The barking and staring was coming from the pitcher’s mound, a flurry of words directed toward the area just behind home plate. Giants reliever Hunter Strickland was stepping forward and shouting into the night. Royals catcher Salvador Perez was shrugging his shoulders and pointing two fingers to his eyes, a look of puzzlement across his face.
It was the sixth inning on Wednesday night, and Kauffman Stadium had descended into a deafening blur of white noise. Second baseman Omar Infante had just crushed a two-run homer off Strickland, scoring Perez and capping a five-run surge in a 7-2 victory in game two of the World Series.
In a matter of moments, the series became real, the Royals punching back after a game one loss on Tuesday night. As Perez finished off a rather slow trot toward home plate, the shouting began, a momentary brouhaha that brought Kauffman Stadium to life.
“Get in the dugout!” Strickland appeared to yell, looking toward Perez.
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As the tension escalated, confusion reigned on the field. Relievers Danny Duffy, Greg Holland and Jason Frasor sprinted in from the Royals bullpen. The benches were on alert. Nobody seemed to know why Strickland was so upset.
“I was surprised,” Infante said.
The confusion carried late into the night. By the time Perez arrived in the Royals’ clubhouse after the game, he was still baffled by Strickland’s reaction.
“After Omar hit the bomb, and I get close to home plate, he start to look at me,” Perez said. “So I asked him like, ‘Hey, why you look at me?’ So he was telling me, ‘Get out of here, whatever.’
“So I don’t know. You don’t have to treat me like that. Look at Omar. Omar hit the bomb. I didn’t hit the bomb. I hit a double.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy then emerged from the dugout to replace Strickland with left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt.
“He’s a really intense kid,” Bochy would say. “That’s probably an area he’s going to have to keep his poise. He shows his emotions. These are things we’ll talk to him about.”
Moments before Infante’s blast, Perez had doubled off Strickland, scoring two runs and pushing the Royals’ lead to 5-2. As Perez stood on second base, he exchanged glances with Strickland.
“When I get to second base, after I hit a double, I think I’m doing nothing wrong,” Perez said. “So I just look at my teammates. I’m just happy for my team. And he start to look at me at that point.”
For Strickland, a 26-year-old rookie, it was the fifth homer allowed in sixth appearances this postseason. One of those came against Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper, a bomb into McCovey Cove in San Francisco that elicited some verbiage from Harper. On Wednesday, Infante’s homer provider the tinder.
“I don’t know what it was,” Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. “We accepted our loss yesterday like a man. I don’t know if the dude was upset about the home run or Salvy walking. That’s just Salvy being Salvy.”
As he stood before his locker, Perez tried to insist there would be no carry-over from the incident. He could not make out the exact words from Strickland. He could only hear the shouting, muffled by a raucous Kauffman Stadium.
Across the way, in the Royals’ dugout, they couldn’t hear either.
“All I heard,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said, “was the ball leaving the yard.”