Ventura's pitching, Royals' explosive bats annihilate Giants to force Game 7
The 2014 World Series will go the distance, just as Royals manager Ned Yost had predicted. With the series back at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night, Yost’s Royals erupted for seven second-inning runs and coasted to a 10-0 victory, thus evening the World Series in resounding fashion and forcing the Fall Classic's first Game 7 since 2011 and just the fourth of the millennium.
A few quick thoughts:
1. The Big One
After waiting too long to pull Jake Peavy in Game 2, manager Bruce Bochy said prior to the game that he would have a quicker hook, and from the beginning it was apparent he would need it. Peavy used 19 pitches to get through the first inning and avoided allowing a run only due to a baserunning blunder. On an Eric Hosmer single to leftfield in which Travis Ishikawa slipped and then threw to second base, Lorenzo Cain — who had been on first but was nearing third — might have scored had he been able to pick up third base coach Mike Jirschele waving him around. He did not because Jirschele wasn't far enough down the line, and Peavy escaped by getting Billy Butler to ground out.
He wasn't so lucky in the second. The Royals began the inning with three straight hits, a pair of singles by Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez and then a Mike Moustakas double that squirted down the first base line past Brandon Belt, scoring Gordon. The flurry prompted Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti to pay a visit to the mound, while Bochy got both long relief ace Yusmeiro Petit and lefty specialist Javier Lopez throwing in the bullpen.
Peavy responded by striking out Omar Infante, then inducing Alcides Escobar to hit an infield grounder to the right side. Belt fielded the ball between the mound and first base, looked home to freeze the runners, then chose a footrace to first over a flip to Joe Panik, who was covering (Peavy, for his part, was still pointing home). Belt lost the race, though the other runners held.
When Aoki singled through the left side to score Perez, Peavy's night was done after 1 1/3 innings — the shortest Game 6 start since the Yankees' Whitey Ford in 1958.
Petit came on in relief and immediately fell victim to the BABIP blues as well, as Cain blooped a single to short centerfield, scoring both Moustakas and Escobar to widen the gap to 4-0. After Cain took second on a wild pitch, Hosmer hit a chopper that bounced in front of the plate and still carried over shortstop. That brought home Aoki and Cain, with Hosmer hustling to second for a double. He came home when Butler doubled to deep right center, running the score to 7-0. The rally finally ended when Belt speared Alex Gordon's hard grounder for the second out and Petit induced Perez to foul out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval to end the inning.
In all, the Royals collected eight hits in the inning. Five of the runs were charged to Peavy, who for the ninth time in as many postseason starts failed to complete six innings. Notably, Petit exited the game after the inning having thrown just 17 pitches, presumably leaving him available for higher-leverage duty in Game 7.
2. Ventura Digs Deep
Rookie Yordano Ventura took the mound with a heavy heart over the death of his friend Oscar Taveras, to whom he paid tribute with an inscription on his cap: "RIP O.T. #18". Save for an odd pair of staredowns with Sandoval -- one on a comebacker and the other on a walk; Sandoval said afterward, "It's part of the game. Probably he's jealous that I've got two World Series" -- he looked entirely composed, at times even loose, over the course of his seven shutout innings.
He did struggle with his command for a stretch, and it threatened to let the Giants back into the game. After retiring the side 1-2-3 in the first, working around a Hunter Pence double in the second and striking out Ishikawa to start the third, Ventura proceeded to walk the bases loaded. He issued a five-pitch walk to Brandon Crawford, missed on four straight to Gregor Blanco and then lost an 11-pitch battle with Panik. On the very next pitch, however — a 97 mph fastball at the top of the strike zone — he got Buster Posey to ground to Escobar to start an inning-ending double play.
After using 24 pitches in that inning, Ventura needed just 35 over the next three as he allowed only one single and one walk. He allowed a couple runners to reach base with two outs in the sixth, but escaped by getting Blanco to foul out to Moustakas on his 100th pitch of the night. In all, he yielded just three hits, struck out four and walked five.
He didn’t get cheated by the radar gun, either. According to the PITCHf/x data at BrooksBaseball.net, six of Ventura's 100 pitches reached triple digits, with a pitch he threw in the seventh topping out at 101.4. Sixty-nine of his pitches topped 95 mph, with his average four-seam fastball registering 96.9.
Thanks to Ventura’s deep outing and the lopsided score, the Royals’ A-list relievers didn’t even warm up, let alone get into the game. Thus Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland should all be plenty rested for Game 7.
3. You Get a Hit, and You Get a Hit…
Infante's double with one out in the third inning meant that all nine Royals starters collected a hit. That not only matched the Giants' feat of doing so in Game 2 (despite winding up on the short end of a 7-2 score), it marked the first World Series where it had ever happened more than once. Via the Baseball Reference.com Play Index, the feat has happened 23 times in all, the most recent of which prior to this year was by the White Sox in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series.