By Joe Hanretty
Following what has become a somewhat humorous pattern, the San Francisco Giants have won yet another World Series. The team has won three times in five years, in 2010, 2012, and now in 2014. The ongoing joke is that they can only win every other year, and some predict that they will be a mediocre team next season only to regain glory in 2016. That aside, let’s take a look back at what was an amazing seven-game series, a testament to the exhausting amount of mental toughness displayed by both the Giants and the Kansas City Royals.
The series began with a dominant start by the Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. He outpitched James Shields to the tune of a 7-1 drubbing of the Royals. This performance helped end the Royals’ magical, unbeaten record of 8-0 in the 2014 postseason. It was predicted to be a pitchers’ duel, but with Shields exiting the game early, the Giants were able to chip away at the bullpen earlier than expected. The momentum immediately was in the Giants favor heading into Game 2.
Game 2 ended with the Royals regaining confidence as they sent Jake Peavy and the Giants offense reeling in a 7-2 defeat. The Royals’ bullpen worked almost four innings and shut down the same team that had put up a crooked number in the previous game. In Game 3, the Royals broke the series tie with a 3-2 victory in what was actually a good outing for both of the starting pitchers, Jeremy Guthrie and Tim Hudson. The Giants, who are no strangers to falling behind on the big stage, went on to tie the series again with a decisive 11-4 win in Game 4. Although they were down 4-2 in the game at one point, the Giants fought back two runs in the fifth-inning, three in the sixth and four in the seventh.
The series was tied yet again, with each team holding on to two wins, only to see the Giants pull ahead in the fifth game. Bumgarner came on to pitch, and shut down the Royals for a complete game shutout. San Francisco won 5-0 to push Kansas City to the brink. Game 6 featured the resiliency we had seen from the Royals all October. They piled on 10 runs and gave America what all sports fans love to hear: Game 7! The Giants and Royals were tied at two runs going into the fourth inning when Michael Morse laced an RBI single to send teammate Pablo Sandoval home. Bumgarner did not start the game but, oh, did he finish it. Taking over for pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, Bumgarner pitched five shutout innings to preserve the one-run lead and help gain the title of World Series Champions for his team.
Bumgarner won the Most Valuable Player award and rightfully so, looking at all that he did to get his team in a position to win its third championship in less than six years. But are we looking at a dynasty? Many say that this team has put together a string of successes close to what the Yankees were able to do in the ‘90s. In my opinion, experience is what made it possible for the Giants to win this series. The team had many of the same players who helped them win in previous years, including Buster Posey, Sandoval and Bumgarner. The team will try to retain much of its core going into next season.
Kansas City deserves a ton of credit, however. The Royals defied all expectations and nerdy statistical projections, missing out on a championship by two runs in the last game possible in the 2014 season. As a nation, we were treated to one of the most exciting playoff series in recent memory. Hopefully, in years to come, people will remember how impressive it was for two wild card teams to create such a spectacle.