Madison Bumgarner rolled into Game 7 of the World Series like Gozer The Destructor and gave us one of the greatest postseason performances in history, and so you wouldn't be blamed for overlooking the contributions of the rest of the Giants on the field. With that in mind, let's take a moment to throw some praise on Joe Panik and Juan Perez.
Panik put his mark on the game in the third inning, stabbing a rocket off the bat of Eric Hosmer in and flipping the ball to second to start one of the prettiest double plays you'll ever see.
The diving stop is great, but it's the quickness and power behind the glove flip that really make this play. Lorenzo Cain is fast as hell (Lorenzo, why the hell are you sliding head first on the font end of a double play?), and a perfect flip was the only way he was going to have a chance at the out.
That's a simple enough task on the other side of the diamond, where you can flip the ball to second with a natural scooping motion, but putting any amount of juice on a backhand flip is another story. Panik did it with ease, lifting himself off the ground with his right hand and flinging the ball at Brandon Crawford so hard that it almost sailed over his head.
According to FanGraphs' win expectancy chart, the Royals' chances at winning the game were at their highest after Cain singled to start that inning. If Panik doesn't get that ball, the Royals would have likely had men on first and third with nobody out, and who the hell knows how the rest of the inning would have turned out.
A few innings later, it was Juan Perez making a play in left field that had as much to do with swinging the game in the Giants' favor as Bumgarner's pitching did. As Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti pointed out after the game, it took a few outs for Bumgarner to really find his feel for the game when he took the mound in the fifth. His velocity wasn't quite where it needed to be, and he had some trouble finding the zone against the first few batters he faced.
Bumgarner started his night by giving up a single to Omar Infante, who was then sacrificed over the second by Alcides Escobar. In the next at-bat, Nori Aoki laced a liner down the left field line, and for a brief moment it looked like Aoki had himself a sure double. The game was about to be tied, and Bumgarner's quest to become a postseason legend was all going to hell before it even really got started. And then came Juan Perez:
This play was less about raw ability—though you've gotta be fast to run down a liner like that—and more about preparation. Somebody, either Perez himself or a coach on the Giants' bench who told Perez where to stand, had done their homework on Aoki and knew to guard the line in that situation. It was all the help Bumgarner would need, but if Perez had been playing Aoki straight up, we might be talking about how Bumgarner blew the game today.
The only thing anyone is likely to remember from this game in, say, 20 years, is Madison Bumgarner's balls-out dominance, and that's exactly how it should be. But for now, at least, we can take some time to appreciate the guys who helped him along the way.