By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are in the World Series because of their bullpens.
In Game 2 on Wednesday one of those units delivered, the other did not and now the best-of-seven set will head to the Bay Area tied at a game apiece.
Kansas City’s bullpen was once again phenomenal, while San Francisco’s relief corps imploded, as the Royals scored five times in a wild sixth inning en route to a 7-2 win.
Ladies and gentlemen … we have a series.
The Royals’ historic triumvirate of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland came into this matchup having pitched to a 0.61 ERA this postseason. It was more of the same in Game 2 for the group some are saying might be the best of all-time.
They certainly looked the part on Wednesday, tossing 3 2/3 more masterful innings, recording six of the 11 outs via strikeout.
With the score tied at 2-2, Herrera came on in relief of young Yordano Ventura with one out and two on in the sixth. He quickly got out of the jam and had to work out of another one in the seventh, as he walked a pair of batters. But Davis struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth and Holland closed it out by striking out three in the ninth.
As good as Kansas City’s bullpen was, San Francisco’s was just as bad, particularly flamethrower Hunter Strickland, who served up a postseason record-tying fifth home run. He then embarrassed himself even further by yelling at Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who had scored on Omar Infante’s two-run homer.
San Francisco tied a World Series record by using five pitchers in the sixth.
Statistically, the Giants’ pen entered the Series with better numbers than the Royals’ group. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, though, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d argue they were the better unit.
Maybe the bigger story was the fact that the Royals were able to find some offense after managing just five runs in their previous three games and looking absolutely lost against Madison Bumgarner in Game 1.
On Wednesday, though, they stuck to the script that got them here. They got timely hits, Lorenzo Cain was involved, they used their speed to their advantage, and, of course, hit a home run.
They even flashed a little leather.
It was the type of win we’ve become accustomed to this postseason from the Royals.
As much momentum as the Giants had after Bumgarner’s marvelous effort, you almost get the feeling that they might not win again until the next time he takes the hill.
By that time they could be facing elimination.
The bullpens played such a big role in Game 2 because neither starter was able to get out of the sixth inning.
Ventura gave up a leadoff home run to Gregor Blanco, but settled down until that sixth frame. He came into the series with questions surrounding his shoulder, but he hit 100 mph on the radar gun in the first inning.
Something worth noting going forward, the 23-year-old rookie has now thrown over 200 innings this season.
As for San Francisco starter Jake Peavy, well, he looked as if he wouldn’t last two innings, but the former NL Cy Young winner managed to gut his way through five-plus innings and was charged with four runs and six hits
Peavy’s numbers in eight postseason starts: 29 ER, 47 hits, 37 innings, 7.05 ERA.
You have to wonder if he gets another shot in this series.
GAME 2 WINNERS
This marks the 57th time that the Fall Classic has been knotted at one game apiece.
Of the previous 56 times it has happened, the winner of Game 2 has gone on to capture the Series on 29 occasions. However, that has been the case on just two of nine occasions since 1993, those being Anaheim in 2002 and the New York Yankees in 2009. The 1993 Phillies, 1997 Indians, 2003 Yankees, 2006 Tigers, 2008 Rays, 2011 Rangers and 2013 Cardinals all won Game 2 to square the Fall Classic but went on to lose the Series.
The team winning Game 3 in a 1-1 series, though, has gone on to win the title in four of the last five and 11 of the last 13 instances.
PANDA CONTINUES TO ADD TO POSTSEASON LEGACY
With his double in the fourth inning, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval has now reached base safely in a franchise-record 25 consecutive playoff games dating back to Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS.
The only players with longer postseason on-base streaks are Miguel Cabrera (31) and Chase Utley (27).