How the Royals Won Game 6 and What History Means for the Giants in Game 7
It all comes down to one game.
The San Francisco Giants have played 178 baseball games this year. The Royals have played 176. And after all those games, after all those innings, after all those at-bats, the 2014 Major League Baseball season comes down to one final game.
Game 7. The best two words in the English language.
The Royals forced a Game 7 last night at Kauffman Stadium by blowing the doors off the Giants with a 7-run second inning, running away to a 10-0 victory and a 3-3 tie in the Fall Classic. Their rookie starter, Yordano Ventura, staked his claim for World Series MVP honors with a seven inning, three-hit, five-walk performance last night in the biggest game of his career.
Meanwhile, on the San Francisco side of things, Jake Peavy had a rough go of it and was dinked, dunked, BABIP'd to death by Kansas City's Chinese Water Torture offense for 5 runs on 6 hits in 1.1 innings of work. Yusmeiro Petit, so good throughout this postseason, could not stop the bleeding, giving up two runs on three hits in that fateful second inning.
But that's what happens when a team, like the Royals, places its bat on the ball and puts the ball in play. It's also what happens when your number-2 starter, in this case Peavy, comes into the game with a career 7.05 ERA in 37 postseason innings and lacks the swing-and-miss stuff that can often negate some bad luck on balls in play.
But this wasn't all about Peavy's miscues. The heroes for the Royals were plentiful. There was, of course, the starting pitcher who reached triple digits at various points in the evening. There was Lorenzo Cain, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two walks and is hitting .318 in the World Series. There was Mike Moustakas, who went 2-for-4 and hit a key RBI double in the second inning and slammed his fifth home run of the playoffs in the seventh. His 20 hits this postseason ties Willie Wilson's franchise record for most hits in a single postseason.
Mike Moustakas: 5th HR this postseason Rest of Royals have combined for 6 HR— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 29, 2014
In fact, every Royals hitter in the starting lineup had at least one hit by the end of the third inning. Billy Butler returned to the lineup in the DH spot and notched a hit and a walk, including an RBI double in the second. And Salvador Perez tallied another 2 hits and is hitting a team-high .381 in the World Series.
Everyone joined in on the fun in Game 6.
So now it's onto Game 7. And if history is any gauge for what will happen tonight, things are looking good for Kansas City.
This is the 37th time in a best-of-7 World Series that it has gone to a Game 7.
No home team has lost a Game 7 of the World Series since 1979, when the Pirates beat the Orioles in Baltimore.
While recent trends indicate the home team has the advantage in Game 7, the home team has actually won just 50% of the 36 previous Game 7s in the World Series (road and home team have won 18 times).
The last time a road team lost Game 6 after leading the series 3-2 (like the Giants), and came back to win Game 7 on the road, was when the 1975 Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds picked themselves up off the mat and beat Carlton Fisk's Boston Red Sox.
If the Royals win, they would be the 20th team to rally from a 3-2 deficit to win the World Series.
The Giants are 2-3 all-time in World Series Game 7s, with three straight losses (2002 to Anaheim, 1962 to the Yankees, and 1924 to the Washington Senators). The Giants are also 0-4 all-time in World Series winner-take-all games.
And the Royals will play their third Game 7 in franchise playoff history. The previous 2 games each came in 1985 when the Royals beat the Blue Jays in the ALCS and the Cardinals in the World Series. Both times, they overcame a 3-1 deficit.
Of course, none of the players playing tonight played in any of these previous games. These are all new players, new coaches, new managers, and, for the most part, new fans. Tonight's Game 7 will be a completely separate entity with its own storylines to follow.
Among them are if and when the Giants will use Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner is on two days' rest, and while he won't get the start over Tim Hudson, manager Bruce Bochy is likely to call for him at some point in the game if Hudson gets into trouble. Will the Royals do the same with their ace, James Shields?
How many outs can each team receive from their starters tonight? Hudson often hits a wall once the sixth inning arrives, with a regular season ERA of 3.57 that balloons to 6.53 in the sixth inning. The Royals' Jeremy Guthrie tends to struggle in the early innings, with an ERA over 5 in innings 1, 3 and 4.
If the game goes to the bullpen early, only the premium arms will pitch. There is no tomorrow. Middle relievers need not apply. This game will feature starters, aces on short rest, Tim Lincecum, and the late-inning relievers of San Francisco and Kansas City that have largely performed so well this postseason.
Momentum is on the side of the Royals now. The starting pitching match-up is slightly in San Francisco's favor, but neither starter is expected to last long. Whose ace can hold up better on short rest? Which bullpen will falter first? Who will emerge as the hero offensively?
And which of these two teams will make history? Will the Royals win their first world championship in a generation? Or are the Giants on the verge of becoming a dynasty?
Just one more game is left to answer all those questions.