Madison Bumgarner pitches the Giants to their third World Series win in five seasons

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KANSAS CITY — It’s a cliche that someone in some P.R. office came up with, but in Madison Bumgarner’s case it’s true: October is when legends are born.

The Giants ace came out of the bullpen after four innings and, on two days rest, absolutely dazzled. He pitched five innings, allowed only two hits didn’t walk anyone and struck out four while shutting down and shutting out the Royals. The Royals who never looked like they had a chance against him.

Even in the ninth, when Alex Gordon wound up on third base following a misplay of his single by Gregor Blanco in center, you didn’t get the sense that Bumgarner would break. Not with a hobbled Salvador Perez at the plate, still obviously feeling the effects of being hit by a pitch earlier in the game. Not even if Perez was healthy, actually. Bumgarner was nothing if not cool this entire month. And while 40,000-plus Royals fans in attendance may have had faith, those with less defined rooting interests didn’t think it was possible. And in the end, it wasn’t.

This postseason has been defined by armchair managers second-guessing everything the real skippers have done. But Game 7 of the World Series didn’t allow for too much of that. One could question Ned Yost allowing Jeremy Guthrie to start the fourth inning rather than going with Kelvin Herrera. One could certainly ask why Yost never pinch hit for one of his lefties once Bumgarner was in the game — I think I just saw Josh Willingham’s face on a milk carton — but it was only with two outs in the ninth that the Royals even threatened. And then it wasn’t much of a threat.

For the most part, the managers handled things like a Game 7 should be handled. Bruce Bochy using his best pitcher for the duration (though I imagine Bumgarner would snap Bochy’s neck before surrendering the ball). Yost’s only relievers were Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. All of whom, with the exception of Herrera’s first few pitches — did their jobs. There was no tomorrow for either team, and each manager, more or less, managed like there was no tomorrow.

No, this game was decided by the players. By some key singles and a few sac flies. By some excellent defense by the Giants – they turned two double plays, one of them spectacular and rally-squelching — and by great pitchers throwing great stuff.

But one was greater than the others. One, the obvious choice for World Series MVP, won two games in this Fall Classic and saved Game 7, turning in an instant classic tonight. Madison Bumgarner, a legend is born.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.