Sports

WORLD SERIES

Royals force decisive Game 7 with convincing win

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jake Peavy (left) is relieved by manager Bruce Bochy in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals during game six of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jake Peavy (left) is relieved by manager Bruce Bochy in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals during game six of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. (Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

KANSAS CITY - 

Many is the team that has won a World Series with three strong starting pitchers.

Back in 1989, the Oakland A’s even did it with two (Dave Stewart and Mike Moore), but they needed an earthquake to make it work.

We’re about to discover if the San Francisco Giants can do it with, for all practical purposes, one.

After the Kansas City Royals made embarrassingly short work of Jake Peavy Tuesday night on their way to a 10-0 romp in Game 6 to tie the World Series at 3-3, the Giants are in a world of trouble heading into Game 7 here Wednesday.

“It wasn’t pretty tonight but the best thing about this game is that we get to wash it off, go our way,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “The big inning killed us. Some of us thought it was going to seven games and this is where it’s at.”

Kansas City unleashed a 15-hit attack, most of it concentrated in a seven-run second inning ambush of Peavy by a Royals team that had mayhem on its mind.

K.C. manager Ned Yost was asked what being in a Game 7 of the World Series means to him.

“What I fall back on is,” said Yost, “when I was a kid, 10 years old, hitting rocks in the back yard, trying to hit it over the fence for a home run, I never once thought: ‘Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth, Game 5 of the World Series.’ Never. It was always Game 7 of the World Series. It’s special.”

Here is the sad statistical story of the San Francisco starting rotation that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about their plight going into Game 7.

Madison Bumgarner started and won Games 1 and 5. He has logged 16 innings, allowed seven hits and just one earned run while striking out 13, walking one. His ERA is 0.57. His body of work in this Series is as good as anybody’s in history.

In the other four games, the San Franscisco starters, combined, have pitched 14.2 innings, allowed 23 hits, five walks, 16 earned runs with seven strikeouts. Their combined ERA is 9.82 and the Giants have to consider themselves fortunate they didn’t lose all four games.

Tim Hudson is in the Royals’ crosshairs in Game 7. He started Game 3 for San Francisco and did a workmanlike job in his first-ever World Series start at the age of 39, but was tagged with a 3-2 loss. San Francisco’s best hope is to get whatever they can out of Hudson and get him to safety without damage as soon as possible, then ride Bumgarner’s golden left arm as far as it can take them on two days’ rest.

“My goal is to go as deep as I can,” said Hudson. “It’s nice to know we’ve got some guys out there behind me ready to come in and get the job done. I’m ready to have some fun. I’ve waited a long time for this.”

Bochy made it more than clear that Bumgarner will be his first option when he feels that Hudson’s time is up. How much or how long he can go is up to the situation.

“The best thing I can tell you is that we’ll watch him,” said Bochy. “I can’t tell you how far he could go, how many pitches he could go. I think you just have to read him and see how he’s doing out there.”

The dam burst so quickly on Peavy that it quickly became pointless to risk using Bumgarner in this one, but Hudson will be on a very short leash Wednesday.

Game 6 was over in the bottom of the second inning when the Royals sent 11 men to the plate against Peavy and reliever Yusmeiro Petit, scoring seven runs. Eight of the first nine batters had base hits in that inning.

Meanwhile, Yordano Ventura won his first World Series game, shutting out the Giants over seven innings on three hits but did walk five batters.

“You’ve got a 23-year-old kid, pitching the biggest game this stadium has seen in 29 years, with our backs to the wall, and he goes out there in complete command of his emotions, with great stuff and throws seven shutout innings,” marvelled Yost. “You can’t be on a bigger stage than he was on tonight.”

After working around a walk and a single in the first inning, Peavy gave up three consecutive hits to start the second. Alex Gordon singled to lead off the inning, Sal Perez followed with a solid single and then Mike Moustakas doubled down the first-base line, scoring a run and putting runners at second and third with nobody out.

Peavy rallied to strike out Omar Infante but he was, by this time, swimming against a strong tide. Alcides Escobar hit a soft bouncer right at first baseman Brandon Belt. Belt spent too much time looking Perez back to third before trying to get to the baseline to tag out Escobar who was safe at first, loading the bases. Nori Aoki then delivered a single into left field to score Perez to make it 2-0.

That was it for Peavy and Bochy went to his secret weapon out of the bullpen, but Petit’s magic wasn’t there.

Lorenzo Cain was Petit’s first assignment and he looped a two-run single into right-centre. After Cain went to second on a wild pitch, Eric Hosmer chopped a single that bounded high over shortstop Crawford’s head for another two-run single to make it 6-0. Billy Butler’s double into the right-centre gap completed the scoring, delivering Hosmer home from first base.

The Royals added on three times after that, including Mike Moustakas’ fifth home run of the playoffs, a solo shot in the seventh.

Aside from the obvious, Kansas City’s sudden, early lead gave them other advantages going into Game 7. With the game essentially decided by the third inning, Yost was able to give his lockdown bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland another night of rest, setting them up to dominate, if necessary, the late innings on Wednesday.

It’s conceivable that he could start that procession out of the bullpen as early as the fifth inning if Kansas City can get the lead behind starter Jeremy Guthrie.

“For Ventura to give us seven innings, then to have (Jason) Frasor and (Tim) Collins come in and get it finished, it allowed us to keep our big guns fresh for tomorrow,” said Yost.


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