World Series Game 4 Recap: The Giants Draw Even
Well, the Giants finally cured their sixth inning problems.
After falling into an early three-run hole, San Francisco went on an offensive rampage in the middle innings of Saturday night's Game 4 of the World Series, bashing their way to an 11-4 win and evening the Fall Classic at two games a piece.
The Giants came back from a third inning, 4-1 hole by chip-chip-chipping away at Kansas City's lead before breaking through for three runs in the sixth. You may recall the sixth inning has been something of an issue for the Giants in this World Series. In Games 2 and 3, San Francisco had essentially lost both games in that inning, giving up five runs in Game 2 and two runs in Game 3.
However, in Game 4, they kept the Royals off the scoreboard in the top of the inning, and then got a two-run single from Pablo Sandoval and an RBI single from Brandon Belt in the bottom half that put them on top for good.
One crucial mistake in that momentum-turning sixth inning came from the Royals, who decided to play the infield in after intentionally walking Buster Posey to load the bases with one out and the scored tied 4-4. Hunter Pence, who grounded into 13 double plays in the regular season, hit a hard one-hopper right to shortstop Alcides Escobar. Only Escobar was playing in and decided to throw home for the force-out. That kept the bases loaded with two out, just in time for the heroics of Sandoval and Belt.
Of course, the Giants could have long been out of this game had it not been for the stupendous relief work by Yusmeiro Petit, who went three innings and gave up no runs on just two hits after the Royals had taken a 4-1 lead in the third inning. Petit now has a 2-0 record with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings this postseason, becoming the first pitcher ever with three scoreless appearances of at least three innings in one postseason.
Ryan Vogelsong lasted just 2.2 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits, many being of the dink-and-dunk variety. Vogelsong was an interesting choice to start Game 4. Bochy had the option to start his ace, Madison Bumgarner, on short rest, or possibly go with long reliever/spot starter Petit.
Petit was terrific as a reliever this year, with a 1.84 ERA in 49 relief innings, but in 68 innings as a starter, he posted an ERA of 5.03. Meanwhile, Bumgarner had never made a start on short rest, and Bochy felt he would have to start Vogelsong in Game 5 anyway, so he decided to use both on normal rest. And Vogelsong had done well in the postseason, with a career ERA of 2.16, and the Giants were 6-0 playoff starts started by him.
At the end of the night, things worked out for Bochy, as Petit shut the door in a crucial spot.
Royals starter Jason Vargas went four innings and gave up three runs on six hits, but couldn't last long enough to get the game into the hands of the Royals' best relievers, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Instead, Jason Frasor was tagged for the Giants' second run in one-third of an inning of work, while Brandon Finnegan suffered the most damage in the sixth and seventh innings, giving up five runs on five hits and two walks.
The Giants would tack on some more runs in the seventh, thanks to a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Tim Collins to make it 8-4 and a two-run double by the outstanding rookie Joe Panik that broke the game open, 10-4. A Pence double made it 11-4, and then some guy who spent most of the game in a canoe in McCovey Cove came into the game and raked an RBI triple... OK I made that last one up.
Needless to say, the floodgates opened.
And now the Giants are in the driver's seat, with a 55.8% chance of taking the series. They have their ace, Bumgarner, going for them in Game 5 against the struggling James Shields. Kansas City will have their top three relief pitchers all rested up and still have to home games at Kauffman Stadium in their back pockets.