By Ron Griffitts
In October 2014, the San Francisco Giants (88-74) with manager Bruce Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean met the Kansas City Royals (89-73) managed by Ned Yost with general manager Dayton Moore.
Both teams held wild card spots in the playoffs with the Giants dispatching the Pirates 8-0 in their wild card game and Kansas City getting past the Oakland Athletics 9-8 in twelve innings to advance to the division round past the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 and the Baltimore Orioles 4-0.
San Francisco got past the Washington Nationals 3-1 and the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 to advance to the World Series.
The Giants were again led by catcher Buster Posey (22 HR, 89 RBI, and .311 BA) as well as Hunter Pence (20 HR, 105 RBI) and Angel Pagan (.300). Their pitching staff was headed by Madison Baumgarner 18-10, 2.98 ERA, Tim Lincecum 12-9 and Jake Peavy 6-4, 2.17 ERA obtained from the Red Sox in the middle of the season, and in the bullpen Sergio Romo 6-4 with 23 saves.
Kansas City was paced by catcher Salvador Perez (17 HR, 70 RBI), Lorenzo Cain (.301 BA, 28 SB), Alex Gordon ( 19 HR, 74 RBI, 87 RS) and Alcides Escobar ( 31 SB).
Their pitching staff was led by James Shields 14-8, Jeremy Guthrie 13-11, Jason Vargas 11-10 and Yordano Ventura 14-10 with Greg Holland in the bullpen with 46 saves and a 1.44 ERA.
The Giants got out to a good start in game one at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, helped by a Hunter Pence two run home run in the first inning to go on to a 7-0 seventh inning lead and a 7-1 victory behind the three hit seven inning pitching of Madison Baumgarner.
Current Reds’ reliever Hunter Strickland pitched the ninth inning for the Giants.
In game two, the Royals responded with a five run barrage in the bottom of the sixth inning keyed by an Omar Infante two run home run and went on to tie the series a game each with a 7-2 win.
In game three the venue changed to AT & T Park in San Francisco in which five Royal pitchers held the Giants to four hits and two runs on their way to a 3-2 win with an Eric Hosmer single to score Alex Gordon in the top of the sixth being the winning score. Kansas City led the series 2-1.
San Francisco scored eleven runs against five Royal pitchers on their way to an 11-4 win powered by Hunter Pence’s three hits, three RBI’s and two runs scored and the series is tied at two games each.
Odd number games in a series are always important as in this one where the teams were 2-2. Whoever wins goes up 3-2. The game one starters James Shields and Madison Baumgarner were back with similar results as Baumgarner scattered four hits for a complete game 5-0 win. And immediately buzz started among the press about his availability for game seven if needed.
Back in Kansas City for game six, the Royals erupted for ten runs with the help of three RBI’s by Lorenzo Cain and a solo home run by current Cincinnati Red Mike Moutakas and the seven inning three hit pitching of Yordano Ventura put together a 10-0 win to even the series at three each and set up the seventh game.
The question before the game was how would Madison Baumgarner be used. That question was answered in the fourth inning after Mike Morse singled in Pablo Sandoval for a 3-2 Giants’ lead and after Jeremy Affelt pitched a scoreless bottom of the fourth, manager Bruce Bochy decided to send out Baumgarner to win the game and World Series for the Giants.
Despite pitching on only two days rest he was able to pitch five scoreless two hit innings for a 3-2 victory to win the game and the series.
The 2014 series could be called the “Madison Baumgarner” World Series, he was so dominant with his pitching that it wasdiscussed by the press and fans during that fall classic.
Baumgarner got the series MVP and is still active in the major leagues today. The Giants have not been back to a World Series since 2014 but the Royals were back the next year.
For the Giants it was their third World Series title in five years and brought the franchise total to eight, tied for fifth with the Dodgers among all major league teams.
Statistics for this article were from baseball-reference.com.