KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An aura hung over Game 7 of the 110th World Series. It was that of Madison Bumgarner, the Giants lefthander who was virtually unhittable this postseason and was available on two days' rest.
Moments after he pitched a four-hit shutout in Game 5, until minutes before Game 7, the questions were: how long could he go, could the Giants get to him with a lead and how effective would he be?
"Bumgarner's a great starting pitcher,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said yesterday. "We'll see what kind of reliever he is.''
Handed a one-run lead in the fifth inning, Bumgarner pitched a dominant final five innings, helping the Giants win their third title in five years as they took Game 7, 3-2, in front of an ear-splitting crowd of 40,535 at Kauffman Stadium.
The sonorous sea of blue, which began congregating in the lots near the stadium hours before first pitch, was denied celebrating the Royals' first title since 1985.
That was largely because of Bumgarner, named the Series MVP after going 3-0 and allowing one run in 21 innings. He allowed two hits and no walks with four strikeouts after throwing 68 pitches in Game 7. He was 4-1 with a 1.13 ERA in six starts this postseason.
He retired 14 straight before Alex Gordon sent one final charge into the crowd, dumping a two-out single to centerfield that got past Gregor Blanco for a two-base error. But with Gordon on third and the crowd roaring, Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to foul out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval to end it.
The Giants took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on Michael Morse's one-out single to rightfield off reliever Kelvin Herrera. They became the first road team to win a Game 7 since the 1979 Pirates accomplished the feat in Baltimore. Home teams had been 9-0 in Game 7 since then.
The Giants won their 10th consecutive postseason series dating to 2010, the second longest streak, behind the 11 straight by the Yankees from 1998-2001.
Herrera was one of Yost's bullpen studs this season and postseason, and appearing so early was part of the odd storyline going into the game. It called for both starting pitchers, Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals and Tim Hudson of the Giants, to essentially be game managers, to do as little damage as possible before the managers could get into their bullpens.
Hudson was the oldest Game 7 starting pitcher in history at 39 years, 107 days old. He surpassed Roger Clemens, who was 39 years, 92 days old when he started Game 7 for the Yankees in 2001 against the Diamondbacks. Hudson lasted only 12/3 innings, allowing two runs and three hits before lefthander Jeremy Affeldt took over. and pitched 2 1/3 brilliant innings, allowing just one hit, running his streak to 22 straight postseason appearances without allowing a run, the second-best streak in history to Mariano Rivera's 23 appearances. That includes 11 appearances, comprising 11 2/3 innings, this postseason.
Guthrie allowed three runs and four hits over 3 1/3 innings, giving way to Herrera, who allowed an inherited runner to score but otherwise was terrific, allowing three hits over 2 2/3 innings. The other two elements of Yost's three-headed bullpen monster, Wade Davis (two scoreless innings) and Greg Holland (one scoreless) more than did their jobs.
But the game belonged to Bumgarner.
The sight of the 25-year-old coming to the mound fired up the crowd, if increasing the volume level was even possible, and Omar Infante led off with a single to right. Alcides Escobar's sacrifice bunt moved Infante to second and the left-handed hitting Nori Aoki followed with a slicer down the leftfield line, off the bat it appearing as if it might drop. But leftfielder Juan Perez, already shaded toward the line, made a running catch for the second out and Bumgarner struck out Lorenzo Cain to end the inning.