Last night, the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals played what was the most exciting game of the World Series so far to even things up at two games apiece.
For me, the most interesting part of the game was learning that Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica writer/producer Ronald D. Moore is a baseball fan. He was keeping score throughout the game and posting pictures of his scorecard to his Twitter feed.
Kansas City still holds the home field advantage in what is now a best-of-three series, but San Francisco would seem to hold the edge in tonight’s rematch of Game 1 aces, Madison Bumgarner vs. James Shields.
Whatever the final score is tonight, baseball fans are the winners – we’re getting to watch a great series that will keep the 2014 season going until at least Tuesday night.
The Kansas City Royals look a lot better when they’re hitting against Jake Peavy than they do against Madison Bumgarner. (Then again, I bet you could say that about most teams.)
When Gregor Blanco led off Wednesday night’s game with a home run off of Royals rookie phenom Yordano Ventura, I started to have visions of the Giants sweeping the series. Blanco just isn’t supposed to hit home runs, especially off a guy who’s been clocked at 100 mph.
Unlike Tuesday night, Kansas City didn’t wait until the seventh inning to put some runs on the board. They answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the first and took their first lead of the series in the second inning. But give Peavy credit – he limited the damage in those two innings and retired 10 consecutive Giants heading into the sixth inning.
That’s when the Royals broke the game open, forcing Bruce Bochy to tie a World Series record by using five different pitchers to record three outs. (We also learned that Hunter Strickland is a hot head and shouldn’t be used except in mop-up situations.)
The Giants had their chances, but couldn’t cash in. Ventura allowed eight hits in 5 1/3 innings, but the Giants stranded five of their baserunners and saw another erased via a bad baserunning play.
And once Ventura was out, the Giants could do nothing against Kansas City’s vaunted bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.
I still think that forcing a split on the road gives the Giants an advantage as they head home for Game 3 on Friday, but the Royals are in a much better spot than they would have been down 0-2. I hope this weekend’s games are as exciting as Game 2.
James Shields was completely ineffective, yielding five runs on seven hits in three plus innings. Waiting 10 days between games probably didn’t help Shields, but he has rarely looked like an ace come playoff time.
When the Giants scored three runs in the top of the first inning, that sucked a lot of energy out of the crowd. Even though the Royals have been masters of late-inning magic this month, it seemed like a longshot that they’d be able to best Madison Bumgarner after giving him a lead.
The Royals had their chances. Nori Aoki and Eric Hosmer managed some hard-hit outs in the bottom of the first. And in the third, Kansas City put runners on second and third with no one out. Unlike “Big Game James,” Bumgarner was able to shut down his opponent.
The Royals didn’t score until the seventh inning when Salvador Perez hit a two-out solo home run. By that point, Shields and Danny Duffy had combined to allow the Giants to score seven runs.
Maybe it was a moral victory – it was the first run Bumgarner had allowed in a World Series game, snapping a streak of 21 scoreless innings. Only Hall of Famer Christie Mathewson had a longer World Series scoreless streak at the start of his career. It was also the first run Bumgarner allowed in a major league record 32 2/3 playoff road innings.
Maybe the close, competitive series that most of us were expecting will materialize later tonight. On Tuesday, the Royals looked overmatched.
I’d almost forgotten that baseball’s playoffs aren’t over yet. Tonight, the Wild Card World Series finally gets underway and we can find out if the Kansas City Royals will claim their first trophy in 29 years or if the San Francisco Giants will get their third in the last five.
The Giants fan who caught Travis Ishikawa‘s home run that sent San Francisco to the World Series for the third time in five years decided to return the ball in exchange for an autographed bat and a chance to meet Ishikawa. The team also invited Frank Burke to Game Three of the World Series, the first that will be played in San Francisco. (CBS SF Bay Area)
“I’m the lucky guy that happened to be in the right place and catch the ball … so If anybody deserves to have that ball in the trophy case is the man who hit it and put us in the World Series for the third time in five years,” Burke told the Associated Press.
I have no idea whether Burke made a smart move or not because I couldn’t guess how much the baseball might have been worth if he had put it up for sale. If we’re talking about a $10,000-$15,000 item, I think Burke made a good choice to focus on making more priceless memories instead of figuring out how to spend the few grand he’d get after auction fees and taxes.
But if the baseball would be valued in the high five figure or low six figure range, Burke would have been smarter to sell.
For better or worse, I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about making that kind of decision about a home run ball.