How do you spell relief? B-U-M-G-A-R-N-E-R. Tonight, in a must win for everyone, the San Francisco Giants’ prudent pitching plan paid off, as they edged Kansas City in game seven of the World Series, robbing the Royals of their storybook ending.
The Guthrie/Hudson rematch was another night of who can last the longest. Guthrie won that battle, but unfortunately, lost his breaking ball, and was booted by the 4th inning.
In a dramatic offensive and defensive duel, it could have been anyone’s for the taking, but Pablo Sandoval, in what appears to be his last season in San Francisco, continued to be a royal wrecking machine. He connected on pitches miles from the strike zone, and was a factor in almost every play.
The first inning was 1,2,3 for Guthrie, whose breaking ball, seemed like it was going to be his bread and butter. Hudson, the sentimental favorite, put two on base, but after a fielder’s choice, he struck out Hosmer, swinging.
The Giants got on the scoreboard first in the 2nd with the killer combo of Panda, who took one on the elbow, and Pence, who singled to center. Belt moved his boys into scoring position with a shot to right, loading them up for this postseason’s best damn DH, Michael Morse, whose sac fly brought Sandoval home, and great base running, put Pence on third. Crawford added another sac fly, and the Giants jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Billy Butler belted a single to center, scoring on Gordon’s double to right. Perez took a pitch that got away, to his thigh, falling to the ground, giving the fans a, may have to leave the game, Yadier Molina scare. Much time was taken for him to shake it off, which unfortunately, he never actually did. Moustakas flew out to left, allowing Gordon to tag to third. Infante tied the score with a sac fly to center. Escobar’s line drive past a diving Crawford kicked Hudson into to the dugout, and who knows how much more damage the Royals may have made if Perez wasn’t gimped out at first. Affeldt came in relief and got Aoki on a high chopper fielded brilliantly by Crawford, who beat Escobar to the bag at second.
Guthrie kept the score even in the 3rd eliminating Blanco on a ground ball, then struck out Panik and Posey, looking, and swinging.
Affeldt’s job at this point was all about keeping Kansas City quiet until Bumgarner was given the keys to drive this baby home. Cain fouled off a flurry pitches, then flared one to right center field. Then, it what may have been the turning point in determining who would be drinking champagne, Panik, on Hosmer’s shot to the hole, slid, grabbed, then flipped the ball from his glove to Crawford’s, getting the force at second. Crawford rifled it to Belt who tagged Hosmer sliding to the bag at first, in what appeared to be the double play of the year. But Hosmer was called safe, which Bochy had reviewed, and when the headphones were removed it was ruled an out, making it the first time in World Series history that a play was overturned.
Guthrie’s breaking ball, broke in the 4th and Sandoval and Pence took full advantage with back-to-back singles. Belt flied out to left, and Sandoval’s keen sense of making the most out of an out, tagged and went to third. With runners on first and third with one out, Guthrie found himself out of a job, and was replaced by Kelvin Herrera. Michael Morse then feasted on a 0-2 fastball, singling to right, bringing in Sandoval for the go ahead run. Herrera then got Crawford on a called strike three, and Perez on a ground out to short.
Affeldt hit Gordon to start the 4th, but got out of the inning by not allowing Perez or Moustakis to hit him.
Herrera was true to form in the top of the 5th getting Blanco to line out to left, then shut the door on Panik and Posey with back to back strikeouts. In the bottom of the inning, Bumgarner finally arrived on two days rest. When his long lean body exited the bullpen, with his gloved hand down by his side, he gave off the appearance of a gunslinger, ready for battle. You could almost hear the Sergio Leone soundtrack. On his third pitch, Infante ignited the crowd with a lead off single to right. Escobar then put him in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. The Royals seemed to be open for business, but that was quickly thwarted when Aoki flied to left, and Cain struck out, chasing everything out of the strike zone.
In the top of the 6th, Herrera gave up singles to Sandoval and Belt, but left unscathed striking out Morse with a called strike three. In the bottom of the inning, Bumgarner retired the side in order, and with nine outs left on their meter; the Royals were rapidly, running out of time.
Wade Davis entered in the top of this 7th packing heat, striking out Crawford and Perez, and got Blanco on a ground out to short. Bumgarner had 0-2 counts on all three batters, but unlike the Giants, the Royals could not hit to save their World Series lives.
In the top of the 8th, Sandoval got his third hit, making Brian Sabean sad that he’s going to be a free agent. But he got the best of Panik, Posey and Pence. Bumgarner maintained his 92 MPH fastball in the bottom of the inning, retiring the side in order.
Greg Holland kept it a one run game in the top of the 9th, getting Belt on a ground ball, then mowed down Morse and Crawford with called strike threes.
In the top of the 9th, it was last licks for the Royals, but after Hosmer struck out, and Butler fouled out to first, it seemed very grim until Gordon’s clutch single to center, and Blanco’s botched defensive play, put him on third. If he had the speed of Puig, he may have had an inside the parker, but he wasn’t and right now he needed help getting home. And who was his chance of getting him there? Perez. Yes, Salvador Perez. The guy who took Bumgarner deep in game one. But you see, wasn’t swinging the bat so well because he got drilled in the leg. So, with the home crowd on their feet, hoping for a miracle, praying he does a Kirk Gibson out of the park, he popped up in foul territory, and just as if it were written, landing right into the glove of Pablo Sandoval for the final out.
As a baseball fan, with no emotional investment in either team, I was hoping the Royals were going to take their seven game winning streak into the World Series and blow the Giants out of McCovey Cove. But, on the flip side, I’m glad Tim Hudson got the elusive ring he missed out on with two teams who achieved that feat when he wasn’t there. Throughout this postseason Kansas City definitely proved that they are royal, but unfortunately, tonight, as George Brett had hoped for, they didn’t get to party like it was 1985.