Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Giants Got First

6:22 pt: I miss these guys.  ESPN radio is on my usual Giants station, and is all I can find.  Can't believe the team broadcasters aren't working the game somewhere.

Giants game plan is to get to the Royals starter early.  Mission accomplished in the first inning: Sandoval double, Pence two run homer.  Though Royals pitcher Shields has settled down some, the Giants are still hitting the ball hard.  Bumgarner also having his early-mid innings troubles, in a jam in the third but strikes out two and gets a grounder from the Royals best hitters.  After three, it's 3-0.
Hunter Pence. Photo SF Chron

6:32: Giants knock out starter Shields in the fourth with a run and two runners on, nobody out.  Duffy the reliever isn't sharp, walked in a run but the Giants didn't get the killer hit.  Middle of the fourth: Giants 5 Royals 0.

7:35: Bumgarner continues his record-setting postseason shutout innings on the road through six.  With his pitch count at 93, now the question is how much further does he go.  It's an American League park, so the DH means there's no pinch-hitting for the pitcher move.  Meanwhile Duffy has settled down but may be tiring in the seventh.

7:44:  Yup, he was.  Opened the 7th walking Blanco, then Joe Panik tripled.  Giants 6-0.  New pitcher is Collins.  Panik on third, no outs.  Posey scorches one, but right at the first baseman for the first out.  Sandoval singles in Panik: 7-0.  A wild pitch sends Sandoval to second.  Pence walks.  Belt strikes out.  Morris flies out to end the inning.  So it's Giants 7-0, with Bumgarner apparently coming out to pitch the bottom of the 7th.

8:03: Bumgarner's scoreless innings end with a homer by Salvador Perez, both the consecutive scoreless on the road, and his streak of scoreless innings in the World Series.  The 7th ends Giants 7 Royals 1.  Doubtless Bumgarner's last inning this game.

8:17: Javier Lopez comes on in the 8th.  The ESPN announcers were clearly emphasizing the Kansas City story at the beginning of the game, but now they're talking up the Giants.  A double play ends the inning.  Still Giants 7-1.

8:35: Here's a novel sight: Giants rookie fireballer Hunter Strickland is pitching the last of the ninth. Give him the experience, the thrill, and don't show the Royals the regular late innings relievers. Strickland gets the first out with a three pitch strikeout.  A roller to second for the second out.  A strikeout ends the game.  The Giants win the first game of the World Series 7-1.

This puts the stats on the Giants' side.  Teams that won the first won the Series 10 out of the last 11.  A first win on the road rattles the home field advantage.  Roughing up the Royals' ace, who's had postseason problems, seeds some doubt for another start, probably the fifth game.  The pressure is on KC to win tomorrow, just to make it a series.

The Giants hitters were on it, but the fielding was excellent also--consistent for first games (apart from one error.)  Bumgarner didn't get to hit but he fielded, robbing the Royals of at least two hits.

Pence finally came alive at the plate, very good sign.  Sandoval has had a quiet record breaker, hitting in consecutive postseason games.  But his RBIs are what's vital.  His first today was the impetus.

Announcers note that the Royals are a young streaky team, that this is their first postseason loss, and the question is how they will respond tomorrow.  Jake Peavy against Ventura.  Most observers give the advantage to Ventura, a young fireballer. I would have agreed, but tonight I don't think so.  If Ventura isn't right from the start he could get rattled, but Peavy--though an excitable guy--can weather a storm.  Peavy's been here, and judging by the first game, that may be important.  I'm saying advantage Peavy, but ultimately every game is nothing more than itself.

Still, the Royals apparently believe that if they have a lead or the game is close after five or six innings, their bullpen will shut the Giants down.  The Giants thrive on getting an early lead like today, but they've shown in the postseason that they can come back.  They eventually hit the Cards best relievers.  So whether the Royals really have a bullpen advantage has yet to be seen.

Since I'm apparently stuck with ESPN radio, I'll note that on their website, 4 of their 6 "experts" picked the Royals to win the Series.  One of them said in four games, so he's wrong already.

A nice perspective on the game and the Series from John Heyman.

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