The San Francisco Giants look to win their third championship in five years. But knocking off the Kansas City Royals won’t be easy.
The Royals forced a Game 7 with a 10-0 thrashing of the Giants on Tuesday night. They also head into Wednesday night’s title game with a good omen: Home teams have won nine straight Game 7s in the World Series. The last time a visiting team won was back in 1979, when Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore.
Kansas City's only other World Series Game 7 was an 11-0 romp over St. Louis in 1985.
Here are four things to know:
Pressure on Hudson, Guthrie
No two players will face more pressure than the starting pitchers. The Giants’ Tim Hudson is especially notable. At 39, Hudson will be the oldest pitcher to ever start a Game 7 of a World Series. Despite losing Game 3 to Royals counterpart Jeremy Guthrie, Hudson was sharp, allowing three runs on four hits in sixth innings of work. Hudson, who is in the World Series for the first time in his career, has yet to earn a win in this post-season, although his two starts against Washington and St. Louis resulted in Giant victories. Guthrie, 35, is no spring chicken himself and is a post-season rookie. But his Game 3 effort, where he allowed only two runs in five innings, gave the Royals a 2-1 series lead before the Giants stormed back with two straight wins.
Pulling out all stops
In a Game 7 of any playoff series, you pull out all the stops. In the case of the Giants, that could mean using ace extraordinare Madison Bumgarner, who recently pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 5 on Sunday. Bumgarner plans to be in the bullpen and wants the ball should the Giants need him to get an out or two. Bumgarner's performances in the World Series have taken on legendary status. He recorded the first World Series shutout in 11 years. Bumgarner is 4-0 in World Series starts, and holds the record for lowest ERA (0.29) with pitchers throwing at least 30 innings. However, if the Giants go on to lose, manager Bruce Bochy may be second-guessed for not starting Bumgarner in Game 4, which would’ve made the lefty available to start Game 7.
The Royals' hope is that Guthrie pitches six innings with the team leading. That’s because the script that has played out throughout the post-season will take shape should this scenario play out. Relievers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland would then occupy the next three respective innings. All three relief pitchers have been lights out and are a big reason the Royals are one game away from the franchise’s second World Series title.
Game 7 heroes
Game 7s always produce heroes. The big question is which player will it be in this series? There have been some memorable Game 7 moments over the years. The Pirates' Bill Mazeroski defeated the New York Yankees with the only Game 7 walk-off home run in Series history in 1960. Jack Morris tossed a complete-game, 10-inning shutout for the Twins in 1991 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Arizona’s Luis Gonzalez sent the Diamondbacks to a title with a walk-off hit off Yankees future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera in 2001.