KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After long waits to make their World Series debuts, Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie will get another opportunity to pitch Wednesday night.
This time, everything is on the line.
Guthrie, who had never reached the postseason before this year, will be on the mound for Kansas City in Game 7. Once again, he will face the 39-year-old Hudson, who finally made it to the World Series with San Francisco after 16 seasons in the majors.
“I’m no different than anybody else. As a kid, you think about it. As a big leaguer, you think about it,” said Hudson, set to become the oldest Game 7 starter in Series history. “You wonder if you’re going to have an opportunity to do it. Sixteen years in the big leagues, I’m finally getting that chance. I can’t wait to get out there and have some fun.”
The 35-year-old Guthrie helped pitch Royals to a 3-2 win last Friday night in San Francisco, giving them a 2-1 lead in the Series. But after the Giants rallied to win the next two at home, the teams returned to Kansas City with the Royals needing a victory to force Game 7.
They got it — a 10-0 rout — behind a resurgent offense that relentlessly peppered Giants starter Jake Peavy and reliever Yusmeiro Petit, and a brilliant start by rookie Yordano Ventura.
“A lot of guys had this weird feeling it would come to this,” Giants outfielder Hunter Pence said afterward, “and here we are.”
Guthrie allowed two runs over five innings in his World Series debut, and Hudson was nearly as sharp, allowing three runs on four hits while pitching into the sixth. But when the Giants were unable to score a tying run off the Kansas City bullpen, Hudson was stuck with the loss.
Now, he has a chance to bag the biggest win possible.
“I mean, obviously I’m going to go as deep as I can,” Hudson said. “Hopefully I can give a quality six, seven innings out there and turn it over to those guys in the ‘pen.”
That bullpen could be even stronger than normal with ace Madison Bumgarner, who won Game 1 and pitched a shutout in Game 5, available for a relief stint Wednesday night.
Bumgarner has allowed one run over 16 innings in his two starts against Kansas City.
“We’ll see where he’s at and how he’s doing out there,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I can’t tell you exactly how far he could go or how many pitches he could go. I think you read him and see how he’s doing out there.”
Asked what his pitch limit might be Wednesday night, Bumgarner gave a predictably preposterous answer.
“I said maybe 200. No, I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’m going to be called on. But if you are, as long as you’re getting outs and you’re not hurting ...,” he said.
First things first, though: Bumgarner is excited for his pal Hudson.
“There couldn’t be a better story for Huddy. I know he’s going to be ready,” Bumgarner said.
As for playing a Game 7, “if you want to be a baseball player, that’s what you think about.”
The Royals will also have a fresh bullpen after Ventura’s sublime start. Kansas City manager Ned Yost has even said his star trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and All-Star closer Greg Holland would be available to pitch two innings apiece if needed.
“That keeps all of our big guns fresh and ready to go,” Yost said.
The Royals also will have a bit of history on their side.
When they were last in the World Series in 1985, they also faced a 3-2 deficit returning home against St. Louis. They won Game 6, made famous by umpire Don Denkinger’s blown call at first base, and then took Game 7 in an 11-0 rout for their only championship.
The Giants, meanwhile, had a 3-2 lead this year for the third time in franchise history. Just like in 1924 and 2002, they lost Game 6. Both of those years, they lost Game 7 as well.
“We’ll take any win. Close, blowout, any win,” Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. “Guys stepped up and we definitely needed everyone in our lineup. We needed to swing the bats and have a good outing from our starter. We need that again. I hope the entire team gets hot.”