SAN FRANCISCO — Game 7, it is. Win or go home.
The San Francisco Giants trekked back to Kansas City with a chance to take the Series, but took a sucker punch that knocked them right back to square one.
The Royals spoiled the Giants’ World Series clincher with a 10-0 drubbing Tuesday night, forcing a seventh and final game to decide the rightful heir to the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Both clubs are happy to be in this stressful situation. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said:
“This is what you work for and start in Spring Training. If you had told me we were playing in Game 7 of the World Series, we would be doing cartwheels.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is excited that it’s come down to the wire:
“I mean, Game 7’s are always special. What I fall back on is when I was 10 years old, hitting rocks in the back yard, trying to hit it over the fence for a home run. I never thought, ‘ok, bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth in Game 5 of the World Series.’ It was always ‘bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth in Game 7.'”
Jake Peavy took the mound for the second time this series and lasted just 1 1/3 innings after Kansas City rocked him for five hits in the nightmare-ish second inning.
Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez started off the inning with a pair of singles and Mike Moustakas brought the first run home with a hit of his own.
The following at bat, Alcides Escobar hit a soft ground ball to Brandon Belt. Peavy yelled for Belt to throw it home and catch a hesitating Perez at third, distracting Belt from the easy out at first and keeping the inning alive with just one out down.
Yusmeiro Petit, who was undefeated this postseason, took over with the bases loaded. Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler rallied for singles and a double to bring those runners home and make the score 7-0 going into the third inning. Peavy took five of those earned runs.
The Royals tacked on three more runs: one in the third off a pair of ground-rule doubles, another in the fifth and the final one in the seventh via a solo shot by Moustakas off reliever Hunter Strickland.
Royals’ starter Yordano Ventura, donning a cap honoring the late Oscar Taveras, delivered to help put his team back in contention. He pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, allowed three hits and struck out four.
Not only did Ventura ice the Giants, his performance preserved his bullpen’s arms for the big game tomorrow, said Yost:
“To get us through seven, and then (Jason) Frasor coming in and (Tim) Collins coming in, it keeps all our big guns fresh and ready to go tomorrow. That was our intent once we got those seven runs was to get through the game without using (Brandon) Finnegan, without using (Kelvin) Herrera and (Greg) Hollande and Wade Davis.”
The Giants’ bats couldn’t get anything going. They posed one real scoring threat in the top of the third when Ventura walked three batters in a row. Buster Posey stepped up to the plate with one out against him, but hit into a first-pitch double play — a fastball up in the zone that he knocked just below the screws.
Bochy conceded victory early on after taking the early and deep deficit; he maneuvered his bullpen moves and outfield switches to rest his big guns for what looked like the inevitable seventh game.
Bochy said that was the silver lining to such a big shutout loss:
“You hate to have a game go like this but, no question, it does allow you to do some things you probably normally wouldn’t. If you get down that far, it allows you to use some other guys.”
Petit stayed in the game for the final two outs of the second while Jean Machi and Strickland — who aren’t necessarily part of the bullpen’s core — pitched for a collective five innings. Ryan Vogelsong pitched the eighth.
Andrew Susac replaced Buster Posey in the seventh. Joaquin Arias replaced Pablo Sandoval at third. Matt Duffy filled in a shortstop and Juan Perez took over for Travis Ishikawa in left.
The Giants have a messy relationship with World Series Game 7’s. They lost it in 2002 to the Anaheim Angels and in 1962 to the New York Yankees when Bobby Richardson snatched Willie McCovey’s long line drive that would have brought Willie Mays, at second, and Felipe Alou, at third, home for the win.
But many of these Giants have played their fair share of playoff Game 7’s; see the 2012 NLDS and NLCS.
Fans may expect Bochy to send ace Madison Bumgarner, who’s started six games this postseason and two already this series, to pitch the deciding game.
Bochy said there’s no way, but he will be available in the bullpen for a big out:
“We want to take care of him. He’s still available…This is the last game of the year, so it’s easier to push a guy on the last game as opposed to doing it twice.”
Game 7 will be Wednesday at 5:07 p.m. Tim Hudson will have a chance to help win his first World Series ring as he faces Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie.