World Series Game 2 Recap: How the Royals Drew Even With the Giants
Game 2 of the World Series hinged on the decisions of both managers in the middle innings.
Ned Yost and Bruce Bochy had decisions to make in the fateful sixth inning of last night's series-evening 7-2 win by the Kansas City Royals over the San Francisco Giants. They had to decide at which point to remove their starting pitcher and go to the bullpen. In this game, though, a World Series game, each and every plate appearance can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Last night, in what can only be described as a shocking turn of events, it was Yost who pushed all the right buttons and Bochy who made some critical errors that allowed Kansas City to put five runs on the board in the sixth.
Of course, Yost had the benefit of knowing that virtually everyone Kansas City had at their disposal last night could throw in the upper 90s and triple-digits.
His starter, Yordano Ventura averaged 97 miles an hour on his four-seam fastball during the regular season and threw a cutter that averaged 94.3. Kelvin Herrera, the man who came into the sixth inning to relieve Ventura, averaged 98.1 mph on his fastball this year, and last night amped it up a notch.
Eight fastballs for Herrera in that inning. Your MPH readings: 101, 100, 101, 101, 101, 100, 101, 100. Call the cops. #worldseries— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 23, 2014
That's a nice little toy to have.
Wade Davis, Yost's set-up man, averaged 95.7 mph on his fastball this season, and closer Greg Holland averaged 95.8 in 2014. As a result, the Kansas City bullpen pitched 3.2 innings of hitless baseball in Game 2, striking out 6 and walking 2. Meanwhile, the Giants used five pitchers to get through the ill-fated sixth inning, with Hunter Strickland giving up the big blasts, a two-run double to catcher Salvador Perez that gave the Royals a three-run lead, and this two-run blast from second baseman Omar Infante that put the game away.
For one night at least, it was Yost, not Bochy, who made the right choices, although Bochy's bullpen has been stellar in the playoffs too.
The Giants have some strong tossers of their own, including Strickland, who was throwing 97 and 98 miles an hour last night. Unfortunately for him, he was throwing those speedy straightballs right down the middle, and Royals hitters were bombing them.
Throwing hard isn't the end-all, be-all. Control is key, and having a good secondary pitch is essential for a major league pitcher. Strickland didn't have either last night.
In Game 2, the Giants allowed 7 runs, and last night's loss snapped a 7-game World Series winning streak in which they allowed 8 runs total. Meanwhile, the Royals are now 9-1 in the postseason and have won 12 of their last 13 playoff games, dating back to Game 5 of the 1985 World Series.
Most importantly for Kansas City, their Game 2 win prevented them from falling into a difficult 0-2 hole in the Series. Teams that had fallen behind 0-2 in previous World Series had gone on to lose 44 of 52 Fall Classics. That won't be the case this year.
Instead, attention now turns to the critical Game 3. According to Elias, when the World Series is tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to with the series 70% of the time (38-16). And Giants fans should feel good about the team returning home for Games 3, 4 and 5.
Since the start of the 2010 playoffs, San Francisco is 14-6 at home in the postseason and went 45-36 at AT&T Park this season. Meanwhile, Kansas City went 47-34 on the road this year, better than their 42-39 record at Kauffman Stadium. One thing that could hurt Kansas City is not having Billy Butler in the starting lineup, thanks to rules that remove the designated hitter from the lineup in a National League park.
Our projections still give the advantage to San Francisco, especially with the next three all at home. But at least Kansas City has made this a series. And they can thank their oft-criticized manager, and a flame-throwing bullpen, for getting the job done.