Royals Force World Series Game 7
(CBS Sports) After 2,447 baseball games, it all comes down to one more.
In this season of unparalleled parity, it only makes sense. It is only fair.
So we go to a Game 7 of this World Series, so evenly played that it is downright odd.
After the Royals‘ 10-0 rout in Game 6 Tuesday night, the difference that separates these two excellent but flawed teams is as narrow as Royals Game 6 winner Yordano Ventura, the 23-year-old rookie who’s all arm.
Through six games, the Giants lead in runs 27-25 and hits 58-51, the Royals lead in total bases 76-75 and home runs 3-2. If it were a political race, they would be within the margin of error (incidentally, the Giants have one more of those, too, 3-2).
The Giants will try to make the claim for a dynasty Wednesday night in Game 7 when they have a chance to win their third World Series title in five years. The Royals will endeavor to make this great baseball town go even more bonkers than it already is with their first Series title in 29 years.
History doesn’t mean much now, so it isn’t easy to pick a winner.
The Giants have the experience edge, especially in their Game 7 starter, as Tim Hudson, who’s pressing 40, will take the mound and try not to repeat what good buddy Jake Peavydid in Game 6, when he lasted just one out into the Royals’ seven-run second inning. The Royals have youthful exuberance, though their Game 7 starter Jeremy Guthrie is only young compared to Hudson.
Hudson will try to show he has a strong stomach, if not quite the “brass balls” he suggested Giants ace Madison Bumgarner possesses. Guthrie will try to live up to his twitter name, @TheRealJGuts.
The two veteran pitchers have at least three more things in common. 1) They are both on the wrong side of 35. 2) They both have Bay Area roots, as Hudson started with the A’s and Guthrie starred with the Stanford Cardinal. 3) They are also two of the best interviews in the game, though only Guthrie spoke pregame Tuesday since the Giants were praying this wouldn’t be necessary.
The Giants have the history of their great organization on their side. The Royals have the recent history of the World Series, where eight of the last 10 teams to return home down 3-2 in games have gone on to win the Series. By those standards, KC is halfway home.
It’s only right this series is going seven.
Bumgarner has been brilliant (and he’ll likely be able to go an inning, or two, or three) which is a big advantage, since his lifetime World Series ERA is three times better than Sandy Koufax’s (0.29 to 0.95).
The Royals’ vaunted HDH relief trio has had itself a wondrous postseason, and it won a full day’s rest in Game 6, thanks to the early blowout.
The teams have pitched about as well as each other. They’ve hit about as well. And they’ve both fielded exceptionally well.
The offenses have consisted of mostly bloopers and bleeders, with a few gappers thrown in. The defense? Ah well, that has been magnificent.
Eric Hosmer, Brandon Belt, Salvador Perez, Brandon Crawford, Alex Gordon, Pablo Sandoval, Alcides Escobar, Joe Panik and Gregor Blanco have all made beautiful plays. AndLorenzo Cain has been nothing short of magnificent. He hasn’t made a catch to rival the famous World Series outfield catches of Willie Mays and Sandy Amoros, but he has made play after play after play. And he has made a name for himself as perhaps the best outfielder in the game, and certainly the best never to win a Gold Glove award.
If Cain has been the best Royal, Hunter Pence, the awkward achiever who inspired the signs, has been the best of the Giants. He has 10 hits in this Series and now carries a lifetime World Series average of nearly .400. He also embodies these two teams: He doesn’t always look fabulous, but he gets the job done.
There wasn’t a single 100-game winner in baseball this regular year, or even a 100-game loser. Counting the postseason, the Royals did become the game’s first 100-game winner. If the Giants win Game 7, they, too, will have 100.
It’s only fitting we’re going 7.
The Giants were better in beautiful AT&T Park, with its unmatched energy and soft-as-tissue infield. The Royals have been better at gorgeous Kauffman Stadium, with hope bursting out of the fans who have waited 29 years for an encore.
Though Giants people acted like they didn’t know what was up, Royals players were turned into mudders on a track that looked just short of “muddy.” Back at home, the Royals seemed much more at home, where Eric Hosmer bounced a two-run double over drawn-in shortstop Brandon Crawford in the middle of the seven-run inning that closed Saturday’s case early.
The two teams are a tossup. The Royals won one more in the regular season, then lost two fewer on the playoff road to this World Series. But that’s over 178 games (Giants) and 176 (Royals), respectively.
Both teams have all hands on deck, meaning the managers are liable to call upon any possible pitcher, with the probable exceptions being the Royals’ Ventura, the rookie who went seven shutout innings and won Game 6, and the Giants’ Hunter Strickland, who blew up in Game 2.
Ventura made it through six innings in Game 6 despite a shaky three-batter interlude in which he walked everyone leading up to Giants star Buster Posey, who promptly helped him by grounding into an inning-ending double play. Strickland, who initiated a benches-clearing argument no one quite understood in Game 2 here, appeared in Game 6, too (allowing his sixth homer of the postseason), which must tell you manager Bruce Bochy understood it was a lost cause.
The World Series had that one big blowup and lots of blowouts. But there still isn’t a clear leader.
Both teams have viable pitching, solid hitting and excellent defense but only occasional power.
Either team can easily win Game 7.