KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Madison Bumgarner is ready to pitch in for Game 7.
The biggest World Series ace of all plans to be in the bullpen Wednesday night, just in case the San Francisco Giants need him against the Kansas City Royals for an out or two.
Or possibly a few more.
Asked how many pitches he could throw in relief, MadBum tossed out a playful estimate: “I said maybe 200.”
From the outset Tuesday night in Game 6, there was little doubt this Series was headed to the limit.
The Royals turned bloops, bouncers and a botched grounder into a blowout, scoring seven runs in the second inning. Rookie Yordano Ventura, pitching with the initials of late St. Louis outfielder Oscar Taveras on his cap, cruised to a 10-0 rout.
Now, a true treat for everyone: A winner-take-all matchup, with Jeremy Guthrie pitching for the Royals against Tim Hudson — at 39, Hudson will be the oldest Game 7 starter ever.
“I mean, Game 7s are always special,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “As kids, what I fall back on is when I was 10 years old, hitting rocks in the backyard, trying to hit it over the fence for a home run.”
“I never one time thought, 'OK, bases loaded, two out, bottom of the ninth, Game 5 of the World Series, you know? Never. It was always two outs, bottom of the ninth, Game 7 of the World Series, you know?”
San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence echoed that.
“A Game 7 in the World Series is a gift for everyone. It's pretty special. It's like incredibly entertaining for fans, incredibly entertaining for the world and the game of baseball,” Pence said.
Even Jake Peavy, who had a chance to clinch San Francisco's third title in five years but didn't make it through the second inning, could appreciate what was on deck.
“Who doesn't want a Game 7?” Peavy said. “That being said, we wanted to get it done tonight. I wanted to get it done.”
Instead, someone else might become a baseball immortal.
Maybe someone hits a home run to end Game 7, the way Bill Mazeroski did in 1960. Or there's a tremendous pitching performance, like the 10-inning shutout Jack Morris threw in 1991. Or a surprise ending, the way Arizona stunned Mariano Rivera in 2001.
Recent history favors Kansas City. Home teams have won nine straight Game 7s in the Series since Pittsburgh's victory at Baltimore in 1979, including Kansas City's 11-0 romp past St. Louis at this very same stadium in 1985.
The Giants have lost all four times the World Series went the distance. In 2002, Barry Bonds & Co. lost at the Angels.
“For both teams winning the wild-card game … all the different series just to get to this point and to get to Game 7, it's been one remarkable ride for guys in this locker room and guys in their locker room,” Giants designated hitter Michael Morse said.
“To come down to Game 7 is amazing,” he said. “It just tells you what kind of teams these are. It's been a battle every game. Why not go to Game 7?”
Said Hudson: “I can't wait to get out there tomorrow and have some fun.”
Hudson, in fact, signed as a free agent with the Giants in the offseason for this chance. For all his success elsewhere, he had never reached the World Series.
Neither had hardly any of the Royals, playing with other teams.
“I don't there is any butterflies. I think tonight proved that. We're all made for this. We're a championship team,” Kansas City reliever Tim Collins said.
“We've been waiting for this a long time. The city has been waiting for this a long time. We're not nervous. We're a tough team. With our backs against the wall, we came out and proved we're ready,” he said.
The wild card in this final game is Bumgarner.
By winning the opener and then pitching a shutout in Game 5, the Giants lefty established himself as an October great. How else to describe a pitcher who's 4-0 with an 0.29 ERA in four World Series starts, allowing just one run in 31 innings?
Giants manager Bruce Bochy certainly heard calls from some San Francisco fans that Bumgarner should start Game 7, albeit on two days' rest.
“This guy is human. I mean, you can't push him that much,” Bochy said. “He'll be available if we need him, but to start him, I think that's asking a lot.”
Speedy Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson says his team is ready, regardless of who's on the mound against them.
These are the two most exciting words in sports — Game 7.
“We're going to make history. The only way to make history is to win. We've got to win tomorrow. That's our goal, to win,” he said. “If we win, we can be in the history books.”