The 2014 World Series was the one hundred twelfth year overall, and one hundred tenth played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. The two teams in the ’14 Fall Classic were attempting to create their own history – one was trying to cement its legacy as a dynasty, and the other was trying to rewrite its legacy, making the playoffs (and the Series) for the first time in over a quarter-century. When it was over, the upstart losing team stood ninety feet away, still waiting for that last clutch hit to put them over the top.
(The 2014 World Series logo. Photo courtesy of http://www.sportslogos.net)
2014 World Series
San Francisco Giants (NL) over Kansas City Royals (AL), 4-3
Managers: Bruce Bochy (San Francisco); Ned Yost (Kansas City)
Hall of Famers*
* -as of 2016
Series MVP: Madison Bumgarner, P (San Francisco)
Following a disastrous 2013 year, the Hall of Fame made sure that it got it right this time. Three managers were inducted by the Veteran’s Committee – Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre were all inducted, perhaps three of the best modern managers in the game.
(From left to right: Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox were part of a triumvirate of managers elected to Cooperstown in 2014. Photo courtesy of New York Times.)
Two of Cox’s finest pitchers from the Braves dynasty years joined him. Greg Maddux, not known for a dazzling fastball, was nevertheless one of the most cerebral pitchers the game has ever seen, winning 355 games, a record 18 Gold Gloves, and 3,371 strikeouts, to go along with four Cy Young Awards. Teammate Tom Glavine won the Cy Young twice, and won 305 games in his storied career. Lastly, former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas – “The Big Hurt” – joined them, winning two MVP awards and hitting 521 home runs, tied with Ted Williams and Willie McCovey. All three were first ballot inductees, with Craig Biggio narrowly missing induction on his second try.
(Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Greg Maddux were all elected on the first ballot in 2014. Photo courtesy of Denver Post.)
Back in Boston, the Red Sox celebrated their third title in a decade just like the last two – by hanging the banner over the Green Monster. However, the magic didn’t stick this year, as they went in the opposite direction – first to worst, 71-91 in the AL East. A ten-game losing streak in May, coupled with uncharacteristically bad seasons from many of their stars, doomed the Red Sox. In a touch of irony, players from the Red Sox and Cardinals were traded for each other – Joe Kelly and Allen Craig to the Red Sox, and John Lackey to St. Louis. Additionally, lefty Jon Lester was sent to Oakland for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, primarily because Lester was a free agent and they didn’t want to lose him for nothing.
(At the 2014 Red Sox home opener, the championship banner from the previous year was hung over the Green Monster. Photo courtesy of http://www.boston.cbslocal.com)
Their rivals in the Bronx saw the last hurrah for the last remaining member of the “Core Four.” With Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte calling it quits the previous year, Derek Jeter was the last remaining member of the original core. For the Yankees, it would be a pretty rough year, actually. Earlier in the season, Alex Rodriguez had been indicted in a PED controversy, and would miss the entire season. Even though he remained one of the most prodigious hitters, it was almost impossible now to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But with Jeter, the last remaining “magnificent Yankee,” he had one more moment of glory. In his final at-bat in his home ballpark, he came up with one out in the bottom of the ninth, in a 5-5 tie with the Orioles. On Evan Meek’s first pitch, Jeter lined a single to right field. Although Nick Markakis made a good throw, it was too late. Jeter had won the game with a single in the bottom of the ninth. Endings don’t get much better than that.
(Derek Jeter hits a walk-off single in his final at-bat in Yankee Stadium. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
The old rivals concluded against each other at Fenway Park. Even many of the most die-hard Red Sox fans were in a congratulatory mood – Jeter was one of the few Yankees they respected, and there was almost a mood of reconciliation between the two clubs, if only briefly. Jeter’s last at-bat came against Boston’s Clay Buchholz in the top of the third, with New York already leading 2-0 with a runner on third. Buchholz went to 1-2, narrowly missing on one pitch. Jeter finished with a grounder to third, an infield single that drove in a run. It was hit 3,465, the final one of his career. He left the game to a standing ovation, and he met Buchholz at the mound, wishing him the best, and thanking him for not taking it easy on him. It was one moment – even if it was only one – where the rivalry was put aside.
(Derek Jeter takes his final at-bat, an RBI single off Boston’s Clay Buchholz. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
(Derek Jeter and Clay Buchholz shake hands near the mound. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.)
Actually, neither team would make the playoffs that year, the first time it had happened since the introduction of the division series in 1995. One of the biggest success stories was in Kansas City, where after 29 years of waiting, the Royals were back in the playoffs. They faced an uphill climb at 89-73, but had brought “Big Game” James Shields over from the Rays, and were led by Venezuelan catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and gritty manager Ned Yost.
They would host Oakland in the Wild Card game on September 30. Shields and Lester faced off. What would follow was one of the most amazing games in postseason history. Brandon Moss hit a two-run, two out home run in the first inning. Kansas City got one back, and should have had more, but with runners at the corners with two out, Billy Butler made a baserunning gaffe, and Eric Hosmer was thrown out at home. It would also hurt Oakland, however, as catcher Geovany Soto hurt his thumb and was forced to leave the game, replaced by Derek Norris.
(Kansas City’s Billy Butler gets caught in a rundown to end the first inning. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
In the bottom of the third, Kansas City tied the game with two out. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain doubled home Mike Moustakas, and then Hosmer blooped a single to score Cain to give the Royals a 3-2 lead. But in the top of the sixth, Oakland struck back. Brandon Moss rocked his second home run of the game off rookie Yordano Ventura, this one a three-run shot to make it 5-3. Oakland got two more runs in the inning, and were up 7-3. Things looked grim in Kansas City.
(Brandon Moss rocks a three-run home run, his second of the game. Photo courtesy of The Press Democrat.)
The score remained the same in the bottom of the eighth. Kansas City needed some runs, and fast. While they weren’t known for being a great power-hitting team, they played small ball to cut the deficit. Alcides Escobar singled. Then with Nori Aoki at bat, Escobar stole second. For catcher Norris, it would be a recurring theme for the rest of the night. Lorenzo Cain followed with a single, and then proceeded to steal second as well. Hosmer walked, and that was it for Jon Lester after 7.2 innings. Against pitcher Luke Gregerson, Butler drove in Cain with an opposite field single. With runners at second and third, Gregerson uncorked a wild pitch to Alex Gordon. Hosmer scored and it was 7-6. Gordon walked, but Gregerson got out of the inning (despite a third stolen base in the inning). Oakland’s lead held, but it was down to one.
(Eric Hosmer scores on a wild pitch to get the Royals back to within a run. Photo courtesy of http://www.sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
In the bottom of the ninth, pinch runner Jarrod Dyson stood on second with one out. In keeping with the theme, he narrowly stole third, ahead of Norris’ throw. Aoki followed with a game-tying sacrifice fly to right field. Oakland had collapsed again.
(Jarrod Dyson steals third in the bottom of the ninth. Photo courtesy of CBS Sports.)
(Nori Aoki hits a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
The score stayed tied in the tenth and eleventh, although the Royals put the winning run on third base in both innings. With Josh Reddick on third after a wild pitch, pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo, a former Royal (and the final out in Jon Lester’s 2008 no-hitter with Boston), came through with a single off new pitcher Jason Frasor with one out. Suddenly, Oakland was three outs away again.
(Alberto Callaspo gives the A’s an 8-7 lead in the twelfth inning. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Another significant injury would hamper Oakland – Coco Crisp was forced to leave with a pulled hamstring, and Jonny Gomes took over in left field. Cain grounded out to put Kansas City down to their final two outs. Then Eric Hosmer rocked a fly ball into the gap. Gomes and center fielder Sam Fuld went for it. Neither called for it, and they collided. The ball fell in, deflecting off the wall. Hosmer reached third.
(Jonny Gomes and Sam Fuld collide as Hosmer triples in the bottom of the twelfth. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Now at bat was shortstop Christian Colon, not known for his heroics. He chopped a weak grounder to third. Josh Donaldson charged the ball, but had no play. Hosmer scored. Again, the game was tied.
(Christian Colon hits an infield single to tie the game in the twelfth. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Alex Gordon popped up for the second out. It brought up Salvador Perez, hitless in five at-bats with two strikeouts. His case was helped when Colon stole second base – the seventh stolen base of the night for the Royals. Norris didn’t even attempt a throw, dropping the ball on an attempted pitchout. The winning run was ninety feet away. On a 2-2 count, Jason Hammel threw. Perez swung and hit a line drive towards Donaldson at third base. Fair ball!! Colon hustled home, and Gomes had no play. The Royals had won the game, 9-8, winning the wild card. For Oakland, it was just another playoff failure in fifteen years.
(Christian Colon scores the winning run in the AL Wild Card Game. Photo courtesy of Washington Times.)
(Salvador Perez – “Salvy” for short – reacts after driving in the winning run. Photo courtesy of Kansas City Star.)
(The victorious Royals mob Salvador Perez. Photo courtesy of Washington Post.)
The NL Wild Car game between San Francisco and Pittsburgh was anticlimactic, at least at the time. Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout winning 8-0. Brandon Crawford’s grand slam in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie.
(Brandon Crawford’s grand slam broke open the NL Wild Card game. Photo courtesy of Toronto Sun.)
(Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete-game shutout in the NL Wild Card game. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
In the end, the Giants won the game going away, and Bumgarner became only the third pitcher to throw a shutout with at least ten or more strikeouts in a winner-take-all playoff game. The Giants would move to play the NL East Champion Washington Nationals.
The ALDS opened first, between the Royals and AL West champion Los Angeles Angels. Mike Trout had finally broken through, winning the MVP Award. But the Royals crashed the party. Both teams got a run in the third and fifth innings, although their means were very different – Los Angeles relied on two solo home runs, and Kansas City did it with a double and sacrifice fly. But in the top of the eleventh, any doubts that Kansas City couldn’t play long ball were erased when Mike “Moose” Moustakas won the game with a solo homer. Greg Holland closed out the game, mere hours after arriving late (the fourth inning) due to the birth of his son in North Carolina.
(Mike Moustakas won ALDS Game 1 with a solo home run. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.)
Bad baserunning doomed the Angels in Game 2. In the eighth inning of a 1-1 tie, Collin Cowgill stood at second base with nobody out. Chris Iannetta lofted a fly ball to Dyson in right field. Cowgill tried to advance, but a perfect throw nailed him for the double play.
(Third baseman Mike Moustakas tags out Collin Cowgill in the eighth inning of ALDS Game 2. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
The game would hinge on the top of the eleventh. With Cain on second, Hosmer rocked a two-run home run to give the Royals a 3-1 lead. An error and a Salvador Perez single led to a fourth (and unearned) run. Holland closed it out for the second straight game, and the Royals were on the verge of a shocking upset.
(Eric Hosmer’s homer in Game 2 was the difference for the Royals. Photo courtesy of Kansas City Star.)
It was no contest in Game 3, as the Royals completed a shocking sweep of the Angels, winning 8-3. Hosmer and Moustakas homered again, and Lorenzo Cain made two great catches in the fifth inning to keep the Royals ahead. League MVP Mike Trout struck out on three pitches to end the game and the series.
(The Royals make the ALCS for the first time since 1985. Photo courtesy of Wichita Eagle.)
The other ALDS matched the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers, facing off for the first time in the playoffs. Back-to-back home runs helped Detroit tie it 2-2 early, and it was still 4-3 into the eighth, after Miguel Cabrera got the Tigers within a run. But then Baltimore used a rally to score eight times, a record for one inning in the ALDS, putting away a 12-3 victory, and Max Scherzer had fallen for the first time in the Division Series. Baltimore also helped their cause with a double play in the top of the eighth. The Tigers loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but didn’t score.
(Baltimore used an eight-run eighth inning to seal Game 1. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
After Justin Verlander fell behind 2-0 on a Nick Markakis home run, the Tigers rallied with five runs of their own in Game 2. Heading into the bottom of the eighth, Detroit was leading 6-3. But the bullpen, shaky all season, fell apart at the wrong time. Former Yankee Joba Chamberlain got a groundout, but then hit Adam Jones with a pitch. After a run scored, the Orioles loaded the bases, bringing former Tiger outfielder Delmon Young (who had won the ALCS MVP Award for them in 2012) to the plate. On the pitch from Joakim Soria, Young rocked a double, clearing the bases, and giving the Orioles a shocking 7-6 lead (J.J. Hardy just beating the throw home by mere inches). Zach Britton closed out the game for Baltimore, heading to Detroit up 2-0.
(The Orioles rally against the Tigers’ shaky bullpen. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
(J.J. Hardy scores the winning run of Game 2. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Sun.)
It was Baltimore’s turn to pull off the sweep of their own, as Detroit’s mid-season acquisition David Price lost, 2-1, continuing his postseason struggles. Nelson Cruz haunted the Tigers again with a two-run home run. Detroit put the tying run on base in the ninth, but Nick Castellanos grounded into a double play to end the game and the series. It was Baltimore’s first ALCS appearance since 1997.
(Baltimore celebrates winning the ALDS. Photo courtesy of Washington Post.)
It would be the Royals and Orioles in the ALCS, two unexpected teams in the semifinal round. In Game 1, Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar shocked the world by rocking a home run, having hit only three in the regular season. Not known for their home run power, Kansas City used three in the game to win the opener, 8-6, in 10 innings. Moustakas and Alex Gordon each homered, and Baltimore could only counter with one run.
(In what proved to be the winning runs, Mike Moustakas (#8) celebrates with Salvador Perez after homering in ALCS Game 1. Photo courtesy of Washington Times.)
Moustakas hit his second home run in two games in Game 2, making the score 4-3 in the fourth inning. Baltimore would tie it in the fifth, when Cruz grounded out to score Alejandro De Aza. Two great catches by Lorenzo Cain kept the Orioles off the board in the seventh and eighth innings. The first one was especially spectacular. Cain made a diving catch to rob Adam Jones, covering over 80 feet in just under four seconds.
(Lorenzo Cain made an amazing catch – twice – to keep Kansas City in the game. Photo courtesy of ESPN.)
Kansas City used it small ball brand to win the game in the ninth. Omar Infante led off with a single. Pinch runner Terrance Gore advanced on a sacrifice bunt, and then Escobar doubled him in. Cain helped his own cause two batters later by driving in Escobar, making it 6-4. Holland closed it out to have the Royals up 2-0 heading to Kansas City.
The Royals had a strong bullpen, and they showed it in this series – starter Jeremy Guthrie allowed a first inning run, but four relievers kept Baltimore off the board the rest of the way. A fourth inning ground out tied the game, and Alex Gordon won Game 3 with a sacrifice fly. A 2-1 win put the Royals one game from the pennant. Mike Moustakas helped the Royals with a great defensive play of his own, reaching into foul territory in the fourth inning to make the play.
(Mike Moustakas makes a great catch in Game 3 to help the Royals. Photo courtesy of Kansas City Star.)
Kansas City used a two-run first inning to spark them to the pennant in Game 4. After Cain (who would win MVP honors for the series) laid down his first career sacrifice bunt, first baseman Steve Pearce made a bad throw on a Hosmer ground ball, allowing two runners to score. Kansas City wouldn’t score anymore, but Baltimore only got one run, and Greg Holland got his fourth straight save of the series, getting a groundout from J.J. Hardy to Moustakas at third. For the first time since 1985, the Royals had won the pennant.
(The Royals win the AL pennant. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
(Kansas City celebrates the 2014 AL pennant. Photo courtesy of Kansas City Star.)
If people thought the AL playoffs were excited, the NL playoffs were probably more so. Washington and San Francisco opened, with former Giants third baseman Matt Williams managing the Nationals. Despite solo shots from superstar Bryce Harper and lesser-known Asdrubal Cabrera, Jake Peavy beat former top draft pick Stephen Strasburg, 3-2.
Game 2 set a record for the longest postseason game in history – 18 innings, clocking in at six hours and twenty-three minutes long. Washington got a run in the third inning, and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann retired 20 straight Giants at one point (he also had thrown a no-hitter on the final day of the season). But in the ninth, the Giants rallied. Against closer Drew Storen, Pablo Sandoval hit a double to drive in Joe Panik. From there, the bullpens took over. Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit would set a postseason record by pitching six scoreless innings in relief.
(Pablo Sandoval’s double tied the game in Game 2, the longest postseason game in history. Photo courtesy of CBS Sports.)
Finally, leading off the top of the eighteenth inning, Brandon Belt broke through with a home run, just after midnight EST. Rookie Hunter Strickland got the save, and the Giants were up 2-0. San Francisco’s bullpen set a postseason record by throwing fifteen scoreless innings in one game.
(Brandon Belt’s home run in the 18th inning won Game 2 for San Francisco. Photo courtesy of http://www.mlb.com)
The Nationals managed to beat Bumgarner in Game 3, the only time he lost in the the entire postseason. It was scoreless in the seventh inning when MadBum made a bad throw to score two runs, and Cabrera added a single to make it 3-0. Bryce Harper’s home run made it 4-0 in the ninth, and although the Giants got a run back in the ninth, it wasn’t enough. Washington was still alive.
(Bryce Harper kept the Nationals alive in Game 3, hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning to cap the victory. Photo courtesy of Daily Herald.)
In Game 4, the Nats sent former 20-game winner Gio Gonzalez to the mound, facing Ryan Vogelsong, who helped his own cause by reaching on a bunt single in the second inning. That loaded the bases with one out. A walk to Gregor Blanco and a groundout by Joe Panik scored two runs. In the fifth inning, Washington cut it to 2-1, and then in the seventh, Harper rocked his third home run of the series to tie the game at 2-2.
(Bryce Harper tied Game 4 in the seventh inning with a homer. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.)
But the Giants had one more rally in them. With the bases loaded, one out, and Pablo Sandoval at the plate, pitcher Aaron Barrett missed low for a wild pitch. Joe Panik scored, and the Giants led 3-2. The Nationals put the tying run on base in the ninth, but Wilson Ramos grounded out and the Giants moved on again.
(Joe Panik scores on a wild pitch to win the NLDS for the Giants. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
The other NLDS matched up the Dodgers and Cardinals. L.A.’s Game 1 starter, Clayton Kershaw, had a season for the ages – he had thrown a no-hitter earlier in the season, winning 21 games, and took home the Cy Young – and the NL MVP Award. He was the first National League pitcher to do so since Bob Gibson in 1968.
(Clayton Kershaw in action in 2014. Photo courtesy of http://www.dodgersnation.com)
Still, despite his great season, he had a reputation for being unable to come through in the postseason. Would this year be different? In Game 1, Kershaw faced off against St. Louis’ ace Adam Wainwright, who had also won 20 games that year. Kershaw fell behind early when Randal Grichuk hit a solo home run in the top of the first. But the Dodgers would stake him to a 6-1 lead, with catcher A.J. Ellis coming through with a two-run shot. Matt Carpenter cut the lead to 6-2 in the sixth, but there was no reason for Dodgers fans to worry….until the seventh inning came.
Kershaw started the inning by allowing four straight singles, one of them scoring a run. He struck out Pete Kozma for the first out. But Jon Jay singled to make it 6-4 with one out. Oscar Taveras struck out for the second out. Matt Carpenter came up with the bases loaded and two out. Carpenter fought up several pitches, working the count to two balls, two strikes. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Kershaw missed just a little bit. Whack!! Carpenter lined a double off the right field wall, scoring all three runners to give the Cardinals a 7-6 lead. Kershaw was done after 110 pitches, one strike away from getting out of the inning.
(Matt Carpenter gives the Cardinals a 7-6 lead with a clutch double. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
It got worse. Grichuk drew a walk to put two runners on. Then Matt Holliday rocked a home run against Pedro Baez to make it 10-6. One day after the Orioles did it to the Tigers, the Cardinals scored eight runs of their own in one inning.
(Matt Holliday caps off an eight-run rally with a three-run shot. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
In the eighth, the Dodgers rallied to 10-8 when Adrian Gonzalez homered. They even got it to 10-9 in the ninth, with Yasiel Puig representing the winning run. But he struck out, and the Cardinals had stolen Game 1.
Carpenter struck again for the Cardinals in Game 2. Trailing 2-0 in the top of the eighth, he smashed a game-tying homer off of reliever J.P. Howell. This time, though, Matt Kemp homered for the Dodgers, who held on to even the series, winning 3-2.
(Matt Carpenter tied Game 2 with a home run. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
(Matt Kemp won Game 2 for the Dodgers with an eighth inning home run. Photo courtesy of Washington Times.)
The Dodgers bullpen faltered again in Game 3, allowing a home run in the bottom of the seventh to Kolten Wong. It broke a 1-1 tie, and the Cardinals won 3-1. Desperate, manager Don Mattingly sent Kershaw out to the mound to try to save the season for the Dodgers. In the top of the sixth, the Dodgers used a double-play ground ball and an RBI single to take a 2-0 lead. It stayed that way into the bottom of the seventh. Two runners reached with nobody out. First baseman Matt Adams came up. CRACK!! Again, Kershaw couldn’t hold it, as Adams rocked a three-run homer to make it 3-2 St. Louis. Although Los Angeles put a runner on in the ninth, St. Louis’ bullpen held, and the Dodgers were eliminated. For all of the heroics that Kershaw had, the Cardinals were his Achilles heel.
(Matt Adams won the NLDS for the Cardinals with a three-run home run in the seventh inning of Game 4. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
In the NLCS opener, Wainwright and Bumgarner faced off. Bumgarner won the matchup, pitching 7.2 innings of shutout baseball (and he got away with a balk in the seventh, according to rumor). Two runs in the second and one run in the third helped the Giants win the opener 3-0.
The second game saw the Cardinals even the series for their only win of the NLCS. The Cardinals used four solo home runs to spark them. The only non-home run RBI was on a Randal Grichuk single in the fourth inning, making it 2-0 at the time. The teams traded the lead until St. Louis was up 4-3 in the top of the ninth. After two singles, though, the Giants had the tying run in scoring position with two out. On a 3-2 pitch, Joe Panik walked. But it was worse than that. The ball skipped past backup catcher Tony Cruz, and shockingly, pinch runner Matt Duffy rounded third and headed for the plate. The throw was late and it was tied 4-4. Fortunately, the Cardinals held.
(Matt Duffy’s heads-up baserunning tied Game 2 of the NLCS. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
As it turned out, not only would the Cardinals get redemption, but so would World Series goat of the previous year Kolten Wong. On the second pitch of the inning from Sergio Romo, Wong lined it over the fence in the right field corner. The Cardinals had won 5-4.
(Kolten Wong wins Game 2 for the Cardinals with a homer. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
The next three games shifted to San Francisco. The hometown Giants got four runs in the top of the first, all of them with two out. Hunter Pence drove in two with a double, and after an intentional walk to load the bases, Travis Ishikawa hit a double of his own that narrowly missed a grand slam. He would have his moment of glory later in the series.
But the Cardinals rallied, getting the score back to within a run, and then in the seventh, Randal Grichuk homered to tie it at 4-4. The Giants had blown the lead this time.
(Randal Grichuk ties Game 3 with a homer in the seventh. Photo courtesy of USA Today.)
The score stayed tied into the bottom of the tenth. Sidearm reliever – and lefty – Randy Choate took the hill. He issued a leadoff walk to Brandon Crawford and Juan Perez singled. Gregor Blanco was asked to bunt. He laid one down perfectly, which would advance both runners. Choate fielded the ball – and threw it down the line into the Cardinals bullpen. The throw sailed past Wong, covering first base as is common in that situation, and Crawford scored for some late inning San Francisco magic.
(As Brandon Crawford scores behind him, Randy Choate laments his throwing error to lose Game 3. Photo courtesy of Washington Post.)
(Full video of the play. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
After trading runs in the first five innings, the Giants eked out three in the bottom of the sixth to win 6-4. Two of those three runs came on groundouts or hits that didn’t leave the infield. Once again, the Giants were one win away from the pennant.
It looked like St. Louis would force it back home. Bumgarner and Wainwright faced off, and heading into the bottom of the eighth, Wainwright’s Cardinals had a 3-2 lead. Despite this, Bumgarner had retired thirteen straight batters to finish his night. In the top of the eighth, Pat Neshek was asked to hold the lead for St. Louis. He couldn’t do it, as Michael Morse knocked a homer to tie the game at 3-3.
(Michael Morse tied Game 5 in the eighth with a home run. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
The score stayed tied into the bottom of the ninth. In a tragic foreshadowing (more on that later), Oscar Taveras would make the final out for the Cardinals in the inning. Michael Wacha was brought in out of the bullpen to try to save the season for the Cardinals. Two batters reached. It was up to Travis Ishikawa with one out. He had been a journeyman for most of his career, playing on the 2010 championship (not the 2012 team), but he had been traded, re-acquired, sent down to the minors, and called back up again. Whatever good contributions he made were largely as a pinch-hitter, as he was considered a defensive liability. On a 2-0 pitch from Wacha, Ishikawa lined it to right. It sailed into the bleachers above the alcove of McCovey Cove. In a moment reminiscent of Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” Ishikawa had done the same thing. Joe Buck made the same call: “The Giants win the pennant!” Coming into the game, the Giants had struggled for home runs all year. Their third of the game gave them their third pennant in five years.
(Travis Ishikawa wins the pennant for San Francisco with a home run. Photo courtesy of Sacramento Bee.)
(The video of Ishikawa’s pennant-winning home run. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
It was certainly an odd matchup – a budding dynasty in the Pacific versus a frustrated, resurgent team from Middle America. Few expected much from the Series. But as it turned out, the two teams put on a great show.
Opening at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, “Big Game” James Shields got the call for the Royals in the opener, facing Madison Bumgarner. It was probably too tall of an order for Shields, facing one of the great postseason pitchers. In the top of the first, Shields immediately ran into trouble. Pablo Sandoval, “The Big Panda,” was at bat with runners at the corners and one out. He doubled to right, scoring Gregor Blanco. The Royals did get some luck, as Buster Posey was thrown out at home for the second out. It brought up Hunter Pence. He followed with a two-run home run to make it 3-0 before the Royals had even come to bat.
(Hunter Pence’s first inning home run jumped started the Giants in the opener. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
It would be all the offense Bumgarner needed, although the Royals put a scare into him in the first, after Lorenzo Cain reached. It would take a great catch of Hosmer’s line drive to end the inning. The Royals also blew a chance in the third – they had first and second with nobody out, and bases loaded with two out. But Hosmer grounded out to end the inning. Shields was knocked out of the game in the fourth, scoring two more runs. It would get to 7-0 in the seventh inning, after the usually sure-handed Royals misplayed a fly ball, scoring a run. Against reliever Tim Collins, a single drove in the final Giants run. The Royals finally got on the board in the bottom of the seventh, when catcher Salvador Perez hit a home run. It would be the only run allowed by Bumgarner in the series. The final score was 7-1, and the Giants seemed ready to run over the underdog Royals.
(Salvador Perez got the Royals on the board with a home run in Game 1. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Each team got a run in the first inning of Game 2, with the Giants being sparked by Gregor Blanco’s leadoff homer. It was the last home run for San Francisco in the entire Series. The Royals took their first lead of the Series in the second, when Alcides Escobar drove in Omar Infante. Doubles by Sandoval and Belt tied the game, although Belt was doubled off on a fly ball later in the inning. Ventura would go 5.1 innings, earning a no-decision. Kelvin Herrera would escape a two on, one out jam.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Royals broke through. Cain led off with a single and Hosmer walked. Former Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy was replaced by Jean Machi, who allowed the go-ahead (and winning run in this game) to score on a single by DH Billy Butler.
(Billy Butler drives in what would prove to be the winning run in Game 2. Photo courtesy of http://www.nj.com.)
The Royals would keep going, as it turned out. After an out, Hunter Strickland was brought in, who threw a wild pitch to send the runners to second and third. Perez followed with a single to make it 5-2. Then Omar Infante, not known for his homers, did just that and hit one over the left field fence to make it 7-2. Understandably frustrated, Strickland and Perez got into a shouting match as the latter crossed home plate, clearing the dugouts but avoiding a brawl. Despite chances from both teams, neither would score again. Greg Holland struck out the side in the top of the ninth, and the Royals evened it up, one game apiece. It would be a Series after all.
(You can see Salvador Perez questioning pitcher Hunter Strickland, as Infante crosses home plate and Buster Posey looks on. Photo courtesy of Kansas City Star.)
Shifting to San Francisco, 39-year-old Tim Hudson, once associated on the other side of the Bay with Oakland, made his World Series debut. Kansas City used small ball to score in the top of the first. Escobar doubled and later scored on consecutive groundouts. In the top of the sixth, the Royals score twice more, with Eric Hosmer breaking a slump by driving in Alex Gordon after an eleven pitch at-bat, singling to center. It took on added significance because the Giants scored twice to make it 3-2. But the Royals bullpen, one of their big strength, backed up little-known journeyman starter Jeremy Guthrie and kept Kansas City in the lead. Greg Holland got the save, and the Royals were shockingly ahead of the Giants, 2-1.
In the third inning of Game 4, it looked like Kansas City might be on the verge of a shocking 3-1 series lead, taking a 4-1 lead in the third inning. But the Giants rallied to score in that inning, and Kansas City wouldn’t get anymore in the inning. San Francisco tied it in the fifth, and then kept on scoring – nine runs over the next three innings, none of them via home run. Small ball would be the name of the Series (which in my opinion, was all the better for it). This time, the Royals had their bullpen battered, and the Giants evened the series at two games apiece, 11-4.
In Game 5, Bumgarner beat Shields again, 5-0. He threw a complete-game shutout, the first in the Fall Classic since 2003 (and San Francisco’s first since Jack Sanford did it in 1962). Only in the fifth inning was he in trouble, but he easily got out of it. The Royals managed only four hits. It was still only 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth, when light-hitting Juan Perez doubled in two more and advanced to third on an error. Crawford drove in Perez to finish the scoring. The Giants were up 3-2, needing only to win one more game for the title.
(Lesser-known Juan Perez drove in two runs in Game 5 to break the game open. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
For Juan Perez, it was a very emotional moment. They wouldn’t find out until later, but baseball lost one of their own. Having played against them in the NLCS, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, still only a rookie, had smacked a clutch home run in NLCS Game 2. But he would never see a second season. On the freeway in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, both Taveras and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident in the middle of Game 5. He was only 22 years old. For the second time in less than a decade, alcohol would claim a Cardinals player in a car accident, prompting GM John Mozeliak to make some changes.
(In the middle of Game 5, Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Photo courtesy of ESPN.)
Taveras was honored with a moment of silence before Game 6 back in Kansas City. Fellow countryman Yordano Ventura wrote “RIP O.T. 18,” a reference to the jersey number, on his hat. Ventura was dominant, and the offense backed him up, knocking out Jake Peavy in the second inning, scoring seven runs in the inning, one of which was fluke single that took a high hop and inexplicably bounced over the head of Brandon Crawford at short (called a “Baltimore chop” in baseball slang). Mike Moustakas homered later, and the Royals forced a Game 7 with a 10-0 rout.
(Mike Moustakas homered to clinch Game 6 for the Royals, 10-0. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
(Winning pitcher Yordano Ventura honored the memory Oscar Taveras with a dedication on his hat during Game 6. Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.)
It would be Jeremy Guthrie against Tim Hudson in Game 7. Neither team scored in the first inning. San Francisco broke through in the top of the second with a pair of runs. They had loaded the bases with no out, and consecutive sacrifice flies got the runs home. But the Royals tied the score in the second, as Alex Gordon drove in slow-footed Billy Butler with a double, and then the Royals got a sacrifice fly of their own to tie it 2-2. Hudson was relieved in the second inning – in a Game 7, it’s all hands on deck. Jeremy Affeldt got out of the inning. In the third, it looked like Hosmer had beaten out a fielder’s choice, sliding headfirst into first base, but for the first time in the World Series, challenges were available. Bruce Bochy did indeed challenge, and won – Hosmer was out on a double play.
(On a narrow play, Eric Hosmer is retired at first base in the third inning of Game 7. Photo courtesy of Kansas City Star.)
In the fourth, the Giants put runners at the corners with one out. Guthrie was replaced by Herrera. Unfortunately, Michael Morse would put the Giants ahead 3-2 with a single, what would prove to be the Series-winning run. Even more painfully, it was on an 0-2 pitch.
(Michael Morse drives in what would prove to be the Series-winning run in the top of the fourth inning. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Examiner.)
After Affeldt got through the fourth, the Giants unleashed the MadBum one more time. Bumgarner came in on only two days’ rest, trying to pitch the Giants to the title. He allowed a hit to Infante…but then settled down, and retired fourteen straight batters. The Royals were running out of outs.
(Madison Bumgarner was dominant in the 2014 World Series, en route to MVP honors. Photo courtesy of CBS Sports.)
Coming into the bottom of the ninth, the scoreline was still 3-2. Bumgarner was still on the mound. He retired the first two batters. Alex Gordon was the last hope. He hit a line drive to left-center. This time, Gregor Blanco misplayed the ball, and Gordon would end up on third, representing the tying run. It would go down as a single and an error, but the Royals were still in it. Many wondered why Gordon didn’t try to score. But it was probably the wise play, considering the Giants were getting the ball back into the infield, and Crawford was known for having a good arm. In any event, the Royals were alive.
(Alex Gordon reaches to represent the tying run in Game 7. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Now Salvador Perez came up. Earlier in the game, he had been hit by a pitch and almost left the game. As a catcher, his knees were killing him. But he stood in. He worked the count to 2-2. Bumgarner threw a high fastball to Perez, in his zone. Perez popped it up into foul territory. It was an easy play for Sandoval, who fell to the ground in jubilation. The Giants had won their third title in five seasons. The Royals were forced to watch as the other team celebrated, falling short my mere inches. And the “MadBum” took home deserved MVP honors.
(The Giants celebrate the 2014 World Series title. Photo courtesy of New York Times.)
This was the Giants’ eighth title overall, and third in five years. The Royals won their third pennant in team history.
The Giants’ victory in Game 1 snapped an eleven-game postseason winning streak for the Royals, including the last three games of the 1985 World Series.
San Francisco became the first team to win a Game 7 on the road since 1979, when the Pirates did it against the Orioles.
Madison Bumgarner has the lowest ERA of any pitcher in World Series history with a minimum of 25 innings pitched – 0.25. He set a record by throwing 52.2 scoreless innings in the postseason.
Although Bumgarner was originally credited with the win in Game 7, a scoring change gave it to Jeremy Affeldt, meaning he was credited with the win in the clincher in both the NLCS and World Series.
Brandon Crawford’s grand slam in the NL Wild Card game is the first postseason grand slam ever hit by a shortstop. Even a pitcher had done it – Dave McNally in the 1970 World Series against the Reds.
Salvador Perez set a record for catchers by starting 158 games, regular and postseason. His backup Erik Kratz didn’t see any action in the postseason.
Tim Hudson became the oldest pitcher (39 years old) to start a Game 7 in World Series history.
This was the first time in World Series history that both teams came in with fewer than 90 wins without a strike interrupting the season (the Royals were 89-73 and the Giants were 88-74).
Bruce Bochy became the tenth manager to win three championships. All of the other nine are in the Hall of Fame.
This was the second time that both Wild Card teams made the Series (the first, in 2002, also involved the Giants, who lost in seven games to the Angels). Because of the extra play-in game, the Giants are the first team to win twelve games in one postseason.
The Giants franchise earned its first World Series Game 7 win, having lost four previous times. (In an interesting parallel, both the Red Sox and Giants are 1-4 in Game 7s, and both have won eight titles. Now I really wish that 1904 series had been played, to see what would have happened.)
No home runs were hit for three straight games (Games 3 through 5), the first time it had happened since 1948.
Additionally, this was the first time since 1957 that consecutive shutouts were thrown by opposing teams. The Giants shut out the Royals in Game 5 and the Royals returned the favor in Game 6.
“Three in five” was the rallying cry, and it worked. The Giants had continued their even-numbered year dominance in the decade of the 2010s. The Royals had fallen just short. But their coronation was just around the corner.
References and Sources
Daily Herald (Chicago)
Kansas City Star.
San Francisco Examiner.
New York Times.
New York Daily News.
The Seventh Game (Barry Levenson)
The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia (Robert Schnakenberg)
The Ultimate Book of Sports Lists (Andrew Postman, Larry Stone)