KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The magic that was the 2014 season for the Royals finally came crashing to an end in Game 7 of the World Series.
The Royals fought valiantly and stayed close to the Giants, trailing only 3-2 through 4 1/2 innings. But then the difference in the Series entered the game — the Giants’ virtually unhittable Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner was supposed to throw only 40 or so pitches or three innings, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy rode Bumgarner for the game’s final five innings. And the Royals had no chance, losing 3-2.
Bumgarner, you’ll recall, threw 117 pitches in a shutout Sunday, but came back on just two days’ rest and stymied the Royals again.
Still, it was a tremendously successful season for the young Royals, who won a total of 100 games, including the postseason, and can proudly fly the American League championship banner.
— Kelvin Herrera. Herrera came in for starter Jeremy Guthrie and entered a tough spot — one out and runners on the corners with the score tied. Herrera jammed Michael Morse on a 1-2 pitch and Morse broke his bat — but, unfortunately, the ball floated into right field for an RBI single, which again put runners on the corners. But Herrera got a big strikeout of Brandon Crawford, and then got Juan Perez to ground out. Herrera then threw two more shutout innings, striking out three, and kept the Royals in it at 3-2. Terrific job.
— Wade Davis. The Royals can’t complain about the job they got backing up Guthrie as Davis followed Herrera and turned in two terrific innings. Davis faced seven hitters and struck out three, giving up no runs.
— The Panik play. If the game turned on any one play, it was the Joe Panik play in the Royals’ third inning. Lorenzo Cain had led off with a single to right. That brought up Eric Hosmer, who ripped a grounder headed for center field. Panik, the Giants’ rookie second baseman, dived to his right and made a great stab. He then flipped the ball with his glove to Crawford, who threw to first. Hosmer initially was called safe, but the call was reversed on a challenge by the Giants. If Hosmer’s ball had been two more inches to Panik’s right, the Royals would have had runners at first and third and none out. Who knows how the game could have switched then?
— The Esky bunt. It will be interesting to learn if the Alcides Escobar bunt in the fifth inning was his idea or manager Ned Yost’s. Infante had led off with a single against the mighty Madison Bumgarner, who seemed to be uncomfortable on the mound and didn’t have his usual sharp command to Infante. Sure enough, Bumgarner fell behind Esky 2-0, yet he bunted and gave the Giants and Bumgarner a free out. Bumgarner also fell behind Nori Aoki 2-0. But Bumgarner got a break when Aoki lined out hard to left for the second out. Cain then struck out.