Royals’ Bats Come Alive in 7-2 Victory; Tie the Series at 1


Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It took a while to get here, but the Kansas City Royals just collected their first win in the World Series in 29 years. Billy Butler came up with the game-winning RBI in the 6th inning, while a 2-run double from Salvador Perez and a 2-run dinger from Omar Infante put the game out of reach. Yordano Ventura did his part, scattering 8 hits over 5.1 innings of work, allowing 2 runs and striking out a pair.

Things didn’t get off to a particularly promising start, though. After falling into a full count against Gregor Blanco in the first at-bat of the game, Ventura left a fastball in the middle of the plate, and the former Royal pounded it over the right field wall. Ventura settled down quickly enough, retiring 8 of the next 9 batters.

Luckily for Ventura, his offense did something they couldn’t do against Madison Bumgarner in Game 1: take advantage of an early scoring opportunity. Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the 1st with a single, but was thrown out attempting to steal 2nd base. Shortly thereafter, Lorenzo Cain roped a double to center, and following a walk to Eric Hosmer, Butler came to the plate with 2 on and 2 out. In what could be his last home game as a Royal, Butler came through in a big way, singling to left field and bringing Cain in to score.

The Royals tacked on another run in the 2nd, thanks to doubles from Infante and Escobar, but that lead would only hold for a little over an inning, as Ventura ran into some trouble in the 4th, due to some shaky defense from his outfield. Pablo Sandoval crushed a ball to deep center, and Cain misjudged it just enough to not make the play. Brandon Belt then laced a ball toward the right field corner, and a misplay by Nori Aoki assured Sandoval would score easily.

With the score tied at 2, Jake Peavy settled in, and the Royals’ offense couldn’t seem to muster anything against him, despite the fact that the Giants’ starter was clearly not in possession of very good stuff. They went down in order in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

Then, the 6th inning happened.

The 6th is an inning that has been somewhat of a nightmare for the Royals for much of 2014, from the Aaron Crow Debacle against Boston, to the Wild Card game against Oakland. For whatever reason, that inning has been an eventful one lately, and tonight was no exception.

After Ventura allowed a pair of BABIP singles, Kelvin Herrera entered the game with 1 out, and proceeded to do what he’s done all year: make batters look silly. He induced a fly ball and a weak grounder to escape the jam.

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Cain led off the bottom of the frame with a single, and even though Peavy clearly was off, Bruce Bochy left him in to face the left-handed Hosmer. Hosmer drew another walk, which, once again, brought Butler to the plate.

It’s a moment we’ve seen so, so many times in Butler’s career, so it was only fitting for him to have yet another opportunity to make an impact. The Giants brought on Jean Machi, a ground ball specialist, to face the ground ball-hitting Butler. But Machi’s first two pitches missed the zone, and when he elevated a 2-0 fastball, Butler made him pay, driving a liner to left field. Cain got a great jump on the hit, but Travis Ishikawa‘s arm – or lack thereof – contributed to the Royals taking the lead.

Hunter Strickland entered the game for the Giants, having allowed 4 home runs already this postseason. Perez roped a double to the gap in left-center, and Infante then deposited a thigh-high heater into the bullpen, giving the Royals a 5-run lead.

Despite the lopsided score, there was a bit of excitement on the field as Perez and Infante rounded the bases. Strickland appeared to take umbrage at Perez taking his time toward home, where he wanted to wait and congratulate his teammate.

Some words were exchanged – words of anger from Strickland, confusion from Perez – and the benches began to clear, although that was the extent of the shenanigans. Strickland left the game, but the damage had been done.

Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland combined to throw 3.2 scoreless innings, while striking out 6, en route to the series-tying win.

The series will now head west for Games 3, 4, and 5, beginning Friday night at 7:07 Central time. Jeremy Guthrie will take the mound for Kansas City, while Tim Hudson does so for San Francisco.