Programming note: For complete World Series Victory Parade coverage on Friday, tune in to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area at 11:30 a.m.
KANSAS CITY – The Giants had won Game 7 of the World Series, Madison Bumgarner turned in a relief performance for the ages and amid the clubhouse celebration, someone asked Jeremy Affeldt if it mattered to him that the official scorers did not give him the winning decision.
“Nah, Bum deserves it because he had to pitch deep and he backed it up,” said Affeldt, whose 2 1/3 shutout innings were nearly as heroic. “The fewer outs there are, the more the pressure rises on you to make pitches. And he did not feel it at all.
“So he can have it. He can have all three of them. And all of us can have a ring. I’ve got three boys, and one for each of them.”
Minutes later, after consultation with the league office, the scorers changed the box score. Because the Giants took the lead while Affeldt was in the game, he received credit for the victory.
It was an emotional scene when I doubled back to informed Affeldt of the change. He immediately told his wife, and they began crying as they embraced.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants win third World Series in five years]
After Bumgarner threw five of the most significant relief innings in major league history, it would be easy to forget that Affeldt took over for Tim Hudson in the second and got the Giants to the fifth. Easy for anyone outside the Giants clubhouse, anyway.
“It never goes unnoticed with us,” Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said. “He’s a hero. A hero. No doubt about it. If we keep him away from sharp objects, he’ll be good.”
For all the grief Affeldt takes for his bizarre injuries, including that unfortunate incident with frozen hamburger patties, he is building a reputation as one of the most effective postseason relievers of all time.
Affeldt extended his streak to 22 consecutive scoreless outings in the playoffs – one behind Mariano Rivera for the all-time record – and he did it while setting a career high for outs recorded in a postseason game.
Since giving up a run in Game 1 of the 2010 World Series, this is what Affeldt has done in 22 games: 23 1/3 innings, 11 hits, no runs, six double-play grounders, five walks, 12 strikeouts and a .147 opponent’s average.
“I couldn’t be more honored that I was a part of this,” said Affeldt, one of eight Giants on the active World Series roster to win a third ring. “I can’t wait to see the people in San Francisco. We pitched, and pitching wins championships.”
You aren’t supposed to pitch quite like the Giants did Wednesday night, though. In Games 6 and 7, they received a total of nine outs from starting pitchers Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy knew entering Game 7 that Affeldt would be his fire blanket in case Hudson ran into trouble. He’s such a versatile piece because he keeps the ball in the park, he is nearly as tough on right-handers as left-handers and he can come in with runners on base.
He entered with two on and two out in the second inning, got Norichika Aoki to hit a chopper and shortstop Brandon Crawford had the presence of mind to know his only chance for an out would be to catch it while standing on second base. He did, barely recording the force on Alcides Escobar.
Then in the third, Joe Panik started the belly flopping, belt buckle busting, glove-flipping double play that will be in World Series highlight films for ages. An overturned call on first base ensured the second out.
Has a bigger double play ever been turned behind Affeldt?
“Not in that situation,” he said. “That was the key to that game. To be able to shut it down quick, that allowed me to go out there for another inning. For me, that was probably the biggest play of the night.”
He got another double play in the fourth inning after a curveball slipped from his hand and hit Alex Gordon in the back. And in a game where the Giants got five outs from their starter, they ended up needing just two relief pitchers.
The second one received series MVP honors. The first one can say he was the winning pitcher in Game 7.
Pitcher wins might be one of the most flawed statistics, but they still mean something to pitchers. Affeldt’s tears proved it.
“I was able to locate the whole postseason and had defensive plays made, too,” he said. “Do I know what I just did? I don’t know. But I do know I had a lot of help.”