Halftime Sports

The Heroes of San Francisco

October 31, 2014


Following the World Series, everybody seems to be talking about Giants ace Madison Bumgarner…and so am I.  MadBum gave one of the best performances of all time in a Fall Classic, bringing the Giants their third championship in five years.  Traumatized Royals fans will be waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming “Bumgarner!” for the next six months.  But Bumgarner wasn’t the only hero for the city of San Francisco.

Hunter Pence has solidified his role as the heart and soul of the Giants.  During the World Series, Pence batted .444 with seven runs scored, five RBIs and a homer.  But the stats don’t capture his full contribution.  They don’t show him beating the throw to first or making a diving catch in the outfield.  They don’t show his hustle, they don’t show his heart, and they don’t show his insatiable desire to win.

Pence had good company.  Third baseman Pablo Sandoval hit .429 in the World Series, capping off a postseason campaign with 26 hits, an all-time playoff record.  But once again, the numbers don’t give him enough credit.  His Game 7 tag-up to third was no easy task for the 240-pound Sandoval.  Without his three hits and two runs in the final game, there could have been a very different result.

Sandoval also belonged to a polished Giants infield.  Game 7 witnessed two Giants double plays, including a spectacular dive and even more spectacular flip by second baseman Joe Panik.  According to Comcast Sportsnet, “Panik was involved in eight of the nine double plays turned by the Giants in the World Series. Kansas City turned three.”  The Giants stole many an opportunity from the Royals with their defense, and Game 7 was a fitting culmination for a month of brilliant defensive baseball.

Of course, at the end of the day, it all comes back to the World Series MVP.  Reviewing his World Series performance, I can hardly believe the numbers.  One earned run over 21 innings pitched.  That means, in a seven-game series of 63 innings, Bumgarner took care of one-third of the pitching.  And that’s not even the best part.  His ERA for the series—a jaw-dropping 0.43.  He pitched on three days of the eight-day-long series, in both starting and relief roles, and he was untouchable the entire time.  Keep in mind he’s only 25 years old. Giants manager Bruce Bochy is salivating over the rings Bumgarner can add to his collection over the next decade.

With the knowledge that Bumgarner would make an appearance going into Game 7, the Royals’ only hope was to get ahead early.  Kansas City scored two in the bottom of the second, but let up three in total from the Giants before Bumgarner took over to start the bottom of the fifth.  At that point it was already over.  The Royals only managed to scrape up two hits throughout the rest of the game, thanks to Panik and his partner Crawford.  There was a glimmer of hope in the bottom of the ninth with Alex Gordon on third and Salvador Perez, the backbone of the Royals, at the plate.  But Bumgarner already had the glint of the Commissioner’s trophy in his eye, and forced a game-ending pop-up to seal the deal.

The Royals were not beaten by one man.  They had the misfortune of facing an extremely talented and motivated team.  I have no doubt that the Royals will be one of the top contenders again next year.  But, unfortunately for Kansas City, the Giants also show no signs of slowing down.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images



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