Thursday, October 30, 2014

World Series Recap: Madison Bumgarner Wins The World Series

Giants Win World Series For Third Time In Five Years; Bumgarner Is MVP

By: Apurv Baichwal

The Giants have been known as the Torture since 2010. They always seem to string games and series out to the very end, and they possess an uncanny ability to put themselves in the worst positions yet still win. After being shutout and completely dominated 10-0 yesterday, the Giants came back strong to win this game, and the World Series, 3-2.

Simply making the World Series for the third time in five years proved the Giants’ skill, but winning the World Series for the third time in five years proves that they are a dominant team in baseball, and a perennial contender to win the Fall Classic. They also made themselves the second National League team to win three in five years, with only Stan Musial’s historic St. Louis Cardinals of the 40s. This year, they won in Game 7, after barely making the postseason from the wildcat position, but even so, they played amazingly in the postseason and showed everybody that they were meant to be there, and they were meant to win the World Series.

Madison Bumgarner was easily named World Series MVP, after having another stellar outing today. On only two day’s rest, Bumgarner entered the game in the fifth inning and pitched five stellar innings, and 68 pitches after his 117 on Monday, to earn himself a five inning save, the first save of his career, and give himself an ERA of .43 in this World Series. This relief appearance marked his first of the sorts since Game Six of the 2010 NLCS, and he made it a great appearance. In his five innings, he only allowed two hits, while recording four strikeouts in a stellar, almost perfect appearance. He finished the Fall Classic with a huge outing, and he cemented himself in World Series history with his great performance. He already had the record for the best career World Series ERA from his last outing, but he made this number almost visible, as he lowered it to .25, a number that looks more like a batting average than an ERA.

In this specific game, the pitching was really key, as Jeremy Affeldt and Madison Bumgarner combined for a 7.1 inning shutout. Affeldt pitched 2.1 innings, an extremely long outing for him, but he was great for the whole of it, as he only allowed one hit, although he did hit a batter. He picked up the Game Seven win with this stellar outing, although the MLB seemed confused about this fact, as they originally credited the win to Bumgarner. Fortunately, they corrected this mistake, as they properly assigned the win to Affeldt and the save to Bumgarner. After Affeldt’s great pitching, Bumgarner stole the show with his performance, as earlier noted, earning him the five inning save. Tim Hudson started this game, although he did not last long, and he was the only pitcher to struggle for the Giants. Although his outing was quite poor, he still earned himself a place in World Series history by being the oldest pitcher to ever start a World Series game at 39 years old. He also earned himself a more notorious spot, as his start was the shortest World Series Game Seven start in baseball since 1960, at only 1.2 innings. In these innings, Hudson gave up two runs on three hits and a walk, as he never really seemed to settle into the game. It is possible that he would have settled down later, but Bochy did not give him a chance, as he made the quick—and most likely correct— decision to go to the bullpen early.

Another smart Bochy decision was to start Juan Perez in left field instead of Travis Ishikawa. They both provide about the same offensive prowess, except that Ishikawa has been strong in clutch at bats, while Perez is a speedier runner. The main difference between the two is that Juan Perez is a much better left fielder, as he is actually an outfielder, unlike Ishikawa who is truly an infielder. This move paid off in multiple occurrences, especially when Perez made a catch running back towards the wall, that Ishikawa very probably would not have made. The other play was one where Perez sprinted to the left field line to catch a ball that would have dropped in fair if Ishikawa had been playing, due to the fact that he does not possess the same speed as Perez. So, Bochy’s managerial decisions were great today, both with his pitchers and his defense.

The scoring in this game all came early, and both offenses were quiet after the fourth inning, as the two bullpens, or really the Royals bullpen and Bumgarner, locked down the hitters. The Giants struck first in the top of a second with a strong rally, exactly what we predicted they would need to win the game today. Pablo Sandoval led off the inning by letting a pitch graze his elbow and give him a free pass to first base. Hunter Pence then followed with a single to left, advancing Sandoval to second, and Belt added a single of his own to load the bases. The Giants then scored two runs on two sacrifice flys, the first by Michael Morse and the second by Brandon Crawford. Although the Giants once again scored runs without a hit, they still managed to manufacture the runs, as both Morse and Crawford used their at bats well to knock in the runs.

Unfortunately for the Giants, the Royals responded in the bottom of the second with two runs of their own, chasing Tim Hudson from the game. This World Series Game Seven matchup remained tied until the fourth inning when the Giants added the decisive run in the game.

Back to the defense: in the third inning, Joe Panik converted a tremendous double play that went through a challenge process as Royals’ first baseman Eric Hosmer was originally ruled safe at first. This call was overruled after a long, long replay, and in addition to being a huge play, it was also a huge momentum boost, as the Giants really looked to have their “it” factor, something we predicted they would need to win before the World Series even started.

The situations in the second and the fourth inning were very similar, with the results being quite similar as well in an episode of deja vu. Pablo Sandoval once again led off the inning and got on base, although this time he did so with an infield single up the middle, that he managed to beat out because the second baseman slipped while trying to make the play. Hunter Pence then singled to center advancing Sandoval to second, in another eerily similar play. Brandon Belt, however, broke the pattern as he flew out to deep left field. This out was turned into a productive one, fortunately, as Sandoval realized that the Royals’ left fielder would be moving backwards to make the catch, and therefore in a poor position to make a throw. He used this knowledge as he tagged up from second and slid head-first into third ahead of the throw to get to third with one out. By advancing to third, he put himself in a great position, and that one base running play was the reason why the Giants scored. Right after this play, Michael Morse slapped a single to right field, easily scoring Sandoval and advancing Pence to third. Had Sandoval stayed at second on Belt’s flyout, the Giants very likely would have not scored the winning run. So, Sandoval’s base running, along with his hitting and fielding, was key to the Giants’ win.

In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, and Bumgarner still pitching, the Giants added to the Torture. Royals’ left fielder Alex Gordon hit a single to center, which alone would not have been very torturous. However, Blanco over ran the ball and allowed the ball to bounce under his glove. It then rolled to the wall where Juan Perez slipped and eventually picked up the ball, giving Gordon more than enough time to make it to third base. 

From here, the Royals’ star catcher Salvador Perez, who was injured earlier in the game when Hudson hit him right above the knee with a pitch, came to bat with a man on third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth in Game Seven of the World Series. Fortunately, Bumgarne stayed calm and collected as he forced Perez to pop out foul of the third base line, where Sandoval caught the ball easily, then collapsed with joy.

Overall, the Giants came together today to put together rallies, produce runs, and most importantly win. The heart of the order was great, led by Sandoval who went three for three with two runs scored. Pence and Belt also had great nights at the plate each going two for four, while Pence added a run. Michael Morse also picked up two RBI on one hit and a sacrifice fly in three at bats.

Bumgarner was stellar today. Pablo Sandoval made a statement that will be important this offseason as he is a  now technically a free agent. Hopefully the Giants retain him, as he proved himself to be a great asset the whole season, and especially this series, but there will definitely be multiple teams vying for him. The Giants have won the Fall Classic today, for the third time in five years, and they proved themselves to truly be the best team in baseball.

Follow Apurv on Twitter: @abaichwal

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