Try as he might, Royals closer Greg Holland admitted that pitching in the playoffs does differ from the regular season.
“The biggest key for me is to prepare the same way,” Holland said, “and then work on your breathing a little bit.”
The celebrated bullpen trio of Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera certainly sucked the air out of the San Francisco Giants in Wednesday’s second game of the World Series.
The final score — a 7-2 Royals victory that tied the series — was deceiving, because the bullpen played a vital role.
Herrera entered in the sixth inning when the game was tied 2-2. Starter Yordano Ventura had allowed two singles wrapped around an out.
Manager Ned Yost was determined to keep the Giants from pushing ahead, and Herrera quelled the uprising. Brandon Belt lofted a flyball to left and Michael Morse grounded to Alcides Escobar at short.
The Royals seized control with a five-run outburst in the bottom half of the inning, and that was more than enough for the Royals’ three-headed beast.
Herrera, who got the victory, tossed 12/3 hitless innings, although he walked two. Davis struck out two in a perfect eighth, and Holland allowed a two-out single but struck out three.
The key moment was Herrera’s rescue job. He threw nine pitches in the sixth inning, and eight were at least 100 mph. Five reached 101 mph.
Herrera admitted it was a key moment in the game.
“I didn’t want a run to score there,” Herrera said. “Maybe we could lose.”
Herrera insisted that reaching triple digits (he threw 14 pitches that reached 100 mph) on the radar gun wasn’t a big deal.
“I feel like I was when I was 16 years old, throwing 89 (mph),” Herrera said. “Same feeling.”
After escaping danger, Herrera followed his usual routine after getting to the dugout.
He checked the video.
“I want to learn for my next outing,” Herrera said. “I just want to see where I was throwing the ball, what I was doing wrong.”
While the Royals’ five-run outburst paved the way to the victory, the time off wasn’t beneficial for Herrera.
“I got like 33 minutes of rest,” Herrera said. “It was a little long for sitting down and waiting to pitch again.”
Herrera worked around two walks in the seventh, then handed the baton to Davis and then Holland.
It looked like the same bullpen success story that Yost has witnessed all year. Even the week off between the American League Championship Series and the World Series didn’t take the edge off the relievers.
“No, it didn’t affect them,” Yost said. “It helped them.”