KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Despite facing a pitcher in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches in MLB postseason history, the Kansas City Royals were 90 feet from tying Game 7 of the World Series in the bottom of the ninth inning. Down to their final out, Alex Gordon kept the Royals’ hopes alive with a base hit to center field, followed by a mad dash to third base when the ball skipped to the outfield wall.
Salvador Perez stepped up to the plate as the only player to ever leave a blemish on Madison Bumgarner’s score line in the World Series, but a repeat of Game 1’s home run didn’t happen Wednesday night. Bumgarner completed his fifth inning of scoreless relief by getting Perez to pop out in foul ground, and the San Francisco Giants earned a third World Series title in five years with a 3-2 win.
The loss ended Kansas City’s dream postseason run one win short of the club’s second World Series championship, but Billy Butler said the defeat didn’t take anything away from the magical month the team had.
"I think for everybody in here it was the best 30 days of their life, the best 30-day run of any of our careers. I couldn't be more proud to be associated with this group in here, it's unfortunate that we fell a little bit short. We've got nothing to be ashamed of, we left it all out there," Butler said.
ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain said the team gave its best effort, but had to tip his hat to Bumgarner.
"He's just a real good pitcher, no missing element (on our part). We played a lot of good teams leading up to this point, we beat them all so, no missing element he's just a good pitcher," Cain said.
Bumgarner was named the World Series MVP for orchestrating three of the Giants’ four wins in the series. The left hander earned a save in Game 7 after getting wins in Games 1 and 5. He was sharp in every appearance, striking out 17 Royals against one walk and he only allowed nine hits in 21 innings pitched.
Following the stinging defeat, Gordon focused on the big picture from the team’s playoff run and said it should lead to future success.
"We'll recover from this. Obviously it's a tough loss, we'll bounce back, look forward to the next season, you know, probably have a little more confidence going into next year," he said.
Manager Ned Yost said during his postgame press conference that one of the toughest things about the loss was nearly reaching the pinnacle, only to lose and have to start all over. Butler said now that this team has proven itself, expectations change for next season.
"We gotta go out next year and prove that we can get back to the playoffs. That's the way baseball is, everybody starts out zero and zero next April, and that's the reason baseball gives you 162 games to separate the best teams,” Butler said.
General Manager Dayton Moore said the playoff experience was priceless, and expects growth from a young roster.
"Nothing beats our playoff run, that type of experience, the way we played and certainly battling every single pitch of Game 7 of the World Series is something that every single one of these players will be able to draw from and utilize going forward," Moore said. "Those guys are still very young, there's a lot of upside, and you know, they're gonna just keep getting better.”