Earlier this season, back when the Royals were scuffling, Wade Davis sat next to me in the dugout and talked about how great it would be to go to the playoffs. He had been there, thought it was the most exciting baseball he had ever experienced and wanted to share that experience with his teammates.
Wade then said a very cool thing. He said it wouldn’t just be the players who went to the playoffs. The reporters, the front-office guys, the beer vendors, the fans — everyone associated with the team would go to the playoffs. The whole city would go to the playoffs. And now we all are going to game seven of the World Series.
Now here’s a look at how the Royals won game six.
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First inning: Royals starter Yordano Ventura bounced several of his warmup pitches. When a hitter sees a pitcher bouncing warmup pitches, he should take until he has a strike. The Giants did. Every hitter who came to the plate took at least one called strike before swinging the bat. It still didn’t help. With the help of Lorenzo Cain running down a Joe Panik line drive, Ventura went 1-2-3.
Giants starter Jake Peavy also was missing his spots in warmups, and the first two Royals batters took called strikes. Lorenzo Cain swung at the first pitch, didn’t put the ball in play and eventually walked.
In his first Series start, Peavy struggled when he had runners on base. He did again in game six. Peavy seemed to slow down and hold the ball in the set position to freeze the runner. But doing so seemed to upset his rhythm. Peavy bounced the first pitch to Eric Hosmer, and the Royals first baseman eventually singled to left.
Travis Ishikawa, the Giants’ left fielder, is actually a first baseman and has had issues playing the outfield. In this case, Ishikawa fell down as Cain was going first to third. Ishikawa seemed to concede a run when he threw the ball back to second base, but by then Cain had already shut it down and stopped at third.
Billy Butler then hooked a slider on the outside part of the plate, grounded out to end the inning and it seemed as though the Royals had blown a chance to score first.
Second inning: It sounded like he broke his bat, but Hunter Pence still doubled down the right-field line. On Monday, I asked Doug Henry, the Royals’ bullpen coach, how a pitcher gets Pence out. Doug said you move the ball around the strike zone, and when he whacks it, you hope he hits it at somebody.
Alex Gordon led off the bottom of the second with a single, and that was just the start. Salvador Perez singled, Mike Moustakas doubled, Omar Infante struck out, Alcides Escobar had an infield single and Nori Aoki singled to left before Peavy was pulled from the game.
Once again, Peavy struggled when he had runners on base. Yusmeiro Petit replaced Peavy, but the Royals just kept hitting.
Lorenzo Cain singled. Eric Hosmer singled and doubled. That one takes some explaining. It appeared Eric had called time, and the home-plate umpire granted it late. The pitch was thrown, Hosmer swung and singled up the middle, but it didn’t count. Hosmer had to stay at the plate and keep swinging the bat and wound up hitting a 1-2 fastball for a double. Anytime you go 2 for 1, ya gotta think it’s your night.
Butler followed Hosmer’s double with one of his own, and this time Billy hit the ball to the opposite field. Pitchers want Billy to pull the ball on the ground. When he goes to the opposite field, good things tend to happen.
Third inning: The Royals had eight hits and scored seven runs in the bottom of the second, and that takes awhile. Ventura had a long wait before getting back on the mound, and when he came back out, he struggled to throw strikes and walked the bases loaded. Then the Royals got lucky when the Giants’ Buster Posey swung at the first pitch he saw and hit into an inning-ending double play.
When a pitcher has a seven-run lead, he has to throw strikes. Make the other team hit their way back in the game. Don’t help them with walks. Until someone figures out how to hit a seven-run home run, pitchers need to be aggressive. After the top of the third, Ventura never was in any kind of serious trouble.
In the Royals’ half of the inning, Infante hit an 81-mph curveball into the left-field corner for a double. The Giants’ pitchers faced a dilemma. If they threw off-speed or pitches in to right-handed hitters, they were counting on Ishikawa to make the play. Infante eventually scored, and that tack-on run — plus Posey’s inning-ending double play — had to be huge psychological blows to the Giants.
Fourth inning: Ventura continued to pitch well, and the deeper he went in the game, the more rested the Royals’ bullpen would be for game seven.
In his third at-bat, Perez came up with an infield single, and the stadium was rocking. Some critics said the Royals looked lifeless in game five on Sunday night, but that was mainly because of Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ starter. When a pitcher is dealing, you are going to look lifeless. When a pitcher is scuffling, you will look like world beaters.
Fifth inning: Infante singled and scored when Escobar doubled to — you guessed it — Ishikawa in left. This time, Ishikawa stumbled on the warning track. Mike Jirschele, the Royals’ third-base coach, was being cautious. There were no outs. But Infante blew through Jirschele’s stop sign and went around him to score.
Sixth inning: Ventura was in control, and his performance — plus the nine runs that the Royals put on the scoreboard — meant it was unlikely that relievers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis or Greg Holland would be used. Giving those guys another day off will have an impact on game seven.
Seventh inning: Mike Moustakas, the guy who in late May was sent down to the minors, the guy whom many Royals fans wanted to see out of the lineup earlier this season, hit a curveball 396 feet, his fifth home run of the postseason —a new Royals record.
Eighth inning: Jason Frasor came into pitch the eighth. On Monday, manager Ned Yost said that you don’t manage game six with game seven in mind. You do whatever you have to do to win. But a 10-run lead might change that. You want to step on the Giants’ necks, but how much good pitching do you want to use in a 10-0 game?
Frasor gave up a couple hits but no runs.
Ninth inning: Even in a 10-0 game, stuff matters. The more relievers the Giants could force the Royals to use, the better their chances would be of winning game seven. But Frasor and Tim Collins did the job. Both threw shutout innings, the bullpen was not overused, and the Royals stayed in good shape for the final game of the World Series.
Final score: Kansas City 10, San Francisco 0.
We got our money’s worth: No whining
No matter what happens in game seven, Royals fans have seen something special this season. I hope we all can appreciate that. If you are a Royals fan — and why would you be reading this is you weren’t? — your team played well enough to make it to the seventh game of the World Series.
So whatever happens Wednesday night, I think we got our money’s worth.