Before the Royals went down three games to two, leaving themselves with no path to victory besides forcing and prevailing in a winner-take-all Game 7, their manager, Ned Yost, admitted to secretly hoping that the 2014 Fall Classic would go the distance.
On Tuesday, the Royals granted their skipper’s wish with a decisive 10-0 beat-down of Jake Peavy and the Giants. Kansas City scored seven times in the second inning, induced a double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the third, and never looked back.
Here are five things you didn’t know about the game.
1. Kauffman Stadium has long been a house of horrors for Peavy, who took the loss there in Game 2 and entered last night 1-6 in eight starts at the Royals’ home yard. The 33-year-old’s 6.50 ERA in Kansas City, amassed primarily during his stint with the White Sox, was the worst authored by any pitcher with at least 40 innings of work at the venue.
Peavy stranded runners at the corners in the first inning, but the Royals quickly snatched any momentum the right-hander built up with four hits in five batters to begin the second. A ducksnort, a line-drive single, a sharp grounder down the first-base line that got underneath a diving Brandon Belt for a double, a ground ball to Belt on which the Giants squandered an opportunity to record an out and a hard grounder past a diving third baseman Pablo Sandoval put an early end to Peavy’s night.
Moments after Peavy extended a dubious all-time record with his ninth consecutive postseason start of fewer than six innings, he watched all three of the runners he left score on Yusmeiro Petit’s watch. The carnage: five runs in 1 1/3 innings — including the biggest single frame in Royals postseason history — bumping Peavy’s already-awful ERA at Kauffman Stadium to 7.28.
2. Perhaps addled by the long wait to return to the mound, Yordano Ventura committed the cardinal sin of walking the bases loaded with a seven-run lead. But the 23-year-old earned a reprieve by coaxing a 6-4-3 twin killing off the bat of Buster Posey, and the Giants scarcely threatened the shutout the rest of the way.
The flame-throwing rookie completed seven innings, permitting just three hits, walking five and fanning four. Ventura only notched six swings-and-misses, but he was effectively wild in the third inning and simply effective in the other six. The Giants’ only extra-base hit was a second-inning double by Hunter Pence — and that ball was slapped down the first-base line. Ventura’s command and control left a bit to be desired, but he overcame those shortcomings with pure stuff that the Giants could not square up.
In doing so, Ventura became the first pitcher age 23 or younger to toss seven or more scoreless frames in a World Series game since Madison Bumgarner did it in 2010 and 2012. He is also just the fifth Dominican-born starter ever to earn a World Series win.
3. The Royals’ 10th and final tally came after the seventh-inning stretch, when the game was well in hand and the party was on at Kauffman Stadium. Third baseman Mike Moustakas launched a Hunter Strickland offering 391 feet to right field for his fifth home run of the postseason, a franchise record.
The bottom third of Yost’s order jump-started the second-inning rally and continued to produce throughout the evening. Batting seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively, Salvador Perez, Moustakas and Infante each collected two hits. All nine of Kansas City’s starters had at least one by the end of the third inning.
Meanwhile, for Strickland, Moustakas’s shot was gopher ball no. 6 of the playoffs, an all-time major-league high for a single October. The first-year righty’s record, set when Omar Infante went deep against him in Game 2, is now even more likely to stand the test of time.
4. The sixth games of Fall Classics have long spelled trouble for the Giants, which might explain why they were so eager to down the Rangers in five in 2010 and sweep the Tigers in 2012. San Francisco’s most recent Game 6 blues came a dozen years ago, at Angel Stadium, where the Giants blew a five-run lead in the late innings with a chance to capture the organization’s first title since it moved west from New York.
Somewhat frighteningly for Giants fans, the 2014 Fall Classic has precisely tracked the 2002 battle with the Halos, in which San Francisco took Game 1 on the road, dropped Game 2 away and Game 3 at home, bounced back to take Games 4 and 5 at AT&T Park and dropped Game 6 in Anaheim. If history is destined to repeat itself, the Royals will prevail, like the Angels did, in Game 7 tonight.
5. While the Royals chased Peavy just four outs into the game, they weren’t able to force Giants manager Bruce Bochy to use one of his primary relievers. Likewise, the Giants failed to mount a sufficient threat to lead Yost to warm up Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis or Greg Holland.
As a result, both clubs’ best bullpen arms will be well rested for Game 7, and the Game 5 starters, Bumgarner and James Shields, are available to help out, too. Neither side needs much length from its starter tomorrow. With a full menu of matchup options at their disposal, the skippers will happily settle for as many scoreless innings as they can get.
Daniel Rathman is a writer and editor for Baseball Prospectus. He has previously been a new media intern for New England Sports Network and served as editor-in-chief of The Tufts Daily during the spring of 2012. Daniel is also a second-year urban planning student at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and a research assistant at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.
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