One night after getting dominated 7-1 in Game 1, the Kansas City Royals returned the favor in Game 2, beating the San Francisco Giants, 7-2, to even the World Series at a game apiece.
Scott Ferrall, like many, thought the series was over after Game 1. The Royals had won eight straight games, they were flying high and it seemed like nothing could stop them. And then they got mowed down by Madison Bumgarner, who, at 25, is already one of the best postseason pitchers in major league history.
“Yeah, I was thinking, ‘Okay, what are the chances now of a sweep?’ Sportsnet.ca baseball writer Jeff Blair said on Ferrall on the Bench. “The only thing that kind of gave me pause to stop was that a lot of the Royals players had pretty good numbers against Jake Peavy, and I thought going into the series this was probably the best matchup for the Royals. But I’ve got to tell you: I don’t think anybody who’s watched the Giants this postseason expected the type of bullpen meltdown that we saw. That’s the most surprising thing. I’m not surprised they eventually got to Jake Peavy. I’m surprised that the Giants bullpen didn’t come in and lock the door.”
The Royals touched Peavy to the tune of four runs on six hits in five innings. The game was tied 2-2 through five innings, but Kansas City erupted for five runs in the sixth with an RBI single from Billy Butler, a two-RBI double by Salvador Perez and a two-run homer by Omar Infante to make it 7-2.
Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland took it from there. That trio allowed just one hit in 3.2 innings and combined for six strikeouts.
“The worst thing you can do when you’re playing the Kansas City Royals is give them a comfortable lead and essentially allow Ned Yost to have free rein to use his bullpen – and that’s precisely what happened (Wednesday). Again, I thought the matchup favored the Royals, but I’m really surprised at how they were able to really (get) into not just Jake Peavy but the other pitchers that came out as well.”
If you’re a Royals fan, it was good to see the offense come alive. Kansas City scored 38 runs in its first six postseason games but just five in its next three.
Of course, the Royals will face Bumgarner at least once more in this series – and maybe twice. What are they going to do?
“I’ll tell you what I’m doing,” Blair said. “If I’m Ned Yost, if I’m the Royals, I’m keeping it simple. I’m saying, ‘We’re going to go to the plate, we’re going to identify his fastball and we’re going to try to hit it. That’s all there is to it. If we can’t hit it, great, but we’re not going to sit there and try to work the count. We’re not going to sit there and try to put Madison Bumgarner into a position where he quote-unquote has to throw a strike. That’s not how you beat him. You beat guys like this, especially at this time of the year, by gripping and ripping. You go up, you look fastball, you swing.’”
But Bumgarner will have to wait. The Royals will face Tim Hudson in a pivotal Game 3 on Friday at 8:07 p.m. ET. Jeremy Guthrie will start for Kansas City.