By now you’ve heard the stat. Going back to 1982, eight of ten teams that returned home down 3-2 in the World Series came back to win the championship.
The Royals moved one step closer to becoming the ninth of 11, when they rocked the San Francisco Giants 10-0 in Game 6 of the World Series, Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals are looking for their second title.
There were three key areas the Royals needed to control and they accomplished each of those to perfection.
First, the Royals needed to get to Giants starter Jake Peavy…and I mean early. The reason? Giants manager Bruce Bochy had his full compliment of pitchers with two days rest, following a day off and Madison Bumgarner’s complete game. Bochy wouldn’t have to rely on five or six innings from Peavy, like he tried back in Game 2. Instead Bochy could go to someone like Yusmeiro Petit whenever he felt he needed.
Lorenzo Cain walked and Eric Hosmer singled with two outs, but Billy Butler grounded out to end the first inning. In the second, the Royals got going and didn’t stop.
Alex Gordon hit a flare to short center, just his third hit of the Series, and moved to third on a single by Salvador Perez. Mike Moustakas, moved up in the order by Ned Yost, ripped a shot down the first base line for a double scoring Gordon and putting the runners on second and third. After an Omar Infante strikeout, Peavy got Alcides Escobar to tap towards the first base side. Brandon Belt hesitated to see if Perez would come home, then Belt got stuck in no man’s land, having no time to flip to second baseman Joe Panik at first or tag the speedy Escobar. That loaded the bases, instead of giving Peavy two outs. That play was the turning point of the game.
Nori Aoki got his first hit of the World Series on a single to left scoring Perez and keeping the bases loaded. Peavy’s night was done.
First goal accomplished: Get at least three runs off Peavy. His line: 1.1 innings, six hits, five earned runs.
Bochy went to Petit, who entered the game with 12 scoreless playoff innings and 13 strikeouts, while allowing just four hits and four walks. This was the second objective the Royals needed to handle…prove they could hit the deceptive Petit.
Cain kept the rally going, singling off Petit, scoring two more runs to make it 5-0. Cain then advanced on a wild pitch, giving Hosmer two runners in scoring position. Hosmer ripped a double making it a 7-0 game and Butler followed with the team’s third double of the inning to make it 8-0.
Goal two accomplished: Hit Petit. His line: 2/3 of an inning, three hits, two earned runs.
The Royals added solo runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings as Bochy used Jean Machi, Hunter Strickland and then starter Ryan Vogelsong to clean up the mess.
With the exception of Petit, Bochy still has his top bullpen arms available, including two lefties and the use of Madison Bumgarner for relief to come in after Tim Hudson starts Game 7. However, by the Royals being able to get to Petit, that gave Yordano Ventura the cushion he needed to go deep in the game.
That was the final objective. Get a quality start out of Ventura. Yost had a bullpen that was taxed. Kelvin Herrera looked gassed, Wade Davis was hit in Game 5. If Yost had to call on those arms again for Tuesday’s game and then need them for a potential Game 7, they wouldn’t have made it.
Stacked with a seven run lead, then eight as Ventura entered the fourth inning, he just rared back and threw a lot of fastballs. Ventura went seven innings, throwing 100 pitches, with over 65% of them clocking in the mid 90’s.
Goal three accomplished: Get a quality start from Ventura. His line: 7 innings, three hits, no runs, five walks and four strikeouts.
Yost used Jason Frasor for the eighth and ninth and now we have a Game 7 final that will feature stocked bullpens with fresh arms and two teams coming off stretches where they both hit the ball really well. By the Royals being able to rest Herrera and Davis, along with Holland, Yost has his ‘pen set up for his formula of success.
Win the first six innings on Wednesday and the Royals likely “Take The Crown.”