RENEE MONTAGNE, BYLINE: In a real nail-biter the San Francisco Giants won the World Series last night and continued their even-year magic. The Giants followed up their 2010 and 2012 championships with the 2014 title, beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in Kansas City. San Francisco is the first team since 1979 to win a clinching Game 7 on the road and the star, as he's been throughout the series, was Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner.
From Kansas City, NPR's Tom Goldman reports.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Will he? Should he? The debate about Madison Bumgarner pitching again after his Sunday shutout masterpiece consumed the World Series leading up to last night. An appearance would mean he'd take the mound without a normal period of rest. He did, in the bottom of the fifth inning with San Francisco leading 3-2. The lanky lefty walked to the mound and Kathleen Kunkler braced. Like many of the blue-clad Royals fans, Kunkler was at this very stadium 29 years ago when the Royals won Game 7, the last time they won a World Series.
KATHLEEN KUNKLER: I got dirt in a jar from the pitcher's mound.
GOLDMAN: And now nearly three decades later, Bumgarner, who'd allowed one KC run in 16 innings was back on that mound. Kunkler was nervous.
KUNKLER: I wish we had a run up on him. I don't like the fact that we're down. The whole stadium doesn't like that.
GOLDMAN: Actually, not the whole stadium. Up in section 302, a big group of Giants fans loved Bumgarner with the lead and the cheers in 302 grew with each Royals strikeout, ground ball, pop fly. The 25-year-old with a sweeping left-handed delivery kept delivering until there he was, still on the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning, still with that 3-2 lead. The Royals' Alex Gordon was up to bat two outs when stunningly, Bumgarner's pitch was headed for the outfield.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Announcing) Triple. Triple by Gordon.
GOLDMAN: In fact, it should've been a single, but Giants centerfielder Gregor Blanco misplayed it when he first broke toward the ball.
GREGOR BLANCO: As soon as I started going, I said to myself, you're doing the wrong thing, you've got to stay back to keep it in front of you, but it was too late.
GOLDMAN: The ball got past Blanco. Teammate Juan Perez chased it down but bobbled it near the wall and suddenly eyes everywhere got very wide, thinking Gordon head down and sprinting, might come all the way home. Even the unflappable Bumgarner flapped a bit.
MADISON BUMGARNER: You know, I was starting to get a little nervous. You know, he can run a little bit and this is a big outfield so...
GOLDMAN: Perez got the ball in and Gordon was held at third base. The tying run was 90 feet from home plate and batter Salvador Perez had the kind of power that could win the game with one swing. But Bumgardner got him to pop out and Kauffman Stadium fell silent - except of course, section 302.
GOLDMAN: In the aftermath, Royals manager Ned Yost was proud of his team and praising of the other.
NED YOST: What happened was they outperformed us in 4 out of the 7 games. You know, it was good baseball and they beat us.
GOLDMAN: Bumgarner, to no one's surprise, won the MVP award. His World Series performance in three games was one of the greatest ever and after putting an emphatic end to the short rest debate, the truth.
BUMGARNER: You know what? I can't lie to you anymore. I'm a little tired now.
GOLDMAN: There's a good chance though, baseball fans are energized by a pitching phenom who's not yet reached his prime, by a budding Giants dynasty and by a Royals team that seems unlikely to make its fans wait another 29 years for playoff thrills.
Tom Goldman, NPR News, Kansas City.
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