The lasting image of the Royals’ latest postseason win will be the string of eight hits in nine batters that staked them to an early seven-run lead. That, after all, broke a franchise record and kick-started a 10-0 World Series game-six victory Tuesday.
It supplied the Royals with a potentially significant edge in the deciding game seven, too.
The seven-run frame transformed the Royals’ three late-inning flame throwers — known more simply as HDH these days — into bullpen spectators.
A welcome view.
Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland — the trio that has made Kansas City so tough to catch late in games this postseason — weren’t needed in the blowout, in which starter Yordano Ventura threw seven shutout innings. And that should leave the three plenty fresh for a winner-take-all game seven Wednesday night.
“I’ll take a 10-0 lead tomorrow, too,” Holland said. “It’s always nice to get some rest and watch your guys go out there and swing the bats and to get a performance like Ventura gave us today. That’s always a good thing.”
The prevailing thought of this postseason is that to beat the Royals — which only the Giants have managed to do, of course — you have to get to them early.
It might be even earlier now.
Davis and Herrera will now have two days off since throwing 24 pitches each in a game-five loss Sunday — a night in which the late-inning specialists showed their first signs of weakness in the World Series. Davis and Herrera combined to allow three runs in the 5-0 loss. They had previously allowed only two in the entire postseason.
James Shields, who took the loss in game five, said after Tuesday's game that he would be ready to pitch in game seven if called upon.
Davis and Herrera have both been asked to provide multiinning appearances in the postseason. Given two days rest, it’s conceivable each could offer six outs Wednesday — as long as they come efficiently.
And HDH is nothing if not efficient.
“I’m ready for two-plus, three innings,” Herrera said. “I want to do everything that I can to help my team win tomorrow.”
Holland hasn’t thrown since recording a game-three save on Friday. He threw a simulated inning in the bullpen as Tim Collins closed out the victory in the top of the ninth inning.
“I wanted to throw today and get on the mound,” Holland said. “It was one of those situations where you don’t want to come in during a 10-run game to get work and (then) come in and face the same three or four batters in a one-run game the following day. I’d rather just throw off the mound.”