KANSAS CITY — Now we’ve got a Series. The Royals bounced back from their first loss of the postseason with a 7-2 victory over the Giants in Game 2 at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night, knotting up the series at a game apiece as the teams head for San Francisco.
Billy Butler‘s RBI single broke a 2-2 tie and ignited the outburst. Salvador Perez then pounded a two-run double and Omar Infante followed with a two-run homer off Giants reliever Hunter Strickland — the fifth home run he’s allowed this October — in the breakout inning as a crowd of 40,446 roared on a delightful 67-degree evening.
|Date||Air time||First pitch||Matchup||Network|
|Gm 1||Oct. 21||SF 7, KC 1|
|Gm 2||Oct. 22||KC 7, SF 2|
|Gm 3||Oct. 24||7:30 ET||8:07 ET||KC vs. SF||FOX|
|Gm 4||Oct. 25||7:30 ET||8:07 ET||KC vs. SF||FOX|
|Gm 5||Oct. 26||7:30 ET||8:07 ET||KC vs. SF||FOX|
|Gm 6*||Oct. 28||7 ET||8:07 ET||SF vs. KC||FOX|
|Gm 7*||Oct. 29||7:30 ET||8:07 ET||SF vs. KC||FOX|
“I knew [Giants reliever Jean] Machi has a good sinker, he’s got a good split,” Buter said. “I knew when I got 2-0 that first and second, nobody out, last thing he wants to do is put another guy on there to load the bases up with nobody out. So I knew he was going to attack me with a fastball. I was just looking for it up in the zone, and got a good pitch to hit. I knew he was trying to — he had to come right after me.”
“Well, he is such a force in our lineup, and he has been for years,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said of Butler. “He’s a guy that is tremendously intelligent when it comes to hitting. He knows the opposing pitchers as well as anybody, and he’s got a great eye at the plate. Anytime Billy gets up in those situations, I feel great. I feel like he’s going to get the job done, and, again, he did it. He came up big for us twice tonight.”
Tempers flared between Strickland and the Royals as Perez and Infante crossed the plate. The right-hander exchanged words with Perez and Royals players started streaming out of the dugout and bullpen. But peace prevailed with only words and dirty looks exchanged.
“I really can’t tell you anything, because I don’t know what happened,” Yost said. “I was watching Omar’s home run hit, and was high‑fiving with the guys and turned around, and Salvy was standing at the plate. And I don’t really know what happened, to be honest with you.
“I’m managing the game. I’m trying to calm them down. That’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to get them calmed down, back in the dugout and get them refocused. I’m not really trying to interrogate anybody to ask exactly what happened.”
Game 2 began inauspiciously for Ventura when Gregor Blanco drove a 3-2 pitch into the right-field bullpen for a 1-0 lead. But the Royals rebounded to take a 2-1 lead against veteran Jake Peavy before the Giants tied it in the fourth.
“I think Blanco fouled off a couple of really good pitches and then centered one up,” Yost said of the homer. “That was one of those things where as a manager, that doesn’t really bother you. Just hold the fort from that point on, get your rhythm going, get yourself established, and then from the second inning roll. And that’s exactly what he did.”
After Herrera worked a 1 2/3 scoreless innings — featuring several 100-plus mph fastballs — Wade Davis pitched a perfect eighth and Greg Holland eased past a ninth-inning single and struck out the side to seal the victory.
“When you get in that situation, and you’ve got an off‑day [Thursday] you’re not giving them any opportunity to get back in that game,” Yost said. “At least I’m not.”
The Fall Classic takes Thursday off with Game 3 scheduled on Friday at AT&T Park. FOX’s pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. CT, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. CT.
“I felt like definitely it was a must win for us,” Butler said. “Granted, going down 0-2 we see what happened with us in the Baltimore series. The home team carries a lot of momentum back to their home ballpark with their fans. Their fans are going to be excited, even though it’s 1-1.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ventura done, Dyson in: With one out in the sixth inning of a tied game, Royals manager Ned Yost brought his late-game contingent into the fold.
Ventura was taken out after throwing 87 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, prompting the first member of Yost’s Big Three — Herrera — to come out of the bullpen. And to start the inning, Yost made the defensive change he usually reserves for instances when his club has a lead in the last three innings, putting the speedy Jarrod Dyson in center, moving Cain to right and taking Nori Aoki out of the game.
Ventura gave up eight hits, but didn’t walk a batter and yielded only two runs in his first postseason start as Herrera closed out the sixth. Herrera, Davis and Holland weren’t used in Game 1, and an off-day follows Thursday, so they may each be capable of pitching more than one inning.
Peavy on point: Somehow, some way, Peavy managed to take the Giants into the middle innings.
Though the Royals continued to hit plenty of balls hard off him, Peavy retired 10 in a row after giving up two runs on five hits over his first 1 2/3 innings. That allowed him to cruise into the sixth, after it looked early on like Tim Lincecum or Yusmeiro Petit might receive some heavy work out of the bullpen.
Coming into the night, Peavy had never completed six innings in any of his seven career postseason starts with the Padres, Red Sox and Giants.
Panda extends on-base streak, scores tying run: Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval reached base for the 25th consecutive postseason game, tied for the third-longest streak in history, then tied up Game 2 for the second time in the first 3 1/2 innings.
Sandoval led off the top of the fourth inning with a double after his liner to deep center field bounced off Cain’s glove just before he crashed into the wall. Two batters later, Brandon Belt doubled to right field off Ventura to tie it at 2.
With his 25-game streak, Sandoval is tied with former Orioles slugger Boog Powell. Only Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (31) and Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (27) have longer postseason on-base streaks.
The Giants could’ve retaken the lead later that inning, if not for Belt getting doubled up shortly after driving in a run. Belt went halfway on a flyout to right field, then thought about taking third after Aoki’s airmailed throw went offline. Belt was then thrown out diving back to second by Ventura, who was backing up the play.
Glove save and a beauty: The Royals don’t only have speed on their roster, they know how to combat it.
When speedy Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco hit a grounder to the right side in the third inning of Game 2, first baseman Hosmer made a diving stop to his right, leapt to his feet, then slid in the other direction to tap the bag with his glove. He arrived there well in advance of Blanco, completing perhaps the best defensive play yet in the 2014 World Series.
Hosmer’s efforts helped Ventura take a lead into the fourth inning, despite Blanco’s leadoff homer in the first.
Royals get their first lead: Remember that big hit Alcides Escobar couldn’t get in the third inning of Game 1, with runners on second and third, none out and the Royals trailing by three?
Well, the leadoff-hitting shortstop made up for it in Game 2.
With two outs and Infante on second after a one-out double in the bottom of the second, Escobar lined a first-pitch fastball from Peavy down the right-field line, scoring Infante, giving the Royals their first lead of the Fall Classic and igniting a sold-out Kauffman Stadium crowd.
All tied up: Don’t count out the Royals just yet. A two-out rally in the bottom of the first inning gave Kansas City its second run of the World Series, tying Game 2 at 1.
After Escobar was thrown out stealing for the inning’s second out, Cain drilled a line-drive double just out of the reach of Giants first-baseman-turned-outfielder Travis Ishikawa in left field. Peavy walked the next batter before serving up Butler’s RBI single to left.
Peavy threw 20 pitches in the inning, retiring Alex Gordon on a flyout to strand two runners.
Giants score early once again: No Major League starter threw his fastball harder than Ventura this year. But even he can’t get away with relying exclusively on it, especially against a Giants team that feasts on velocity.
Ventura learned that lesson the hard way against the first batter he faced, Blanco, who hit the 10th leadoff home run in World Series history. Blanco was able to get around on a 98-mph fastball from the Royals’ 23-year-old righty, made a lot easier considering it was the eighth consecutive four-seam fastball he saw from Ventura.
Ventura mixed in some changeups and curveballs after that and retired the next three batters, but he needed 20 pitches to get through the first, one night after James Shields yielded three runs in a 32-pitch first inning. That’s a bad sign for a Royals team that already burned its long reliever, Danny Duffy, on Tuesday, and for Ventura, who exited his Game 2 start in the American League Championship Series early with a tight right shoulder.
Blanco’s leadoff homer — his first home run of the postseason — was the first in the World Series since former Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon did it in Game 4 of the 2004 Fall Classic, if you count only the top of the first. No Giants player had done it.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.