Five years ago, the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals battled it out in one of the most thrilling World Series in recent memory. In Game 7, Madison Bumgarner stole the show.
It was Game 7 of the 2014 World Series when the San Francisco Giants turned to ace Madison Bumgarner for five of the biggest innings in his career, and possibly the biggest outing in franchise history.
With the game and the series on the line, the Giants looked to their workhorse to protect a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The 25-year-old had already pitched 265 cumulative innings to that point through the regular and postseason, and he had just thrown nine shutout innings on 117 pitches in Game 5.
He responded with five shutout innings of pure brilliance.
And it was anything but a standard five-inning appearance. It was five innings through which he held a one-run lead to earn the save and secure a World Series title for the third time in five seasons.
In the end, Bumgarner held the Royals to just two hits over those five innings, accumulating four strikeouts along the way.
He allowed a hit to his first batter faced in the fifth inning when Omar Infante took a 1-1 pitch into right field for a base hit. Then nothing until he surrendered a two-out hit to Alex Gordon in the bottom of the ninth inning.
No walks, no hit batters, nothing.
Just two measly hits.
The pitching performance was phenomenal in of itself, but some may forget some of the extra details that added to the challenge for Bumgarner.
The 2014 Kansas City Royals were built to get on base and run like there was no tomorrow.
Along with having the fourth-highest batting average (.263) in the majors during the regular season, the team also had three speedsters with over 25 stolen bases in Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Jarrod Dyson en route to leading the majors as a team with 153 steals.
Those speed demons were kept at bay and not allowed to do their damage on the base paths.
His 2014 Game 7 appearance was the first time Bumgarner had pitched out of the bullpen since Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS when he pitched the fifth and sixth innings en route to a win, thereby advancing past the Philadelphia Phillies en route to their first World Series since moving to San Francisco.
That means Bumgarner had a four-year gap between relief appearances, and yet he did not flinch.
His grit and determination on October 29, 2019, allowed the Giants to ride a one-run lead into the history books.
While San Francisco Giants fans await a decision on Bumgarner’s future with the team this offseason, we continue to celebrate this moment and many of the others by the kid from Hickory, North Carolina.