It was going just as they had dreamed it would early on, and then it got hairy. Really hairy. And stayed that way to the very end.
And because these are the 2014 Giants, that should have been all but expected. The exact same description you read in the above paragraph just as aptly applies to their regular season, right? And their playoff journey as a whole.
The first inning and a half of Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday in Kansas City were akin to the first two months of San Francisco's regular season, its wild-card pummeling of the Pirates. Everything was not just going to plan, it was going beyond that.
Sentimental favorite Tim Hudson, the oldest man in history to start a Game 7 of the Fall Classic, in the first World Series of a 16-year career marked by class and consistency, was handed the early lead that everyone agreed was an absolute must for the Giants. Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence, staying true to their postseason-stud status, sparked a rally that put Hudson up 2-0.
Almost too good to be true. Hell, scratch the almost. It absolutely was too good to be true, and we all know what they say about that.
Following the laborious lead of fellow grizzled vet Jake Peavy, Hudson just wasn't quite up on the task. In failing to get the shutdown frame he needed, Hudson saw his lifetime dream disintegrate in a hurry as the resilient Royals came roaring right back, ensuring their rabid fans wouldn't stay silent for long.
As Hudson made the excruciatingly long walk off the mound and into the winter, the bottom of the second inning far from over, you couldn't help but flash back to the miserable middle two months of the regular season, to the various oh-crap moments of the NL Division Series and NL Championship Series, and, of course, the losses in Games 2 and 3 of the World Series.
But as they illustrated down the stretch of the regular season and in each of the three postseason series, the Giants don't stay down for long. Reflective of Bruce Bochy, their underrated, understated skipper, they reaped the benefits of maintaining an even keel while dusting themselves off and making something positive happen.
So back to work when “Panda” and Pence, starting another rally to give Hudson's game replacement, Jeremy Affeldt, a one-run lead, which got handed after the fourth inning to Madison Bumgarner, who further cemented his October legend with a near-flawless night of on two days of rest, fumes and controlled fury.
The pressure of the situation was suffocating, but MadBum was spectacular as the countdown commenced.
Nine outs to go, eight, seven.
The last out of the seventh was nothing short of breathtaking, Omar Infante waving helplessly, pretty much comically, at a slurvely ol' thing on an 0-2 count.
Six outs to go, at which point the question was this: How many more bullets — make that snot rockets — did MadBum have left?
Not that Bochy even pondered the question. Nobody in the Giants' dugout did. Bumgarner calmly took a seat in the dugout, entranced, knowing damn well he was heading back out for at least three more of those outs.
Strikeout on high heat. Five outs to go. Weak grounder to short. Four outs to go. Infield popup on 2-2. Nobody hits it.
Three outs to go, and everywhere the game was seen, one awed observer turned to another and said, “You gotta to be kidding me.”
Dare Bochy try to get a FIFTH inning out of his ace? Of course he did. Only it wasn't a daring call in the slightest. It was as much a no-brainer as was naming Bumgarner the Series MVP.
At the point, you kind of wanted the Giants to go quickly in their half of the ninth — get that beast back out there on the bump and wrap this bad boy up.
The Giants complied. So did Bumgarner.
Another strikeout. Two outs to go. Foul pop. One out to go.
And then … oh crap. Of course. The Keystone Kops showed up in the outfield, just to make it interesting. Two down, Game 7, tying run at third base in the bottom of the ninth.
Rattled? Please. Bumgarner, seemingly a man without calmly coaxed another foul pop on another 2-2 pitch, and a dynastic — don't even try to argue the point — third world title in five years went into the books.
The partying and parade planning began.
That whisper you heard when it all went down was Cinderella, all decked out in Royals blue, mumbling her own, “Oh, crap.”
The scream you heard? That was Hudson, a world champ at last.
Too good to be true? Nope. Convention, you see, applies not to this team. Not at the very end.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).