Bumgarner enters Game 7 vs Royals: 'Like John Wayne was coming out'

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Bumgarner enters Game 7 vs Royals: 'Like John Wayne was coming out'

SAN FRANCISCO — A sellout crowd didn’t immediately leave the park after Game 5 of the 2014 World Series. Madison Bumgarner had just thrown a 119-pitch shutout, and the fans stood in front of their seats, chanting “MVP” and waving orange rally towels as Bumgarner twice stopped and tipped his cap during an interview for the national TV broadcast.

Nobody knew what was coming three nights later, and it didn’t matter. What Bumgarner had already accomplished was historic, and even the Kansas City Royals, a loss from elimination, could recognize that.

As Bumgarner finished his final on-field interview, Royals manager Ned Yost and a PR representative crossed the field so they could enter AT&T Park’s interview room through the home dugout. Yost saw Bumgarner going up the dugout steps and called out to him.

“Hey kid,” he yelled. “Great game.”

Bumgarner didn’t hear him, and Yost called out again. This time Bumgarner turned around. The 59-year-old manager congratulated the 25-year-old ace for all he had accomplished that month.

“You know what?” Yost told Bumgarner. “I sure am glad I don’t have to see you again.”

Bumgarner smiled.

“I think I just laughed it off,” he said last week. “But I was thinking in my head, ‘Man, I don’t know if that’s so true or not.’”

Bumgarner came out of the bullpen in Game 7 and threw 68 pitches over five innings, strangling the life out of a deep lineup that would win the World Series a year later. He carried the Giants to a third World Series title in five seasons. He was named Sportsman of the Year and became a national star. If his career continues on this trajectory, the save in Game 7 will be the moment most often mentioned during his Hall of Fame speech.

On Wednesday, Bumgarner will return to that mound at Kauffman Stadium, but the trip to the rubber will start in the dugout, not the visiting bullpen. As the Giants prepared to return to the site of one of the sport's great postseason performances, they looked back on the moment the bullpen gate swung open and a big left-hander from North Carolina made the impossible look so easy ... 

MANAGER BRUCE BOCHY: “It was going according to the game plan. I just wanted to get through that (fourth) inning so we could have him ready where I wouldn’t have to bring him in in the middle of an inning. I remember going through that so many times before the game in our heads, and with Rags, about how we wanted this to play out if the starter wasn’t out there.”

PITCHING COACH DAVE RIGHETTI: “It was going to be special, because even in our day, these things didn’t happen. You watch the old Yankees highlights from the 50s and 60s and their starters went out of the ‘pen and ended up doing a lot of pitching, but we kind of got away from that. I did that in 1981, pitched the fifth, sixth and seventh, and I think Bum knew about that. We had spoken about it. He knew he was going to pitch somewhere in the middle of the game because of their left-handed hitters. They didn’t want to flip them too early because we had right-handers left in the bullpen.”

RIGHT FIELDER HUNTER PENCE: “I talked to him before the game. He said something like, ‘It’s just a matter of mind.’ He was like, ‘I don’t know why it can’t be done. You’ve just got to make your mind up.’”

BROADCASTER DUANE KUIPER: "He was as personable as he’s ever been in the dugout before that game. It was like he had pitched the day before and he wasn’t going to pitch that day so he could just have fun. He was taking pictures and he was laughing. I remember it vividly. I also remember he was the only player on the (late) bus going to the Wild Card Game last year and he slept. Slept! Going through that tunnel in New York, he just fell asleep. He woke up at the right time." 

FIRST BASEMAN BRANDON BELT: “I couldn’t believe he was coming out again but at the same time I had the utmost confidence that he would do it again in that game. I felt there was no doubt in my mind that he could do that (but) I figured he might come in and pitch like an inning at the most.”

BULLPEN COACH MARK GARDNER: “We already had it planned out pretty much for the whole game, what scenarios we had. It was expected.” 

CATCHER BUSTER POSEY: “I was thinking, man, if we can get him through the seventh that would be great.”

SECOND BASEMAN JOE PANIK: “We all kind of knew what the situation was. If we got a lead that night, it was Madison Time.”

RIGHETTI: “A starter doing that, most of the time it fails. I can remember a lot of failures with a starter going out there and trying to help out and you always in that case want a reliever. But the way he had pitched against them in that series, we thought it was demoralizing, too (for the Royals), just to get him out there and in a game.”

BENCH COACH RON WOTUS: “It was all planned out. It felt like we had not a secret weapon, but an atomic bomb. We knew we had him coming in and we didn’t expect him to finish the game, but you also don’t expect him not to. It was like we were playing poker and we were sitting on a royal flush.”

A night earlier, Bumgarner had drawn the biggest crowd in a clubhouse still processing a 10-0 loss that had “The K” shaking. He had been available for a hitter or two in Game 6, and for several minutes afterward, he patiently answered questions about his availability in Game 7. He shrugged when asked what his pitch count would be. “Maybe 200? I don’t know,” he said. “As long as you get outs, I feel pitch counts are overrated.” As the waves of reporters kept coming, Bumgarner finally was asked about his close friend, Game 7 starter Tim Hudson. His eyes lit up and he nodded appreciatively at the reporter. “I couldn’t be any more excited for him,” he said. 

The Giants knew, however, that Hudson was practically taped together at that point. The plan was for Jeremy Affeldt and Bumgarner to get the ball to to the eighth, where Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla could take over. Bochy and Righetti thought Bumgarner could stretch out to around 70 pitches. The concern was not the end of his night, but rather the beginning. Bumgarner’s routine usually includes more than an hour of pre-start work, half of it in the weight room and half of it on the field.

TRAINER DAVE GROESCHNER: “He’s a very regimented guy when he starts. We did a few things before the game and then we knew he was going to start a fresh inning, so he could do some of his warmup in the bullpen. He did his normal stretching routine like he does before a start, even though he was going to go sit down there for a while. We stretched him out. He does a great job with that stuff, he’s super-conscious of all of that. He spends 25-30 minutes in the weight room doing that stuff every game. He takes over the weight room and does his form running and stretching inside. Over the last few years, he’s gotten into that and he does it all in there. It’s impressive to watch. He’ll do that 35 times a year. He’s got a sheet that he puts down and he just goes down the sheet, one-by-one.”

BOCHY: “My only concern was would he have enough time. He has a pretty long routine that he goes through, and it’s just different when you’re in the bullpen.”

BULLPEN CATCHER TAIRA UEMATSU: “We didn’t do anything special. His stuff was mostly the same stuff he does before the game and between starts. He has a routine that he always does and he was doing just that. I knew he was going to do well when he was doing all the same stuff as usual.” 

GARDNER: “I felt pretty comfortable with him going out there. He’s got his own way of doing things and he’s very independent in that sense. He got right after it in the bullpen.”

RIGHETTI: “As a pitching coach, my only concern was I know what kind of warm-up he normally has. He pitched out of the bullpen before for us in the playoffs in 2010 but still, that was four years later. He really got into a routine the last four or five years. He’ll go out 35-40 minutes before his start and do his thing. My biggest fear was, ‘Is he going to be warmed up enough?’ I know the adrenaline will take care of a lot, but you think you’re warmed up and you’re really not. That was honestly my concern. I gave Gardy a heads up that Jeremy is going back out (for the fourth) so now Bumgarner has got to think about getting ready. I left it up to him based on how his arm feels and how much he was going to throw. That was my number one concern, no question about it, and also whether he would have all three pitches ready.”

MADISON BUMGARNER: “I’ll tell you what, they know what my deal is that I do before I start a game and they made it clear I was going to come in with a clean inning. All I asked was to have enough time. Tell me in plenty enough time if you have an ideal inning that I’m coming into, so I can start ... and they did NOT do that. I had to rush through my warmup. I had to rush through it while trying to not rush through it. I went through it a little faster than I wanted, but I did finish in time.”

At times that night, Bumgarner got up and watched the game while leaning up against the bullpen fence, just as Tim Lincecum had done in Cincinnati two years earlier. As Affeldt faced Mike Moustakas with two outs in the bottom of the fourth and the Giants leading 3-2, Bumgarner sat down between Ryan Vogelsong and Jean Machi. He patted Vogelsong on the leg and then draped his left arm around Machi’s shoulders. 

At 8:46 p.m., Bumgarner got up and started throwing to Uematsu, with Gardner watching closely a few feet away. When Kelvin Herrera froze Posey to end the top of the fifth, Bumgarner tugged his belt into place and started walking toward the gate. At 8:54 p.m., he pulled his cap tighter, took eight big steps out of the bullpen, ducked his head and went into a slow jog toward the mound.

BOCHY: “I just remember the presence. It was like John Wayne was coming out of the bullpen.”

THIRD BASE COACH TIM FLANNERY: “It looked like a gunslinger, like Josey Wales coming out of a bar. I was two-thirds of the way down the dugout rail and these two (Royals fans) kept yelling ‘Give us Bumgarner! Give us Bumgarner! As soon as we went ahead and we knew he was coming out, these guys were yelling it again: ‘Give us Bumgarner!’ I turned around and yelled, ‘You’re getting him now mother——————!’”

PANIK: “I just remember watching him come out of the pen. It’s very rare to see him do that, the first time I’ve ever seen it. He’s got the slow jog going. It just gave you a sense of confidence knowing that he was coming to shut the door.”

PENCE: “It was a slow trot, very steady. It was just like, ‘Here we go!’ He was outstanding the whole series and it was historic, and it was just wild that he was coming back on such short rest. It was like, ‘Here we go, let’s see what we got.’ You slowly witnessed the loud crowd get quieter and quieter and quieter. He pretty much just calmed the storm. There was no emotion. He was just dialed in. He was locked in.”

RIGHETTI: “There were two places where you could tell with the sound. Timmy, pitching in Cincinnati, when he came out of the bullpen and they were still rabid because they had knocked our starter out and as he kept going it got quiet. That was one. I don’t know why those two memories of the crowds stand out. When Bum came out, as it grew, it was the same sound as with Timmy. That din that you heard before, the constant loud on top of the fake music, it went away.”

WOTUS: “I went back and watched it that offseason. They showed the crowd and the faces of fans. It confirmed it. There are guys who have an impact on players, but he had an impact on the stadium and the fans, which you don’t see so often.”

BOCHY: “Here’s this big man who has just had this unbelievable postseason. It just seemed like it sent a sense of confidence through our club, and along with that, you could kind of hear the crowd go, ‘Oh no, here he is.’”

POSEY: “My biggest memory is more auditory than visual. Out of any place I’ve ever been, the energy and life seemed to be sucked out of the crowd. There was a quiet and you could tell there was a nervous energy that kind of came over them. I think it’s something I’ll remember the rest of my life, because it was a really cool moment. It just seemed like however many people were there kind of said, ‘Oh crap, this guy again. We didn’t think we’d see him again.’”

BUMGARNER: “You know, a lot of people said that to me, but I didn’t realize that it got any quieter.”

FLANNERY: “He told everyone behind him, he looked at the guys in the bullpen, and said ‘You’re not going to need your gloves tonight. You’re not pitching. You can put those gloves away.’”

RELIEVER HUNTER STRICKLAND: “I don’t remember that part, but I wouldn’t be surprised. During the Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh, it was the ninth inning and I got up and started to warm up and get hot. He’s on the mound in the middle of the game and he turns around, looks at the bullpen, holds his arm up and signals for me to sit down. In the middle of the game. It was awesome. That’s Madison.”

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO — This spring, Hunter Pence briefly tried to cut back on his coffee intake. The experiment did not last long for a player who is pure caffeine on and off the field, but even Pence is occasionally in need of more than a large cold brew. 

Pence tried to stay upbeat throughout a sluggish start to the season, but around him was a clubhouse in need of energy. Christian Arroyo walked through the door on Monday. Two days later, Michael Morse arrived.

“That’s quite an energy jolt,” Pence said of Arroyo. “Morse, it’s been an energy jolt as well.”

The two recent River Cats sent a pair of jolts through a stadium that was sold out for the 499th consecutive time. Arroyo hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his first in the big leagues. Morse went deep in the eighth for his first big league hit in two years and first homer as a Giant since the 2014 NLCS. 

Pence is close friends with Morse and and admirer of Arroyo, the 21-year-old who has taken a locker a few feet away. He made sure neither jolt went to waste, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Giants a thrilling 4-3 win they hope they can build on.

“That was a shot in the arm,” Morse said.

The big slugger was just that earlier Wednesday. Morse agreed to terms on a minor league deal at Pence’s wedding last winter and he was on track for opening day before a hamstring injury. He was so excited by Wednesday’s call back to San Francisco that he beat Bruce Bochy to the park. The manager tried to lower expectations before the game, telling reporters that Morse would not be a regular starter, especially in left, where the Giants have watched a black hole open. 

Morse was here for the late innings, for the moment when Bochy looks at him and says simply, “Get ready, Mo.” For most of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that big moment wouldn’t come. Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth but he was pulled in the seventh by a Dodgers staff trying to protect his arm. Sergio Romo entered and soon faced a kid who was 19 the first time he walked into Romo’s clubhouse. 

“He’s been doing the same thing in the big leagues with good results for a long time,” Arroyo said. 

Arroyo got the slider that’s always coming, low and away, and he drilled it deep to left-center. He hit only three homers last year but Giants management felt the 36 doubles at Richmond showed a developing power bat. The strength has come quickly, and the ball carried into the first row of seats. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down,’” Arroyo said, smiling. “I tried to slow down and take it all in.”

As Arroyo crossed the plate and looked to the sky, his family shared hugs — without spilling a nacho — in a section overlooking the home dugout. The ballpark roared. A 3-0 deficit had been nearly erased. 

“Now it’s a one-run game,” Bochy said. “Anything can happen.”

Even by that standard, Morse’s blast was improbable. This is a player who didn’t have a hit last season before being sent home by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who, at 35, was having a poor spring before he announced to a reporter one day that he was going to hit a homer -- and then promptly did. On a rehab assignment over the past week, Morse had a .250 average and no homers, but he insisted to general manager Bobby Evans that his swing was ready. 

Evans believed, and Morse rewarded him with a moment that had everyone in the park throwing it back to 2014. Just as in the deciding game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Morse was sent up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Sidewinding Pat Neshek was replaced by fire-balling Pedro Baez, but the approach was the same. 

“Swing hard,” Morse said. “Just in case you hit it.”

Baez kept pumping fastballs and Morse turned on one at 97 mph. He raised his arm the same way he did three years ago, an inning before Travis Ishikawa’s heroics. 

“I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said. “I was thinking about that game against St. Louis.”

All the Giants were. 

“You kind of just sit there and shake your head a little bit because it was very similar to his last homer here,” Posey said. “Even his excitement out of the box was similar.”

Morse said he didn’t intend to strike the same pose. 

“I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t strike out and I’m just running around the bases,’” he said, laughing. “It was cool, man. Not only for me, but for the team.”

For four innings, the surging bullpen made sure the homers would not be a fun footnote to another loss. Gorkys Hernandez kicked off the winning rally in the 10th with a single. He was pushed along by a stolen base, walk and bunt. Pence stepped in with no outs and engaged in one of the strangest battles of a career full of them. 

Ross Stripling, a starter with a deep repertoire, kept pumping 94 mph fastballs up near Pence’s eyes. Pence swung through one, fouled off five, and took three more for balls. Only one of the pitches he saw was in the strike zone. In the dugout, Posey shook his head in amusement. 

“It was kind of hard not to laugh,” Posey said. “He’s probably the only guy who can do that.”

Some Giants couldn’t hold the laughter in, even in a tense spot.

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat,” Bochy said. “He probably expanded as much as I’ve ever seen. If he would have walked it would have gone down as one of the more amazing walks with all the balls he swung at.”

On a night full of so much energy, a walk would have been an anticlimactic ending. Pence, who had been expecting a curveball the whole at-bat, lofted a 10th fastball deep enough to left to score Arroyo and send the Giants streaming out of the dugout. 

Arroyo, the youngest of them all, went sprinting across the infield. Morse followed, and soon he had Pence wrapped in a hug. Hours earlier, he had promised that at the very least, he would bring energy to the clubhouse. He delivered more than anyone could have imagined.

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season,” Pence said. “It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

Instant Replay: Arroyo, Morse go deep, Giants walk off on Dodgers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Michael Morse hoped to bring a little levity to a battered clubhouse Wednesday. On his first day as a Giant since the 2014 World Series, he ended up bringing the most thrilling win of the season. 

Morse’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth shook AT&T Park and tied the game. His good friend Hunter Pence won it with a sacrifice fly in the 10th, giving the Giants a 4-3 win over the Dodgers. 

The 10th-inning rally started with Gorkys Hernandez’s single off Ross Stripling. Hernandez stole second and Conor Gillaspie drew a walk, and both runners were safe when Adrian Gonzalez went to third on Nick Hundley’s bunt. Pence flied out to deep left on the 10th pitch of his at-bat. The Giants had been 0-13 when trailing after seven. Morse  helped change all that.

Morse’s homer came an inning after Christian Arroyo’s first career homer. The newcomers saved a night that started with nothing but failure. 

The Giants entered with four games this month where they failed to put a runner on the first time through the order. Lefty Alex Wood stayed with the theme. Brandon Belt finally touched first with a one-out walk in the fourth but it wasn’t until the sixth that a Giant — Drew Stubbs — picked up a hit.

By that time, the Dodgers led 3-0. Johnny Cueto worked around some early trouble but Corey Seager got to him in the sixth. The young shortstop led off with a mammoth blast on a 3-2 pitch that landed a couple dozen rows up in left-center. The homer was tracked at 462 feet per Statcast, tied for the longest in the Majors this season.

The Dodgers went up 2-0 when Chase Utley blooped a single to left with the bases loaded. Utley was 1-for-31 at the time. Andrew Toles beat out a grounder to bring home a third run. 

The Giants looked dead in the water, but Wood — the Dodgers’ swingman — was pulled after 77 pitches and old friend Sergio Romo immediately opened the door. Buster Posey hit a one-out single and Arroyo lined a slider just over the fence in left-center.

Morse’s first at-bat as a Giant in three years sent an even bigger charge through the park. He got a 97 mph fastball from Pedro Baez with two strikes and blasted it to left. Morse held his arm up right away and screamed as he rounded first.

Starting pitching report: Cueto was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks. He’ll finish April with a 5.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. After holding opposing hitters to a .238 average last year, he’s getting hit at a .271 clip this season. 

Bullpen report: Steven Okert did a great job of settling the place down, throwing a scoreless inning before Arroyo’s homer and retiring two more immediately after. 

At the plate: The 21-year-old Arroyo calmly clapped his hands once as he rounded first. He was pushed out of the dugout for a curtain call as the park roared. Most impressive of all, his mom, Kimberly, didn’t drop a single nacho as she celebrated in the stands.

In the field: Stubbs made a diving catch to open the seventh and Gorkys Hernandez followed with a nifty sliding catch at the wall.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,572 human beings. Thursday will be the 500th consecutive (announced) sellout.

Up next: Matt Moore (1-3, 5.87 ERA) will try to turn his month around. The Dodgers will trot out young lefty Julio Urias, who spent three weeks in the minors to control his innings count.