I'll be honest: I'm rooting for the Royals. The first games I remember watching as a kid were the 1976 playoffs between the Yankees and Royals. Even then, although the Yankees had just returned from a 12-year postseason absence, I knew they were the Evil Empire of baseball. Then Chris Chambliss hit that home run and then Freddie Patek cried and then the Yankees beat them again in 1978. I even had a George Brett poster in my bedroom.
But, mostly, it's because the Royals have gone so long without winning. Their fans have suffered through not just mediocre baseball, but horrible baseball, for so long, for year after year after year until just recently. People my age remember when the Royals were once one of baseball's crown jewel franchises. It's great to see the fans in Kansas City able to root for a team so close to a title, a reminder of when they packed Royals Stadium in the '70s and '80s. The Giants won in 2010 and 2012, after their own title drought since moving to San Francisco, so they've gone through this. They're a fun team, a team that plays its best in October. But I'd like to see a Game 7. We've had only one in the past 11 World Series.
Quick thoughts before Game 6:
I wrote about the pitching matchup a bit here. The more I think about, I think Bruce Bochy needs only four innings out of Jake Peavy. He could easily go Peavy for four, Yusmeiro Petit for two or three and then match up with his bullpen the rest of the way. "Before the game, we talk about strategy, guys we would use early, maybe a guy to get out of an inning," Bochy said before the game. "Of course, Petit, he's available. He's our long guy. But also I would be comfortable with bringing him in at any point."
Bochy also said Madison Bumgarner asked to go down to the bullpen. "Right now he's available, and hopefully he's not needed. He's had one day off. So we'll try to get this done without him," Bochy said. But he also said it's all hands on deck. The luxury is that Bochy can use Petit for multiple innings in this game and then use Bumgarner in Game 7 if we get there, so it's probably unlikely Bumgarner is used in Game 6 unless it goes extra innings.
Talked with Royals fan and Grantland contributor Rany Jazayerli. He thought the key was Yordano Ventura and it's hard to disagree there. The key is for Ned Yost to not let the game get out of hand early, like it did in Game 6 last year with Michael Wacha, who gave up three runs in the third and then returned for the fourth and the Red Sox scored three more runs. "I don't think we allowed Ventura to go farther than he needed in Game 2. We took him out with the lead as soon as things started getting dicey," Yost said before the game. "Same thing's going to happen tonight. We'll go as far as we can, depending on score and depending on how he's throwing. I'm not saying he might not end up going six or seven innings. Who knows?
More than anything, I think the Royals need somebody to run into a pitch. Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas have now gone seven games without a home run, since Moustakas homered in Game 3 of the ALCS. That's 72 at-bats between them over those seven games. Of course, this is who the Royals are: a team without much power. It showed up early in the playoffs but has disappeared in this series (two home runs).
Now, some of that was due to AT&T Park. We just went three straight World Series games without a home run for the first time since 1948. We haven't gone four in a row since 1920. So here's thinking somebody gets one tonight.
With that lack of power in mind, the Royals have to get the running game going. They have just one steal in the series and two caught stealings. In his pregame media session, Yost was asked about the wet field in San Francisco and said getting back to a dry infield in Kansas City will help -- not only with the running game, he pointed out, but with shortstop Alcides Escobar, who had two those plays go by him in Game 4, in part because he stays down more on a wet infield. "So it's going to help us in that respect defensively, and it's going to help us because we've got a firmer infield, firmer basepaths with our baserunning."
Jonah Keri discusses Game 6 with Jayson Stark and Dave Cameron.
Jayson explains why history favors the Royals.
Curious to see how long Kelvin Herrera can go. He's looked a little shaky his past two outings. I'm thinking if Yost needs multiple innings from a reliever late in the game, Wade Davis is the better bet right now, even if Herrera is that guy he likes to use for more than three outs. He needs to also considering using Greg Holland for more than an inning, even if that hasn't happened all year. He has all winter to rest.
Salvador Perez has started every game behind the plate since Aug. 24. He's also hitting .221/.230/.329 with two walks and 31 strikeouts since the beginning of September. He is hitting .353 in the World Series, however. They might need a big hit from him tonight.
This is where I point out that Buster Posey still doesn't have an extra-base hit this postseason.
Here's another factor: The Giants have 18 walks in the series, the Royals just six. Peavy can have a tendency to nibble at times, so the Royals need to make him throw some strikes and not chase stuff off the plate. Like they so often do.
Tonight should be fun. I think we'll see a close game, low-scoring, Royals win 3-2 and get another game tomorrow.