The 2014 World Series taught us one thing: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner is the real deal. That is the only logical explanation for what we witnessed from the Giants’ ace left-hander, who cemented himself in baseball history while finishing off the Kansas City Royals in a blood pumping Game Seven victory.
After Bumgarner pitched a complete game shutout in Game Five to give San Francisco a 3-2 lead in the series, he returned with only two days’ rest in the fifth inning of Game Seven. Most people watching expected him to pitch only an inning or two given his short rest and third appearance in the seven game series. Well, he did much more than that; he pitched the distance.
Going five innings of scoreless baseball, he earned the save to give the Giants their third world championship in five years. In three World Series games pitched, Bumgarner won two with a 0.43 ERA (Earned Run Average) which capped one of the best performances in the history of the fall classic.
That was the first time in MLB history a pitcher came in and pitched five-plus innings in the postseason on only two days’ rest. What is truly amazing about this is he didn’t just pitch; he dominated. He kept the speedy Royals off the bases and off balance from the first pitch in the fifth to the last in the ninth. His dominance doesn’t stop there; he also broke the record for most innings ever pitched in a postseason with 52.3 innings. He only allowed one earned run and his 0.43 ERA in the Fall Classic is the best since Sandy Koufax’s 0.38 earned run average (ERA) in 1965.
Though, the Giants did not win the Series’ only because of Bumgarner. Performances of Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval should not be lost. Pence went a crucial 2-for-4, finishing with a .444 batting average. While soon-to-be free agent Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-3, scored two runs, and in the process, made MLB history. He had 26 hits this postseason which is the most for a hitter in a single postseason.
With Wednesday night’s victory, the Giants also became the only road team to win Game Seven of the World Series since the historic 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. In the first time in over a decade, a franchise has captured three World Series titles in five seasons. Despite this unprecedented success, the Giants have remained unrecognized by the baseball world making the team a prominent force in the years to come. Manager Bruce Bochy has been at the helm for all three championship teams since 2010 and may look to focus on how to sustain the team’s core that has brought them to this point.
They were never the favorites to win, and will remain the dark horse sitting in the National League in 2015. They beat a very good Royals’ ball club and credit is due. Kansas City has budding stars in outfielder Lorenzo Cain and starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, and the way manager Ned Yost leads the team, it seems they will be here to stay in the American League. They have a dominant bullpen consisting of closer Greg Holland and dominant set-up men Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera in addition to a talented rotation which included Ventura, ace James Shields and left-hander Jason Vargas.
Overall, baseball fans have to respect a player that will hustle down the line on every play and will turn on an extra gear late in the game to get to the ball in the gap. That was the epitome of both teams, and that is why they were the last two teams standing.
This World Series was truly special, and with the latest reports of the TV ratings being at an all-time low is a travesty. The two hardest working teams battled all season long and both were in it until the final pitches of the season.
James Belluscio can be reached at email@example.com