KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – After long waits to make their World Series debuts, Royals veteran Jeremy Guthrie and Giants counterpart Tim Hudson will get one more opportunity Wednesday night.
This time, they’ll have everything on the line.
Guthrie, who had never pitched in the postseason before this year, will be on the mound for Kansas City in Game 7. He will once again be going against the 39-year-old Hudson, who finally made it to the World Series with San Francisco after 16 seasons in the majors.
Now, Hudson is set to become the oldest Game 7 starter in Series history.
Of course, there’s a little more at stake than the first time they met.
The 35-year-old Guthrie helped pitch Kansas City to a 3-2 victory last Friday night in San Francisco, giving the Royals a 2-1 lead in the Series. But after the Giants rallied to win the next two games at home, the teams returned to Kansas City with the Royals needing a victory to force Game 7.
They got it – a 10-0 rout – behind a resurgent offense that relentlessly peppered Giants starter Jake Peavy and reliever Yusmeiro Petit, and a brilliant start by young flamethrower Yordano Ventura.
”We’re confident,” Kansas City’s Billy Butler said. ”Jeremy, every time out, gives us a chance to win.”
Hudson was nearly as good as Guthrie his first time out, allowing three runs and four hits while pitching into the sixth inning. But when the Giants were unable to score a tying run off the Kansas City bullpen on Friday night, the veteran right-hander was stuck with the loss.
Now, he has a chance to bag the biggest win possible.
”I’m no different than anybody else. As a kid, you think about it. As a big leaguer, you think about it,” Hudson said. ”You wonder if you’re going to have an opportunity to do it. Sixteen years in the big leagues, I’m finally getting that chance. I can’t wait to get out there and have some fun.”
If Hudson gets into trouble, Giants manager Bruce Bochy can turn to a bullpen that shut down the Royals in San Francisco. And it should be even stronger with ace Madison Bumgarner, who won Game 1 and pitched a shutout in Game 5, available for a relief stint.
Bumgarner has allowed one run over 16 innings in his two starts against Kansas City.
”We’ll see where he’s at and how he’s doing out there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ”I can’t tell you exactly how far he could go or how many pitches he could go. I think you read him and see how he’s doing out there.”
Asked what his pitch limit might be Wednesday night, Bumgarner gave a predictably preposterous answer.
”I said maybe 200. No, I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’m going to be called on. But if you are, as long as you’re getting outs and you’re not hurting …,” he said.
First things first, though: Bumgarner is excited for his pal Hudson.
”There couldn’t be a better story for Huddy. I know he’s going to be ready,” Bumgarner said.
The Royals will also have a fresh bullpen after Ventura’s sublime start. Kansas City manager Ned Yost has even said his star trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and All-Star closer Greg Holland would be available to pitch two innings apiece if needed.
”This is what we all prepared for. This is why we play the game,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
The Royals also will have a bit of history on their side.
When they were last in the World Series in 1985, they also faced a 3-2 deficit returning home against St. Louis. They won Game 6, made famous by umpire Don Denkinger’s blown call at first base, and then took Game 7 in an 11-0 rout for their only championship.
Home teams have won nine straight Game 7s in the Series since Pittsburgh’s victory at Baltimore in 1979. And the Giants have lost all four of their World Series finales pushed to the limit.
”A lot of guys had this weird feeling it would come to this,” Giants outfielder Hunter Pence said, ”and here we are.”
Teams with the home-field advantage have won 23 of the last 28 titles, including five in a row. This Series has followed the exact pattern of the only other all-wild card matchup in 2002, when the Giants won the opener, fell behind 2-1, took a 3-2 lead and lost the last two games at Anaheim.
The Giants, meanwhile, had a 3-2 lead this year for the third time in franchise history. Just like in 1924 and 2002, they lost Game 6. Both of those years, they lost Game 7 as well.
”We’re going to make history. The only way to make history is to win,” Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson said.