The San Francisco 49ers will meet the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Feb. 2, after the Chiefs beat the Titans and the 49ers beat the Packers in the conference championship games Sunday. We don’t have to go back very far in history to find the
The San Francisco 49ers will meet the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Feb. 2, after the Chiefs beat the Titans and the 49ers beat the Packers in the conference championship games Sunday. We don’t have to go back very far in history to find the last time San Francisco and Kansas City met in one game for a championship -- just a little over five years, actually.
It was Game 7 of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. The Giants were looking to cement themselves as a dynasty of the 2010s by winning their third championship in five years. Meanwhile, the Royals were seeking their first title in nearly three decades.
The Giants took the opener in Kansas City, 7-1. The Royals came back to even the series with a 7-2 victory in Game 2. San Francisco then took two of three at home to return to Kauffman Stadium with a chance to close out the series in Game 6, but the Royals won it in a rout, 10-0, to force the winner-take-all Game 7.
The biggest storyline for Game 7 was Madison Bumgarner. The Giants left-hander had put together a postseason performance of historic proportion, entering that night with a 1.13 ERA over 47 2/3 innings, striking out 41 and walking six over that span. The big question on everyone’s mind was whether he would come out of the bullpen on two days’ rest, and for how long.
San Francisco’s starter was veteran right-hander Tim Hudson, and his counterpart was another veteran right-hander, Jeremy Guthrie. Both hurlers put up zeroes in the first inning, and both yielded two runs apiece in the second. With the game still tied heading into the fourth, Mike Morse delivered an RBI single to put the Giants ahead.
Jeremy Affeldt had relieved Hudson and threw 2 1/3 scoreless frames before the bullpen door opened and out walked Bumgarner to try and preserve the narrowest of leads with a World Series title on the line in hostile territory.
The first batter Bumgarner faced, Omar Infante, singled to right field to put the tying run aboard for the Royals. But Bumgarner retired the next 12 batters he faced, continuing his epic postseason run into the bottom of the ninth, three outs away from securing another title for San Francisco.
Bumgarner would face Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon -- each capable of tying the game with one swing. He struck out Hosmer and got Butler to pop out in foul territory. Gordon came up as Kansas City’s last hope, and he delivered with a single to left-center field that got past Grégor Blanco and rolled all the way to the wall. Gordon got all the way to third, and the tying run was 90 feet away.
Salvador Perez was next, and Bumgarner got him to hit a popup into foul territory by the Giants’ dugout. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval drifted over, camped under it and made the catch, giving the Giants another World Series title and completing Bumgarner’s postseason for the ages.
Bumgarner was named World Series MVP after posting a 0.43 ERA in 21 innings during the Fall Classic, including a complete game in Game 5 and a five-inning save in Game 7.
As the Giants celebrated, there was dejection for the Royals, who had come oh-so-close to winning a championship the city had been waiting 29 years for. But the wait wouldn’t be much longer, as Kansas City returned to the World Series the following year, and this time won it in five games over the Mets. The man who made the last out of the prior year’s Fall Classic, Perez, was named World Series MVP.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.