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 Wednesday afternoon. "We'll see what kind of reliever he is."
Just as good.
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 earsplitting crowd of 40,535 last night at Kauffman Stadium that was denied celebrating the Royals' first title since 1985.
"We just got on his horse and rode it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Bumgarner.
Bumgarner, 25, was named the Series MVP after going 2-0 and allowing one run in 21 innings. He allowed two hits and no walks with four strikeouts after throwing 68 pitches in Game 7 to notch the five-inning save, lowering his career ERA in the Fall Classic to 0.25. He threw a record 52 2/3 innings this postseason, posting an ERA of 1.03.
"Madison Bumgarner, man, what can you say about him?" said Yost, later spotted in the visiting clubhouse congratulating Bochy. "I mean, it hurts to come as close as we came in a one-run game."
The Royals, who reeled off a record eight straight victories to reach the World Series, lost with the tying run 90 feet away.
Bumgarner allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante in the fifth but retired 14 straight before Alex Gordon sent a 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, a free-agent-to-be who went 3-for-3 to improve to 20-for-47 in his World Series career, to end it.
"It's a tough pill to swallow right now," Royals centerfielder Lorenzo Cain said.
The Giants, who took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on Michael Morse's one-out single to rightfield off reliever Kelvin Herrera, 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 the Oriioles fell.
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 appearing so early was part of the odd story line going into the game. It called for both starting pitchers, Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals and Tim Hudson of the Giants, 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, lasted only 12/3 innings, allowing two runs and three hits before lefthander Jeremy Affeldt took over.
Affeldt pitched 21/3 brilliant innings, allowing only one hit in picking up the win. He ran his streak to 22 postseason appearances without allowing a run, second to Mariano Rivera's 23. Affeldt made 11 appearances, comprising 112/3 innings, this postseason.
Guthrie allowed three runs and four hits in 31/3 innings before giving way to Herrera, who allowed an inherited runner to score but otherwise was terrific, allowing three hits in 22/3 innings.
"I'm numb, really, through all of this," said Bochy, who joined John McGraw as Giants managers to win three World Series. "You're so blessed or fortunate to get in the World Series and to get one, it just doesn't happen that often. To look at this and see that we won three times, I mean, I'm amazed with what these guys did."