KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Breaking down Game 2 of the World Series from Kauffman Stadium:.
Box score:Royals 7, Giants 2; Series tied, 1-1.
The final: The Royals finally strung together a few hits when they needed them, culminating in a five-run sixth inning as they bounced back from a blowout loss in Game 1. Billy Butler snapped a 2-2 tie with an RBI single and Salvador Perez and Omar Infante followed with the team’s fourth and fifth extra-base hits of the night to turn a close game into a rout. Kansas City went 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position after going 0-for-3 in Game 1.
Starter Yordano Ventura scattered eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, Kelvin Herrera came in to work out of a jam and the vaunted Royals bullpen had no trouble protecting the lead the rest of the way.
State of the Series: The Series now heads west for Game 3 on Friday in San Francisco, the first of three in a row at AT&T Park. The homestanding Giants will have right-hander Tim Hudson on the mound. In his first season with San Francisco, Hudson went 9-13 with a 3.57 ERA. He’s started twice in this postseason, allowing five earned runs in 13 2/3 innings (3.29 ERA).
The Royals will counter with veteran Jeremy Guthrie, 35, who finally made the first postseason start of his career last week against Baltimore. In Game 3 of the AL Championship Series, Guthrie allowed one earned run and three hits in five innings as the Royals pulled out a 2-1 win.
The biggest change will be the lack of a designated hitter under National League rules. “I’ll be prepared for whatever the team needs, and hopefully I’ll come up in a big situation and contribute,” said Royals DH Billy Butler.***.
Game 2 pivot point: With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain hit a leadoff single and Eric Hosmer drew a walk against tiring Giants starter Jake Peavy.
Right-handed reliever Jean Machi came on knowing he’d likely face only one batter: designated hitter Billy Butler. Instead, Butler promptly ripped a single to left field.
Cain was running hard from second and – with the inexperienced Travis Ishikawa playing left field – he got the green light from third base coach Mike Jirschele. The relay wasn’t close as Cain scored to put the Royals up 3-2.
From there, the floodgates opened and the Kauffman Stadium fountains erupted as Salvador Perez doubled in two runs and Omar Infante hit a two-run homer to left to make it 7-2.
Man of the moment: Although the Royals put the game away in the bottom of the sixth inning, reliever Kelvin Herrera kept the game close in the top of the inning when the Giants had an opportunity to take the lead.
With one out and the score tied at 2, Herrera replaced starter Yordano Ventura with runners at first and second. The flamethrowing right-hander was fully rested with a full week since his last live action in the final game of the AL Championship Series.
Herrera threw nothing but gas to Brandon Belt and Michael Morse, getting out of the inning on nine pitches — eight of them hitting 100 mph or more. Herrera got credit for the win when the Royals offense finally erupted in the bottom of the inning.
Needing a mulligan: All season long, Royals manager Ned Yost has relied on his team’s speed to help generate offense. After the Giants took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Royals leadoff man Alcides Escobar reached on an infield single and promptly took off for second.
However, Giants catcher Buster Posey possesses one of the better arms in the majors and his throw to second baseman Joe Panik was right on the money and in time to nail Escobar. The out ended up costing the Royals a run when Lorenzo Cain doubled and Billy Butler singled to drive him in later in the inning. Instead of a 2-1 lead after the first inning, the Royals had to settle for a 1-all tie.
Manager’s special: While Giants skipper Bruce Bochy was going through relievers like Earl Weaver through cigarettes, Royals manager Ned Yost casually followed the plan he has established throughout this postseason.
The new-and-improved Yost hasn’t been afraid to extend his bullpen arms to more than an inning per appearance, especially when they’ve had plenty of time to recover. Winning pitcher Kelvin Herrera went 1 2/3 innings to provide the bridge to Wade Davis and Greg Holland in the eighth and ninth.
In addition, Yost brought in speedy Jarrod Dyson to play center field in the sixth inning with the score tied – not waiting until his team had a lead to protect. That kind of proactive thinking has played a role of the Royals success this postseason.
What you missed on TV: As Infante was rounding the bases on his home run, Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Giants reliever Hunter Strickland exchanged words around home plate – reminiscent of Strickland’s exchange with Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals after his home run in the NL Division Series.
The commotion drew members of both dugouts out onto the field by the time Infante touched the plate. But there were no other incidents as Strickland was replaced by Jeremy Affeldt before throwing another pitch.