It's not "even year magic." It's Madison Bumgarner.
The San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in the decisive clash of the of the 2014 World Series for their third championship in five years. The dramatic Game 7 triumph included a scoreless relief appearance from Bumgarner, the team's ace starting pitcher who had already recorded wins in Game 1 and Game 5.
"I wasn't thinking about innings or pitch count. I was just thinking about getting outs, getting outs until I couldn't get them any more and we needed someone else," Bumgarner told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on the field at Kauffman Stadium as his teammates celebrated around him. "Fortunately we were able to get some quick innings and I was able to stay in there."
The Royals, looking for their first World Series title since 1985, ran out of outs before Bumgarner did. Pitching on just two day's rest, the 25-year-old left-handed pitcher entered the winner-take-all Game 7 with the Giants leading 3-2 in bottom of the fifth inning and didn't leave until it was all over. He held the Royals, a team that had produced a staggering 10 runs just a night earlier to force a seventh game, to just two hits the rest of the way. The official scorer initially determined that Bumgarner had earned the win in Game 7 thanks to his masterful 68-pitch performance. The decision would later be changed, awarding Bumgarner a save instead. Nobody will be making any change when it comes to the decision to award Bumgarner the World Series MVP Award.
"He was throwing so well there was no way I could take him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Erin Andrews of FOX Sports after being presented with the Commissioner's Trophy. "I could just get on him and ride him."
Looking to become the first road team since 1979 to win a World Series Game 7, the Giants jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against the Royals in the second inning. A team that has been able to produce runs in all sorts of ways as it marched from the National League Wild Card Game to the final contest of the World Series, the Giants put up two runs against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie by way of two sacrifice flies in that frame.
To the delight of the raucous crowd at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals produced an answer in the bottom of that same inning. Longtime Royals star Billy Butler singled to lead off the home second and was driven in by Alex Gordon to get the home team on the scoreboard. Gordon would score later in the inning as the Royals got even and chased Giants starter Tim Hudson.
Giants second baseman Joe Panik produced a sterling defensive play to thwart what could have developed into a Royals rally in the bottom of the third inning. With a runner on first and nobody out, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer turned around a fastball from Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Panik, 23, dove to his right to snag the ball before it could get into the outfield and then quickly flipped the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford to secure the out at second base. Crawford quickly fired to first baseman Brandon Belt for the double play, eventually. Hosmer, who slid headfirst into the bag, was initially called safe at first but the call was overturned after a challenge from Bochy initiated a replay review by the umpires.
With the game still deadlocked 2-2 into the fourth inning, Giants designated hitter Michael Morse delivered the series-winning hit. After Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence reached base yet again to lead off the top of the inning for the Giants, Morse singled off Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera to drive in Sandoval with the go-ahead score.