The Giants struck first, and ultimately last, winning Game 7 of the World Series -- their third World Series in five years -- by the score of 3-2 on Wednesday night.
The Giants pushed two runs across on the top of the second inning, loading the bases with no outs against Jeremy Guthrie, who limited the damage to two sacrifice flies. The Royals struck back in the bottom of the inning, forcing Tim Hudson from the game with a run-scoring double from Alex Gordon and a sacrifice fly from Omar Infante.
Guthrie made it through the third cleanly, but was chased from the game in the fourth, allowing the decisive third run. It was three singles in four at-bats that did Guthrie in, as Michael Morse drove in Pablo Sandoval. It was the heart of the order that did it for San Francisco, as Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt each notched two hits, and Sandoval stroked three.
Kelvin Herrera followed with 2⅔ innings of scoreless baseball before ceding to Wade Davis, who was his usual, dominant self. Neither bullpen allowed a run, though Herrera gave up an inherited runner on Morse's single. It wasn't enough, though, as the Giants' own bullpen contained Madison Bumgarner, who unfurled five innings of shutout baseball, shutting down the Royals offense for the third time in the same series.
Here are some things we learned while all of the above was going on:
Salvador Perez is indestructible
Salvador Perez appeared in 146 games at catcher this season, starting 143 of them. He broke the record for innings caught in a single season in the fifth inning of the game, this following being hit by a pitch in the thigh in the second.
He wasn't nearly as effective for the Royals in the second half, something likely attributable to his workload, but he came through in some big spots, providing the game-winning hit in the Wild Card round. His value also can't be overstated in terms of defense. A strong defensive catcher, his ability to accrue those innings is crucial for the Royals, especially given the drop off to Erik Kratz, the only player from either squad not to appear in the World Series. Though he couldn't crack a 600 OPS in the postseason, Perez had as much a say in the Royals wins (and losses, in fairness) as anyone.
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Short stints from your starter is bad news
The Giants are the first team since the 1984 Padres to have back-to-back starters go two innings or less, an honor Jake Peavy and Hudson would rather not share with Ed Whitson and Tim Lollar, I'm sure. Of course, that's less distressing when the opposing starter goes fewer than four innings, as Jeremy Guthrie did in Game 7.
Amazingly, it worked out OK for San Francisco. Bruce Bochy went to Jeremy Affeldt almost immediately, and Affeldt managed to throw more innings than Hudson did. With his 2⅓ scoreless frames, Affeldt earned the win. More importantly, he helped bridge the gap to the ace. Bumgarner tossed the final five innings to shut down the Royals offense and earn the save. Solid plan from Bochy.
Pandas are magic
Sandoval shouldn't go overlooked as a playoff performer; his 26 hits in the postseason are the most ever by a single player. He broke the record shared by David Freese, Darin Erstad, and Marquis Grissom at 25. He also recorded 24 hits in 2012's postseason, so this isn't some sort of aberration.
While most teams won't overreact to the small sample nature of the postseason, it's possible Sandoval is just adding to his price, as he'll be a free agent this coming offseason.
Bumgarner is historical
Madison Bumgarner just set the record for most IP in a single postseason. Mercy.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) October 30, 2014