KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Madison Bumgarner was limbering up at Kauffman Stadium this week, getting loose with his San Francisco teammates near the dugout, when Tim Hudson and Michael Morse sneaked up from behind and playfully ruffled the pitcher's long, scraggly locks.
That was way too hairy for Bumgarner. He quickly spun and playfully sparred with his pals.
They were about only ones who could touch Bumgarner in this World Series.
“Yeah, it was hopeless,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost admitted.
The 25-year-old Bumgarner capped off a performance for the ages and earned MVP honors Wednesday night, pitching five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 as the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2.
Moments after he retired Salvador Perez on a foul pop with a runner on third base for the final out, Bumgarner insisted he wasn't worn down. About a half-hour later, he felt a bit differently.
“I can't lie to you anymore. I'm tired,” he said.
Bumgarner earned a sensational save to go along with two sparkling wins as a starter in the Series, the first pitcher to do that in a Series since Randy Johnson in 2001. That on top of being MVP of the NL Championship Series and pitching a record 52 2-3 innings in this postseason.
A tremendous accomplishment, but hard to tell from watching the 6-foot-5 lefty or listening to him. He shows virtually no emotion on the mound, and seems to be the only person unimpressed by what he's done.
“He's such a humble guy, and we rode him pretty good,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
“It's historic what this kid has done,” he said. “Really, truly amazing.”
After winning the opener with seven impressive innings, Bumgarner threw a shutout in Game 5. And when the Royals forced a Game 7, there was little doubt that the guy called MadBum would be called on to pitch one more.
But five innings? Who would've believed that?
“Innings, I wasn't thinking about innings or pitch count. I was just thinking about getting outs, getting outs until I couldn't get them anymore and we needed someone else,” Bumgarner said. “Fortunately was able to get some quick innings and I was able to stay in there.”
Bumgarner boosted his World Series stats to numbers never seen before: 5-0 with an 0.25 ERA, along with three championship rings. In 36 innings, he's allowed just one run and 14 hits, striking out 31 and walking five.
Catcher Buster Posey said there wasn't much conversation on the bench with Bochy, pitching coach Dave Righetti and Bumgarner about how long he'd stay on the mound.
“Not much of anything. I think everybody could see how good he was,” Posey said. “They weren't putting great swings on him.”