They made a mockery out of the home-field advantage. They finished six games out of first place. Their best player was missing in action during the World Series.
Yeah, all that and $8 will get you a bunch of garlic fries at AT&T Park — the home of the World Series champions, for the third time in five years.
“In this day and age?” catcher Buster Posey said. “If it’s not, it’s as close as you’re going to get.”
The San Francisco Giants reign over baseball yet again, after ace Madison Bumgarner emerged from the bullpen to throw five shutout innings and third baseman Pablo Sandoval collected three hits in a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. The Giants became the first road team to win Game 7 since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Giants won 88 games in the regular season — fourth-lowest for a World Series champion — but they became the first team to win 12 games in the postseason. The Pirates had the home field for the National League wild-card playoff. The Washington Nationals had the home-field edge for the division series, the St. Louis Cardinals for the league championship series, the Royals for the World Series.
And, as the Giants prepare for the parade that has become an every-other-year rite of autumn, they can delight in the fact that they have won as many World Series titles in the last five years as the other four California teams have combined to win in the last 33 years.
“If you win three, I think it’s a dynasty,” Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt said. “I definitely wouldn’t say no.”
Sandoval, the most valuable player of the 2012 World Series, batted .429 in this one. He had more hits — 26 — than anyone in a single postseason. He had no chance at the MVP award this time, because Bumgarner threw more innings than anyone in a single postseason — 522/3 — and because he gave up one run in 21 innings in the World Series.
His earned-run average in this World Series: 0.43.
The season ended with the tying run on third base. After Alex Gordon singled with two out in the ninth — and took third on a fielding error by center fielder Gregor Blanco — Bumgarner calmly got the final batter, Salvador Perez, to foul out to Sandoval, who joyously fell on his rear end after catching the ball.
Bumgarner has pitched in three World Series and given up one earned run in 36 innings. His ERA: 0.25, the lowest of anyone ever to throw so many innings in Series play.
“He’s amazing,” said Tim Hudson, who started for the Giants but lasted only 12/3 innings. Bumgarner got 15 outs as a reliever in Game 7, six more than the Giants’ last two starters — Hudson and Jake Peavy — combined to get in Games 6 and 7.
“He’s a true warrior,” Hudson added of the 25-year-old ace. “He has the pedigree of some of the best ever to play the game. And he’s still young. He’s going to go down as one of the best ever to play the game.”
Affeldt relieved Hudson in the second inning and set down the Royals in the third. When Affeldt asked pitching coach Dave Righetti if he should go out for the fourth inning, Righetti told him yes — the fourth inning would be his, and the rest of the game would belong to Bumgarner.
Bumgarner ambled out of the bullpen to start the fifth inning, with a one-run lead. He gave up a single to the first batter he faced, then retired the next 14 batters. That gave him five shutout innings in Game 7, and 14 shutout innings within four days.
“I can’t lie to you any more,” Bumgarner said. “I’m a little tired.”
The Giants got nothing out of their best player, Posey, who batted .154 in the World Series and did not have an extra-base hit in 69 postseason at-bats.
They got nothing out of their starting pitchers beyond Bumgarner. Hudson, Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong combined to go 0-3 with a 9.35 ERA in 171/3 innings — 32/3 fewer than Bumgarner pitched all by himself, in a Series he practically won all by himself.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever see that again,” Affeldt said. “That is a Hall of Fame performance.”