings pitched in the postseason at 48 2/3 and now has the lowest postseason ERA at 0.25. I should also remind everyone at this point that Bumgarner is also only 25 years old, with plenty of years left to further his career and record. I’m not one for making comparisons, but it was at times like watching a young Andy Pettitte (maybe it’s the left-handed thing) and how he helped dominate the postseason in those early Yankee years nearly 20 years ago. (And in that vein, I’ll take this time to put in my opinion: what does it take to get Bumgarner to pitch for the Yankees when his contract is up in San Francisco and can you please make that happen soon?)
Bumgarner, Affeldt, and Sandoval are just a few of the many players that have been part of the team’s drive to win their 3rd championship in 5 years — 2010, 2012, and now 2014. (Perhaps the Giants just like even years? Must be one of those baseball superstition things.) Bumgarner was also awarded the World Series MVP Award, which included a special trophy and a brand new truck from Chevy (one of the major sponsors of MLB and the World Series). But really, this is so well-deserved that I think many people were already campaigning for him to receive the MVP award by the 7th inning; I know I was.
(Note to those keeping track of my postseason predictions: I was right, sans number of games again. I out-predicted most broadcasters and reporters. I may be a little competitive, but I guess you could tell as I write about competitive sports and I like winning. But who doesn’t like winning?)
World Series Game 7: Giants over Royals 3-2, Giants win Series 4-3
Today’s edition of “This Day in Yankees History” takes us back almost a century ago to 1920. The year after their landmark acquisition of Babe Ruth, the Yankees hired his former manager Ed Barrow to be the Yankees’ General Manager (then known as the Business Manager). Barrow would go on to compose the team that would start the legendary years of the Yankees’ first dynasty and the roster that became known as “Murderers’ Row” (1927). The team under Barrow would win 14 AL pennants and 10 World Series championships over his nearly 25 year tenure. One of Barrow’s latter deals included the signing of a young outfielder named Joe DiMaggio. Essentially, this day 94 years ago changed the course of the Yankees and their historical impact on baseball and this country for the next century with a simple smart hiring.
A big congratulations to the Giants on their win. But be warned: the Yankees are coming after you in 2015. I mean, it will be an odd-numbered year, and we all know you don’t like to win in those…