World Series Update: Royals Win as Series Shifts Back to San Francisco
The Giants started off with a bang in the top of the first as leadoff hitter Gregor Blanco worked hard-throwing Royals starter Yordano Ventura deep into the count before driving the eighth pitch (a 98 mph fastball) of the at-bat 385 feet over the left field wall.
Blanco thereby became the first Giant and only the fourth National Leaguer to ever hit a leadoff home run in the World Series.
Jake Peavy, the Giants starter, gave up a leadoff infield hit to Alcides Escobar, but Escobar was later wiped out trying to steal on a strike thrown by Giants catcher Buster Posey to second baseman Joe Panik. Lorenzo Cain then followed with a double in the gap between center and left.
Eric Hosmer then walked on four pitches, bringing up Billy Butler with two on and two out. Butler promptly drove in Cain, tying the game. But Peavy got out of the inning by inducing Alex Gordon to pop out to end the inning.
1-1 after one.
The Royals took a 2-1 lead on a pair of doubles -- by Omar Infante and Escobar -- in the second.
The Giants tied it up with their own pair of doubles in the fourth -- first Pablo Sandoval's soaring double to the deepest part of center field followed by Brandon Belt's liner to right.
By the game's midpoint, after 4½ innings, the score was 2-2.
In the the top of the sixth, singles by Buster Posey and Hunter Pence chased Ventura, as the Royals brought in another flame-thrower, reliever Kelvin Herrera. This guy had not allowed a home run since 2013 -- 420 batters ago. He got Belt to fly out to left and then faced Michael Morse, who grounded out hard to short.
That made it 422.
The tie score now migrated to the bottom of the sixth, when Cain singled and Hosmer walked, which chased Peavy, bringing in Giants RP Jean Machi.
Butler singled, giving the Royals the lead, 3-2, with two on and no outs. Out went Machi and in came Javier Lopez. At this point, the momentum in this game had clearly shifted to the Royals.
The home team smelled blood.
Lopez got out number one. Giants manager Bruce Bochy then brought in rookie Hunter Strickland. Using the inexperienced Strickland has been a point of controversy among Giants fans this postseason, due to his propensity to throw home run balls.
But he is the Giants only 100 mph reliever, so Bochy was clearly rolling the dice, trying to match the Royals' bullpen.
Strickland threw a wild pitch. Runners on second and third, one out. Perez then delivered the game-killer, a double that scored two runs. Royals up 5-2.
Infante then delivered the double kill by driving a two-run homer to left, and the party began in Kansas City.
Strickland exploded on the mound and was pulled by Bochy. He clearly is not ready for prime time. And in what will be widely interpreted as a very bad managerial decision, Bochy put him at risk for exactly this kind of meltdown.
With KC up 7-2, the game was effectively over. But in the bottom of the seventh, in what may have proven to be a significant factor later in the series, Bochy brought in Tim Lincecum for his first appearance this postseason.
Lincecum pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
Bochy then brought the two-time Cy Young winner back in the bottom of the eighth.
Then something scary happened. With two outs, Lincecum got hurt on a pitch trying to finish the inning. With no word initially on what was wrong, closer Santiago Casilla came in to finish Lincecum's brilliant two-inning outing.
In the top of the ninth, Royals closer Greg Holland shut down the Giants, and the Royals had their first World Series win in 29 years.
On to Game 3 in San Francisco Friday night, with the series knotted at one game apiece.