SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti was answering a question about manager Bruce Bochy late Wednesday night when he noticed something happening across the clubhouse amid the Giants’ post-Game 7 celebration.
"He’s going to give his thing now you guys," Righetti said, motioning to the middle of the room, where Bochy was walking with the Commissioner’s Trophy. "In fact, I want to see it. Could I?"
Righetti broke away from the group of reporters around him and made his way toward the area of the room where it appeared Bochy might say something to the players gathered around him. Only he didn’t get a chance -- or didn’t even try. Bochy just raised the trophy above his head, while the players around him doused him with beverages, whooping and cheering.
Unmistakably, this was Madison Bumgarner’s night, Madison Bumgarner’s World Series. But it was also a touchstone for Bochy, the calm and stoic guiding hand behind the Giants’ three titles in the last five seasons.
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Bochy became just the 10th manager in major-league history with three World Series titles. And the previous nine are all in the Hall of Fame.
"He’s a Hall of Famer," reliever Jeremy Affeldt said with conviction after Game 7. "That guy, the way he manages games, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. And I’m going to be proud to say I played for him."
The Giants have never lost a playoff series under Bochy. They have won 10 consecutive rounds, including the one-game wild card play-in this year, which is two shy of the major-league record held by the New York Yankees. Javier Lopez put it this way Wednesday night: The Giants have not always gotten to October under Bochy, but when they do, they win.
"He’s done such a great job of being able to slow the game down in big situations," said starter Matt Cain. "He doesn’t panic."
That much was evident in the hours before the decisive Game 7. Sitting in his office a few hours before first pitch, Bochy had feet up on his desk, leaning back in a chair, serious but maintaining a sense of humor. Asked if he planned to address the team, he said he would talk to a few players to take the pulse of the room. Asked what he might say, he grinned and said: "Win one for the Gipper."
It later came out that what he actually said, with the Giants trying to become the first team since the 1979 Pirates to win Game 7 of the World Series on the road, was to remind his team of the similar tasks they had already overcome -- going to Pittsburgh for the wild-card game, winning the first two games of the division series at Washington, taking one of the first two games in the NLCS in St. Louis.
When the game finally began, Bochy showed his willingness to take command of situations early if he felt they might be slipping out of control. The night before, with Jake Peavy in trouble early on, Bochy had taken his starter out after he’d recorded just four outs. The Royals then got to Tim Hudson in the second inning Wednesday, and Bochy came out to get Hudson with two out in the second inning.
"It’s one of those things where, Game 7 of the World Series, you can’t allow your starter to go out there and try to work himself out of a jam," Hudson acknowledged later. "We’ve got some guys in that bullpen who can come in and make some big pitches."
Bochy went right to Jeremy Affedlt, who threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings and has not allowed a run in his last 22 postseason appearances, one shy of Mariano Rivera’s major-league record.
"I think I got a lot of help from a lot of other guys, and Bochy was one of them," Affeldt said later when asked about the streak. "To be able to match me up against guys that he felt like I could have a lot of success against -- and not allow me to face guys that he didn’t think I’d have success against -- I’m very honored to be on that run."
Bumgarner, of course, made Bochy’s job a little easier by taking over for the final five innings. But Bochy’s decision to start Juan Perez over Travis Ishikawa in left field paid off when Perez made a running catch near the line in the middle innings that Ishikawa might not have reached. Not every move Bochy made this October had the magic touch, but for the third time in the last five years, he was the one of 30 major-league managers hoisting the World Series trophy.
Bochy said in the interview room Wednesday night that he felt "numb, really, through all this." He credited his team for being "a group of warriors." He said overcoming the odds facing a road team in Game 7 made it all the more special, along with seeing players like Hudson and Michael Morse win a World Series for the first time.
Before tearing himself away, Righetti had been saying that he felt like "a lucky guy to work for (Bochy), and Felipe (Alou) and Dusty (Baker), three guys over 1,000 wins, great men and great leaders." He was taken aback, though, when told of that other number -- the nine other men, all of them Hall of Famers, whose company Bochy now shares in October managerial glory.
"That’s awesome," Righetti said, shaking his head a little. "That’s pretty awesome."
* There was so much to cover Wednesday night amid the festivities. If you missed them, here was the game story and the follow-up on Bumgarner’s historic night and October, in the words of awed teammates who tried to describe it. And here was a story on whether the Giants, after three titles in five years, now consider themselves a dynasty.
Columnist Marcos Breton argues that, yes, the Giants are definitely baseball’s latest dynasty. And Ailene Voisin wrote more about Bumgarner, the breakout star of this postseason. Finally, here’s a story about the defensive gem that rookie second baseman Joe Panik made in the third inning, the glove flip to start a double play, that Affeldt said was the biggest play of the game.
A few more quick notes:
* Affeldt’s outing was somewhat overshadowed by Bumgarner, but he came in and stabilized things in relief of Hudson, and his scoreless streak in the postseason is remarkable. The last time Affeldt gave up a postseason run was in Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. This October, the left-hander threw 11 2/3 innings and allowed five hits.
"Unreal," said catcher Buster Posey. "I think back to (Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS against the Phillies), Jonny Sanchez was on the mound, got in some trouble, Affeldt came in and slammed the door. Kind of similar tonight."
"He’s ready to pitch. He’s a pro," Righetti said. "This run, he’s one of the reasons why."
* Also not to be overlooked -- Michael Morse drove in two runs, including the game-winner on a two-strike single in the fourth inning, when he was jammed by a 99 mph Kelvin Herrera fastball but fought it off to right field.
Morse didn’t get into the playoffs until the NLCS due to his oblique strain, and when he did it was with only a handful of at-bats since the end of August. But in the playoffs, mostly as a DH and pinch-hitter, Morse went 6-for-20 with two of the bigger swings for the Giants -- his pinch-hit homer off Pat Neshek in the NLCS clincher, and the eventual game-winning hit Wednesday.
"I think this means so much to him. I know it does," said right fielder Hunter Pence, probably Morse’s closest friend on the team. "This journey, since day one of spring training we’ve been dreaming of this, we’ve been pushing for this. Through all the tough times we looked at each other and said, ‘Don’t forget, we’re the best team in the world. We’ve got to believe it.’
"He came to me these last two games and just was like, ‘Man, it’s incredible. Just keep pushing that, keep on grinding.’ He stepped up so big for us. It’s incredible."
* And on the theme of stepping up, Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-3 in Game 7 to set a postseason record with 26 hits in these playoffs. In 12 career World Series games, Sandoval is 20-for-47 (a .426 batting average), the third-best World Series average of any player with at least 40 at-bats.
"I don’t know how to explain it," Posey said. "The guy just, he loves it. He loves, loves this stage and this moment. We’ll probably see him in a couple of weeks hitting a homer for a team in Venezuela, like a game-winning homer or something."
It was also one heck of a stretch run for Sandoval, who is headed for free agency and, no doubt, a sizeable contract.
* Posey, meanwhile, finished the series 4-for-26 and did not have a single extra-base hit in 69 at-bats in the postseason. Posey was asked if he was playing hurt, but said, "I was fine. I was fine."
* Hudson didn’t last long in Game 7, but in the clubhouse afterward he was all smiles, soaking in the moment of his first World Series title at the age of 39.
"It’s awesome," Hudson said. "It’s what I’ve been waiting for for 16 years. For it to finally come through, it’s truly amazing. I’m truly blessed to have been able to come here, spend this season with this group of guys and see what they’re all about. They’re all about championships."
It wasn’t the first Champagne celebration Hudson has been a part of, but still he was asked how the dousing felt in this one.
"It’s awesome," he said. "It’s cold, but it’s awesome."
* You have to figure there’s some of that Champagne tinge still on a few of the items headed for the Hall of Fame. A list of memorabilia from the Series that’s headed to Cooperstown was sent out today and includes: Posey’s jersey from Game 7, Sandoval’s bat from Game 7, Pence’s bat from Game 6, Bumgarner’s cap from the three games he pitched in, Affeldt’s Game 7 spikes and the hat worn by Bochy throughout the series.
Also going to the Hall: Travis Ishikawa’s bat from his walk-off homer in Game 5 of the NLCS and, from the Royals’ side, Yordano Ventura’s cap from Game 6 (on which Ventura wrote a message in tribute to Oscar Taveras), Brandon Finnegan’s cap from Game 3 (when Finnegan became the first player to appear in the College World Series and World Series in the same year) and Ned Yost’s jersey from Game 4 of the ALCS.
* It was only two innings in the blowout loss in Game 6, but Roseville native and Jesuit High alum Andrew Susac made his World Series debut and won a ring in his rookie season.
"When I got here I thought this team had what it took," Susac said Wednesday night. "With the competitiveness of this team, I couldn’t envision anything other than this. These guys wanted to win from day one, spring training, Hunter talking about champion blood, and making it to this series -- what a dream come true, man."
* And true it was. When the sun came up Thursday, the Giants awoke World Series winners one more time, dreaming not necessary. They’ll hold a parade in San Francisco on Friday, beginning at noon. If Halloween two years ago was any indication, it should be quite a scene.