Thursday, October 30, 2014

World Series Recap

              Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner celebrating the Giants third title this decade

Game 1: SF 7, KC 1
Game 2: KC 7, SF 2
Game 3: KC 3, SF 2
Game 4: SF 11, KC 4
Game 5: SF 5, KC 0
Game 6: KC 10, SF 0
Game 7: SF 3, KC 2

The 2014 World Series was a back and forth affair, were momentum switched sides several times. The Giants won the first game, then the Royals the next two. Kansas City won the first game in San Francisco, and was ahead 4-0 in Game 4. Then, the Giants started chipping away at that lead, and routed the Royals 11-4. Madison Bumgarner beat the Royals for a second time, pitching a complete game shutout in Game 5. The series then went back to Kansas City with the Giants having a 4-3 lead. In Game 6, the Royals clubbed the Giants 10-0 to force a Game 7.

In the end, Bumgarner was too much for the Royals. Bumgarner won Games 1 and 5, and then had a five inning save in Game 7. The Royals made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7. Alex Gordon hit a fly ball that Gregor Blanco misplayed, which allowed Gordon to advance to third base with two outs. However, that would be it, and the next hitter, Salvador Perez, would foul out to end the game and series. In a twist of irony, former Royal Jeremy Affeldt got the win in Game 7.

All in all, Bumgarner pitched 21 innings in the World Series, only allowing one run.  Bumgarner had a 0.43 ERA in 21 innings pitched in the 2014 World Series. The 11 other Giants pitchers combined for 40 innings pitched and had an unsightly 6.08 ERA. For his career, Bumgarner is 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA and 0.53 WHIP in five World Series appearances. His World Series ERA is the best in the 110 year history of the World Series. This October, Bumgarner dominated the postseason, winning both the NLCS and World Series MVP. He has even been compared to past great October pitchers like Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Jack Morris, Orel Hershiser, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax.

It easily could of been the Royals walking away with the World Series crown, but it wasn't meant to be. Besides the two games they were shut down by Bumgarner starts, they blew a 4-0 lead in Game 4, which ended lopsided for KC. They were within a run of tying Game 7, in the most exciting Game 7 since the 2001 Arizona/New York World Series. Ned Yost's team should be proud of what they accomplished this year. This young Royals team ended a 29 year playoff drought this year, and went much further than anyone expected. They have many young talented players, who now believe how talented they actually are. Kansas City has nothing to be ashamed for, and should be contenders again next year. They may even be better  next season.

As for the Giants, they have become baseball's first dynasty since the Yankees of 1996-2001. The Giants had previously won the World Series in 2010 and 2012. Critics point out that they missed the playoffs in 2011 and 2013, but considering how hard it is to win ONE World Series, it's hard to argue this. The Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz Braves teams of the 1990's only won one championship, the same with Earl Weaver's Orioles teams. The Big Red Machine of the 1970's only won two, so this is definitely a big accomplishment. This group of Giants are the first National League team to win three out of five World Series since the Cardinals did it in 1942, 1944, and 1946.

The Giants have now won 8 World Series championships. This ties them with the Red Sox for fourth most championships behind the Athletics, Cardinals, and Yankees. Until their recent run of success, they had never won a World Series in San Francisco. Their first five titles where won in New York. The 2010 squad that featured Tim Lincecum as its ace and a rookie Bumgarner and Posey, broke a 56 year titleless drought. The 2012 team had the best record of the three championship teams, with Pablo Sandoval winning the World Series MVP that year.

The 2014 team managed to win without Matt Cain, Angel Pagan, and Marco Scutaro, who missed the postseason due to injury. Many key players of past runs played a big role in this year's squad like Posey, Sandoval, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford. The bullpen mix of Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, and Affeldt have been in place for all three championship runs. The rotation was a bit different than past runs, with older veterans like Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy in it. Bruce Bochy also mixed in retreads like Travis Ishikawa and Yusmeiro Petit with rookies like Joe Panik, who all played key roles in this year's championship run.

Unlike the previous two runs, the pitching was dominated by one guy(Bumgarner). Hudson and Peavy have had outstanding careers, but were ineffective in the NLCS and World Series. They did pitch well in their NLDS starts, though. Ryan Vogelsong was 3-0 in 4 starts during the 2012 playoffs, but was roughed up in this year's postseason. Lincecum pitched his second career no-hitter earlier this year, but was a non-factor in October. Lincecum's only action was 1.2 innings in a mop up role during Game 2 of the World Series. Bochy also used three different closers in each title run, Brian Wilson in 2010, Romo in 2012, and Casilla in 2014.

Many comparisons between the Giants run of 2010-14 and the Yankees run of 1996-01 have been made. Especially with the comparison of Posey to Derek Jeter. I will say this is the best run since those Yankees teams, but I think the Yankees were better. The Yankees won four out of five World Series from 1996-2000, and lost a fifth one in 2001. The Yankees dynasty played in a higher scoring environment during the steroid era, while the Giants offense has been around league average. One common trait among both teams is that they both grinded victories out. Both teams had a knack for comeback wins, and had a lockdown bullpen.

                           Royals Rookie Fireballer Yordano Ventura

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