On my preview of Game 2 of the World Series, heard across our Missourinet radio network on Wednesday afternoon, I stated the key for the Royals to win game two was for pitcher Yordano Ventura to be able to get into the sixth inning keeping it a one run game in either direction.
Royals manager Ned Yost needed to be able to get this game to his dominant bullpen if they wanted hopes of tying this series up. The rookie pitcher did exactly that. He pitched into the sixth, ran into trouble, but got bailed out by Kelvin Herrera who was hitting 100+ mph on the radar gun.
The bats came alive to chase Jake Peavy and beat up on a rusty San Francisco bullpen for five runs in the sixth, pushing the Royals to a 7-2 victory. The Series moves to San Francisco on Friday tied up at 1-1.
The game had an eerie feeling to it when Gregor Blanco led off the game hitting a 3-2 pitch from Ventura into the right field bullpen to give the Giants another first inning lead. However, Ventura showed great poise and retired the next three in order.
The Royals’ hitters were in a bit of a dilemma. They needed to show a little more patience at the plate than what they did in game one, but the scouting report on Jake Peavy is to attack him early. After Peavy gave up a lead off single to Alcides Escobar, his second baseman Joe Panik made a great play on a throw from Buster Posey to nab Escobar at second trying to steal. With two outs, Lorenzo Cain doubled and Peavy made the mistake of walking Eric Hosmer. That brought up Billy Butler who had 13-career hits against Peavy coming into the game and Butler laced a single into left center tying the game at 1-1 after the first.
A two-out double by Escobar in the second gave the Royals the lead after Omar Infante’s one out double.
The Giants have had success so far in this series getting the leadoff batter home when they reach base. Pablo Sandoval doubled and scored on Brandon Belt’s double tying the game a 2-2 in the fourth. The Royals caught a break when a fly ball to Nori Aoki in right field warranted a hard throw back into the infield as Belt acted as if he would tag up. The throw in from Aoki was off the mark. As the ball got away on the infield, Belt started for third, but tried to turn back. Ventura got the loose ball and fired to second picking Belt off ending the threat.
The Giants put the leadoff hitter on again in the fifth and then in sixth on a single by Buster Posey. A one out infield single from Hunter Pence put two men on and prompted Yost to go to Herrera. Throwing as hard as 101 mph, Herrera coaxed a fly out and force out to end the threat.
Now the Royals were ready for Peavy who had settled down after the first two innings to retire ten straight. Interesting fact about Peavy in the postseason. In his seven previous starts, Peavy has never been able to finish the sixth inning. We’re talking about a previous Cy Young winner and three time All-Star.
With a pitch count of only 54, it looked like Peavy was in shape to get through seven or possibly eight, but the Royals responded. Lorenzo Cain singled and Eric Hosmer walked and just like that Peavy’s night was done, making it an eighth straight playoff non-quality start.
The Giants needed four pitchers to get through the inning after Jean Machi gave up a single to left for Butler’s second RBI of the game. Javier Lopez faced Alex Gordon and Hunter Strickland came on and gave up an RBI double to Salvador Perez following a wild pitch, scoring two more runs. Strickland then gave up a two run homer to Infante and the benches briefly cleared after a misunderstanding at home plate between Strickland and Perez.
Frustration was clearly boiling over for a San Francisco bullpen that had been just as effective as Kansas City’s in the postseason. The Giants ‘pen entered Game Two having gone 10.2 innings without allowing a run.
“We showed them that we have fight in us, and I think they knew that already,” said Butler. We stepped up big there as a team, and that gave us some confidence.”
With a 7-2 lead, Herrera, after sitting for a half-hour struggled early in the seventh, but finished it off. Then Wade Davis and Greg Holland got in some work and closed it out.
Those three relievers combined for 3.2 innings, one hit, two walks and six strikeouts. Prior to the start of the World Series, the Royals bullpen went 16 innings against Baltimore and allowed just two runs.
The advantage leans heavily towards the Royals bullpen, but National League ballpark rules come into play. The factors to watch in San Francisco is how Yost will handle the pitcher batting and double switches in late-inning situations.