There’s an old saying that baseball is a game of inches.
The San Francisco Giants secured a dramatic World Series victory by 90 feet, edging out the Kansas City Royals in the decisive game seven by a final score of 3-2. Although a few of the games were routs the series proved exciting, with neither team maintaining an extended momentum swing.
Madison Bumgarner took home series MVP honors with a performance for the ages, winning two games in the series and saving the finale. Over his three appearances, Bumgarner limited the Royals to one run in 21 innings for a microscopic 0.43 earned run average. Along the way, he became the first pitcher to toss a complete game shutout in World Series play since 2003 when he blanked Kansas City for all nine frames in game five.
The Royals just missed pulling off a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning of game seven. With two outs, Alex Gordon lined a base hit to left center field that was subsequently misplayed by Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco. The error allowed Gordon to advance all the way to third base on the play, and Royals suddenly had the tying run standing just 90 feet away.
The play was not without controversy; fans and media alike wondered aloud after the game why Kansas City’s third base coach had not waived Gordon around in an attempt to score. Such a maneuver would have been the ultimate gamble: had it paid off the Royals would have tied the game in dramatic fashion to keep their dream season alive. However, if it had failed, the game would have ended, and the Royals and their fans would have spent the entire offseason contemplating the decision. Ultimately, the next batter, Salvador Pérez, popped out in foul ground to end the series and the fans were left to contemplate the coach’s decision.
The turning point of the series appeared to occur in game four, which featured a momentum swing for each side. The Royals took advantage of a series of favorable bounces and miscues to score four runs in the third inning, going up 4-1 and appearing well on their way to taking a commanding three games to one lead in the series. However, the Giants gradually chipped away at the deficit, proceeding to score nine runs in a three inning span to ultimately prevail in the contest 11-4. Suddenly, the Royals found themselves in a tied series with Bumgarner slated to pitch for San Francisco the next night.
The series proved to be a battle of the bullpens for the most part, with the starting pitchers for both teams often getting pulled in the sixth inning or earlier, save for Bumgarner. In fact, only once in the entire series did a Royals starter make it to the seventh, when Yordano Ventura pitched seven effective innings in game six. The strategy burned the Royals more than it helped, as the bullpen failed to escape a couple of jams that keyed some vital rallies for the Giants. It proved to be too much for Kansas City to overcome. Ultimately, the Giants were able to eke out the series victory with Bumgarner proving to be the difference. San Francisco cemented its status as a dynasty, winning their third World Series in the last five seasons and making a case already as the team of this decade.