On Tuesday night, the San Francisco Giants handed out a 7-1 beating to the Kansas City Royals. On Wednesday, it was the Royals’ turn.
Behind a strong hitting and pitching performance, the Royals evened their series with the Giants via a 7-2 win in Game 2, rebounding from their sole defeat in the postseason this year. The series now shifts to San Francisco for the next three games.
It wasn’t an elimination game, but if the Royals had any hopes for winning the World Series, this was a virtual must win for the team. Falling behind 0-2 would have meant Kansas City needed to win two out of three in San Francisco to even get the series back to their home field for potential Games 6 and 7. The Royals still aren’t assured of a return trip to Kansas City, but the chances of it happening are now significantly higher.
Through five innings, the game had the look of a pitcher’s duel. Neither side was shut out offensively, but at 2-2, each starting pitcher had done his job for the most part. In the sixth, however, the floodgates opened for Kansas City.
After a leadoff single and walk, Giants starter Jake Peavy was pulled in favor of reliever Jean Machi. Machi, however, didn’t fare any better on the mound, allowing an RBI single to Billy Butler – the only batter he faced. After Javier Lopez retired Alex Gordon, Hunter Strickland came into the game and also found his way into trouble. After a wild pitch, an RBI double by Salvador Perez scored two runs. Strickland wasn’t finished and promptly gave up a two-run home run to Omar Infante.
San Francisco didn’t give up any more runs, but the damage was clearly done by that point.
For Peavy, it was another disappointing outing. The Giants’ pitcher is 1-1 with a respectable 3.68 ERA in the postseason, but he has yet to complete six full innings in any of his three starts. The team simply can’t rely on him too much right now and while he didn’t go extremely deep into his regular season games (only once did he pitch eight innings), he routinely went at least six innings. If the Giants’ bullpen continues to struggle as they did on Wednesday, that will be a big issue for the team if they can’t get longer outings from their starters.
James Shields was lit up for the Royals in Game 1, but on Wednesday, Yordano Ventura and the bullpen got the team back on track. Ventura didn’t have a stellar game, giving up two runs in only 5 1/3 innings. But as they’ve done so many times this year, the Kansas City bullpen shut down opposing batters. Three relievers, including Kelvin Herrera, who picked up the win in relief of Ventura, combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
That was in stark contrast to the five runs that Peavy and the Giants’ pen allowed in only one inning.
Ironically, while the Royals cruised to a comfortable win, it was San Francisco who got of to a good start. Leading off the game, the Giants’ Gregor Blanco hit a solo home run to give San Francisco the early lead. Ventura settled down after that, however, and allowed only one more run.
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