After 162 regular-season games, three playoff series and six World Series games, the fate of the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants will be decided on Wednesday night. The two teams conclude the 2014 MLB season with a Game 7 at Kauffman Stadium.
Following two straight losses, the Royals avoided elimination with a blowout victory in Game 6. Kansas City jumped out to an early lead by scoring seven runs in the second inning, forcing Giants manager Bruce Bochy to pull Jake Peavy, who recorded just four outs.
Two veterans are set to get the ball in the deciding seventh game. The visiting Giants send Tim Hudson to the mound, while Jeremy Guthrie gets the start for the Royals.
Hudson was reliable in the regular season, posting a 3.57 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. His playoff experience should also give the Giants confidence, considering he’s made 12 career postseason starts, registering a 3.53 ERA. In Game 3, though, Hudson came up short, picking up the loss and allowing three runs over 5.2 innings.
Guthrie didn’t have as strong of a regular season as Hudson, but he’s been more impressive in the playoffs. He’s only gone five innings in each of his two starts, but he’s allowed only three runs, including two runs in his victory over Hudson five days ago.
Having their starter go just five innings hasn’t been a problem for the Kansas City bullpen. Other than Game 5 of the World Series, the Royals’ top relievers have been virtually unhittable this postseason. Wade Davis and Greg Holland both have a playoff ERA under 1.00, Jason Frasor comes in at 1.69 and Kelvin Herrera’s ERA is 2.19 in 12.1 innings.
San Francisco’s bullpen has been strong as well, with Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Tim Lincecum combining for 22 scoreless innings. With all hands on deck in Game 7, the Giants possess the biggest weapon on either team.
Madison Bumgarner is available out of the bullpen for the Giants, following his complete-game shutout victory in Game 5. It’s unknown how long of a leash Bochy would give Bumgarner on two days’ rest, but the manager will likely go to his ace if the situation calls for it. Bumgarner is in the midst of an historic postseason run, and owns the best career World Series ERA at 0.29.
It’s very rare in the current era for managers to go to pitchers on such short rest, but there is a precedent for players having success in similar situations. In Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, Derek Lowe went six innings on two days’ rest, allowing one run and one hit.
Even though the Giants might have the pitching advantage, the oddsmakers give the edge to the Royals. The home team has been victorious in Game 7 of the World Series nine consecutive times.
Start Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Live Online: A stream is available at MLB.TV
Betting Odds: Kansas City-140, San Francisco+130
Prediction: Kansas City over San Francisco, 3-2