World Series Update: Two Games in the Books
A Solid Start for Both Teams as the Series Heads to San Francisco
Written by: Roger SinClair
The first two games of the World Series, played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, have seen two extremes from the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. Each team has had an abysmal game and an explosive offensive game. The Giants took Game 1 with a 7-1 score line, with the Royals bouncing back last night with a 7-2 victory.
The burning question coming into this series was if the youthful and momentous Royals could match up against a San Francisco squad with years of postseason success. After Game 2 last night, Kansas City proved they are not just running off of momentum and are a legitimate squad, albeit slightly inexperienced. The Giants and Royals are facing a close series, as the series heads to San Francisco for the next 3 games.
The 2014 World Series got off to a rather lopsided start with a dominant win for San Francisco on Tuesday night. Hunter Pence hit a two-run homerun in the top of the 1st inning, and the Giants never looked back as they won the game 7-1. Pablo Sandoval had an impressive night with 3 hits and 2 RBIs and the team collectively had 11 hits.
James Shields must take some of the blame for this loss, going only 3 innings and giving up 5 earned runs. Shields hasn’t live up to his nickname “Big Game James” and has a surprising 7.11 ERA so far this postseason, with all of his starts going less than 5 innings. Regardless of how many games the World Series lasts, Shields is still considered the Royals most formidable starter. The 33 year-old is the only Kansas City pitcher who brought postseason experience into the playoffs, and the team is still looking for him to improve in his next appearance.
Kansas City’s offense couldn’t get anything together against Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a near flawless game. Bumgarner lasted 7 strong innings giving up 3 hits, with his only mistake being a homerun to Salvador Perez in the 7th inning. The Giants have relied heavily on Bumgarner this postseason, having him start 5 of their 12 games. He has been the ace of the postseason so far, going 7+ innings in all of his starts and having a 1.40 ERA. Kansas City’s poor performance couldn’t entirely be due to jitters and Madison Bumgarner had the Royals baffled all night.
The Royals’ outfield was also less than impressive Monday night, as Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Norichika Aoki went a combined 0-9 and had some spotty fielding. Aoki horribly misplayed a Joe Panik hit that eventually turned into an RBI triple for the rookie and would extend the Giants lead to 6-0. All three of Kansas City’s outfielders have had impressive seasons, especially Alex Gordon, and the complete lack of production from them in Game 1 was a big factor.
Headed into Game 2 many people were surprised by Kansas City manager Ned Yost’s decision to keep rookie Yordano Ventura as the Game 2 starter, despite his 4.85 ERA in the postseason. Jake Peavy, who had a career record of 1-5 at Kauffman Stadium, took the mound for San Francisco. This contest was very close going into the bottom of the 6th, with both starting pitchers performing well in a 2-2 ball game. Ventura finished the night after 5 innings, allowing 2 earned runs accompanied by 2 strikeouts, however he would not pick up the win.
The game changed substantially in the 6th inning, with a 5 run onslaught by the Royals busted the game wide open. Billy Butler started the scoring with an RBI single, and Salvador Perez and Omar Infante both had 2 RBIs in the inning to extend the Royals lead to 7-2.
Jake Peavy would be pulled with two Royals on base with no outs, and would finish the game with 4 total earned runs. In a rising of tensions, Infante’s homerun led to an exchanging of words between Salvador Perez and Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland. Strickland believed that Salvador Perez was taunting him while coming home and a screaming match ensued that brought some Kansas City players out of the dugout. Thankfully, the confrontation was stopped before tempers could flare up and no further issues happened throughout the game. Wade Davis and Greg Holland had dominant relief appearances for the Royals and quelled any hope of a Giants comeback.
The Giants were afflicted with the same problem that plagued them for parts of the regular season; they simply could not score enough runs. While the game was close entering the 6th inning, the Giants failed to capitalize off of the 8 hits that Yordano Ventura allowed in only 5 innings. While being at home for the next 3 games could give the Giants a morale boost, they still must be weary of leaving too many men in scoring position.
While the Royals should be thrilled with their victory last night, some of their biggest stars are not shining yet in this World Series. Norichika Aoki, Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon have yet to record a hit in the first two games, and Aoki and Lorenzo Cain yet again made fielding errors that led to runs for the Giants. The Royals have shown that they can respond to adversity and bounce back from a loss, even if that first loss follows an incredible 8-0 start to the playoffs.
Neither team seems to be the favorite at this point, and capitalizing on the other teams poor play is how Kansas City and San Francisco have picked up their wins. Going on the road doesn’t seem to have much of an affect on the Royals, who are 4-0 this postseason on the road. However it will be interesting to see how they react to not having DH Billy Butler in the lineup (due to play National League rules in San Francisco), especially considering the struggles some big name Royals have had thus far. The Giants continue to play like a team that has won two of the last four World Series, and having a 3 game home stint can’t hurt their chances. Judging by the first two games and the inconsistent playing of both teams, this series could easily be decided by a Game 7.