-- Surrounded by a group of reporters after the Giants’ 10-0 loss Tuesday night, Madison Bumgarner was asked how many pitches he might be good for in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday.
"Maybe 200?" Bumgarner said. "I don’t know."
Bumgarner was giving a deadpan answer -- probably -- but he grew serious when asked later if he would like to start the decisive game.
"I’d like to see Timmy Hudson start the game," Bumgarner said. "I think it’s a pretty awesome story for him."
Hudson, the 39-year-old right-hander who had never made it past the Division Series in his first 15 seasons, now gets the ball for the Giants in the final game of the 2014 season. Hudson said late Tuesday night he feels "very calm" going into the start. He also took a moment to reflect on the circumstances that brought him here.
"Last year at this time I was walking around Auburn, Alabama, in a walking boot, wondering, ‘Where is my career going to be heading?’" said Hudson, who was recovering from a lower-leg injury at the time.
"It’s amazing. God works in crazy ways. I managed to get healthy and sign with the San Francisco Giants, with hopefully the opportunity to play on this stage. Very rarely do things work out the way that you hope they will in this game.
"I signed with a team that I thought would have a pretty good chance to get here, and seven or eight months later, here we are. It’s really crazy how things are. Not only are we here, but I’m pitching Game 7 of the World Series. So it’s really cool."
Hudson would no doubt like to buck a troubling trend for the Giants this postseason. After Jake Peavy’s short outing on Tuesday, all Giants starters not named Bumgarner have combined for a 5.40 ERA in 46 2/3 innings over 10 playoff starts, allowing 52 hits. Bumgarner, in his six starts, has allowed 26 hits and posted a 1.13 ERA.
Mostly for that reason, there were quite a few people on social media Tuesday night clamoring for Bumgarner to start Game 7. That won’t happen -- the left-hander threw 117 pitches two days ago in his four-hit shutout in Game 5 -- but manager Bruce Bochy was still asked after Tuesday’s game to explain why.
"He’s going to be on two days’ rest, he just threw a complete game, our confidence in Huddy," Bochy said. "This guy is human. I mean, you can’t push him that much. He’ll be available if we need him, but to start him, I think that’s asking a lot.
"I have a good pitcher going tomorrow who has done a great job for us. That’s the reason. So when they Tweet you, just tell them that."
Bochy, in fact, will have nearly his entire pitching staff at his disposal for Game 7. Maybe the one silver lining to giving up seven runs in the second inning Tuesday and being blown out by 10 was that Bochy managed to get through the game without burning his key relievers. Yusmeiro Petit threw just 2/3 of an inning. Jean Machi, who pitched three innings, is the only pitcher that Bochy said will be off-limits Wednesday.
Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla -- all will be well-rested, given the off-day Monday and Bumgarner going the distance on Sunday. And lurking there in the bullpen -- perhaps not literally, though he didn’t rule out accompanying the relievers out there -- will be Bumgarner, who said he’ll be ready to go if called upon.
"Something tells me it won’t take too long to get loose in Game 7 of the World Series," he said.
"Bum’s a stud," Hudson said. "He’s an absolute animal. I’m sure he’ll be in the game at some point tomorrow. Hopefully it’s late in the game.
"Hopefully I go out and get us deep in the game," Hudson said. "I know he wants the ball. He wanted the ball yesterday. He always wants the ball, and that’s what you want out of your stud pitchers. This time of year, Game 7 of the World Series, there is not a game after tomorrow. So we’ll have all hands on deck.
* Game Seven. Royals manager Ned Yost said several days ago he anticipated this series going the distance. Bochy, at the time, said he wouldn’t be surprised if it did. Now these teams, both of which had to win a do-or-die game just to get into the playoffs, will play another to determine the World Series champion.
"Game seven in the World Series, it’s a gift for everyone," Hunter Pence said. "It’s pretty special … I think it’s incredibly entertaining for the fans, incredibly entertaining for the world, for the game of baseball. It’s incredibly fun to play and compete in. And every time you step on the field there’s infinite possibilities."
"It’s a fun series," said Brandon Belt. "I think right now you cannot predict what’s going to happen tomorrow."
Maybe it was about power of positive thinking, but the consensus in the Giants’ clubhouse after Game 6 seemed to be acknowledging the excitement of a Game 7. One not-so-positive fact for the Giants: The home team has won each of the last nine World Series to go to a Game 7, with the last road team to win being the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.
"Like to break that streak tomorrow," catcher Buster Posey said.
* The game story gets into how Bochy intends to address that history with his team, and how the game Tuesday night unraveled in the second inning for the Giants and Jake Peavy.
Peavy after the game seemed almost more confused than frustrated -- though he certainly was the latter -- about how the second inning played out. He said he had good stuff and kept pointing out that he broke three bats on balls put into play in the inning, and got outs on none of them. Among the more confounding aspects of the inning: Mike Moustakas’ broken-bat chopper that snuck just inside the first-base bag for an RBI double, Alcides Escobar’s broken-bat grounder to Belt with a pair of runners on that resulted in no outs, and Eric Hosmer’s two-run double off Yusmeiro Petit that was actually a chopper that bounced off the hard dirt around home plate and over the head of shortstop Brandon Crawford.
"It seemed like it was their night," Pence said. "Whatever they hit, especially in that inning, they had choppers and bloopers. And those things happen. That’s the game of baseball."
Peavy said he felt if the Giants had gotten an out on Escobar’s grounder, he may have gotten out of the inning without any further damage. Instead, he departed having recorded four outs, giving up five runs on six hits.
"I don’t know much we would do different," Peavy said. "Maybe bounce a ball there to Aoki. But felt really good. We threw the ball where we wanted to throw it. It was just a frustrating inning."
* Belt went pretty deep into explaining the Escobar play. It was hit to Belt’s right, and charging it he looked toward third and the runner there. Peavy also seemed to be telling Belt to look home, but Belt said especially on the road, with a loud crowd, that’s his read and instinct.
"I saw him break towards home," Belt said. "So that’s why I made that move toward home plate. He just kind of stopped. He did his job right there.
"And then Escobar, with his speed, was able to make it to first base. There might have been a chance to dive and get him, but you risk the guy at third going home. So it wasn’t something I was willing to do. It was just a weird play."
Belt said when the Giants have practiced that play or had it happen in a game previously, it has been with the infield playing back. The infield was partly in Tuesday, which is why the second baseman Joe Panik was able to be at first for a potential throw -- and why Belt didn’t anticipate his being there. Belt instead tried to lunge and tag Escobar, and Escobar beat him to the bag.
"The way that play usually comes up is it’s me and the pitcher (covering) right there," Belt said. "That one has never happened before. It’s a play you can definitely learn from. It’s just kind of unfortunate it happened in the World Series."
* As forgettable as Peavy’s outing was, Royals fans will likely remember Yordano Ventura’s performance for a long time -- especially if they go on to win this series. With the Royals trying to keep their season alive, the 23-year-old rookie threw seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits, helping Kansas City respond to Bumgarner’s shutout in Game 5 with one of their own.
Afterward, Ventura said, "This game was dedicated to Oscar Taveras, my good friend," and the Cardinals outfielder who died in a car crash Sunday at the age of 22.
"It’s a little emotional for us," Ventura said through a translator. "I worked hard. I worked hard from the start, and Bumgarner did a great job, but I felt like this was for my teammates and for the boys. I feel like I worked as hard as I could for this start and for my team to put us in a good spot."
Belt said Ventura was "pretty tough all night. If you throw 100 (mph), you’ve got a good chance of pitching a good game every time especially if you’re throwing strikes, and that’s what he did."
Said Pence: "He doesn’t necessarily have to hit location. He has great stuff, one of the best arms you’ll see in this game."
* Catcher Buster Posey was asked whether the Giants could take some positives out of their 10-0 loss in that it left most of their pitchers rested for Wednesday.
"Yeah, I like that, sure," Posey said, grinning. "We’ll have some fresh guys tomorrow."
That includes Hudson, Bumgarner and virtually everybody on staff. It’s Game 7 -- all hands on deck, winner-take-all and any other phrase you like to describe it. Bumgarner put it simplest and perhaps best:
"It’s going to be fun."