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.