KANSAS CITY – Jake Peavy stopped running and started pointing toward the plate, and a heap of inactivity. He implored Brandon Belt to throw home. The runner wasn’t going.
It was misinformed misdirection, it cost the Giants an out and it exemplified everything that happened, mostly in that 34-minute, seven-run second inning, but pretty much everything that followed, too, in a 10-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night.
The Royals didn’t just win Game 6 of the World Series to set up the sport’s ultimate sweepstakes showcase. They made a seasoned and confident opponent question its every instinct. And they blew off the hinges in an onrush of hits and power pitching from young Yordano Ventura.
Every Royals starting player had a hit by the third inning. By then, the game was no longer the object. It was about saving resources for Game 7.
Starting pitching report
Peavy faced 11 batters, recorded just five outs, needed some good luck and got a dash of pepper sauce in the eye instead.
The last time a pitcher had a shorter start in the World Series, and didn’t leave because of an injury, you ask? Well, it was so long ago (1984, and the Padres’ mark Thurmond in Game 5) that Bruce Bochy came off the bench to collect a pinch hit.
Peavy was pitching with a thumb injury that the Giants downplayed as a complete non-issue. There were plenty of other ones, though, beginning with pitches over the middle of the plate.
Peavy pulled an escape in the first inning, after Lorenzo Cain worked a two-out walk and Eric Hosmer singled to left field. Travis Ishikawa slipped as he fielded it, his cleats caught in chunks of turf and Royals third base coach Mike Jirschele tried to wave Cain home. The runner didn’t see the send, leaving runners at the corners for Billy Butler. This is where you’d expect the rope to slip, since Butler was 15 for 35 against Peavy. But he grounded out to shortstop.
The next time Peavy walked off the mound, he handed over the baseball. Alex Gordon started the second inning with a bloop single, then Salvador Perez hit a liner over the shortstop’s head. Mike Moustakas followed with a double that skipped fair over first base, and the Royals scored to break the Giants’ streak of 15 consecutive runs over the previous two games.
Peavy did not back up the plate, as he should have, because he was arguing with the first base umpire. His focus apparently was broken. There would be more evidence of that.
Peavy struck out Omar Infante and induced weak contact from Alcides Escobar, who hit a dribbler to the first base side of the mound. Belt fielded it and Peavy, instead of running to cover first base, stopped, yelled and pointed home even though Perez wasn’t running. Belt cocked but didn’t throw home, and by the time he circled back around toward first base, Ecsobar had him easily beaten to the bag. Second baseman Joe Panik had the cover in time, but Belt didn’t turn to look in time.
Escobar was awarded a hit, the bases were loaded and Peavy couldn’t put away Norichika Aoki. The No. 2 batter fouled off three two-strike pitches before Buster Posey came out of his crouch while calling for a high fastball. Even if Posey gave it away, Peavy didn’t execute the pitch. It wasn’t high enough and Aoki slapped it past third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s left side.
A run scored and Peavy turned over a bases-loaded situation for Yusmeiro Petit.
Petit had never entered a bases-loaded situation in the major leagues. His inexperience showed.
Cain blooped another two-run single that only he could’ve caught, then the Royals exploited the Giants’ aggressiveness when they played the infield in, hoping to stanch the inning at four runs. Hosmer hit a chopper off the hard dirt in front of the plate, and shortstop Brandon Crawford, because of his positioning, had no chance to catch the bounce as it sailed over his head. Hosmer kept on running and ended up with a two-run double on a ball that hit in front of the plate.
Billy Butler followed with a double that made it 7-0 and Petit recorded the next two outs to end a half-inning that took 34 minutes.
That was all the Giants asked of Petit, ensuring he’d be available if needed in Game 7. Bochy proceeded to empty the rest of his bullpen in reverse order of importance, first stretching Jean Machi for a career-high 51 pitches (his previous high was 38) over three innings, and then using Hunter Strickland and Ryan Vogelsong.
Strickland gave up a home run to Mike Moustakas, the sixth he’s allowed this postseason.
Vogelsong pitched a scoreless eighth, and a mop-up inning in a 10-0 game, while not an empty contribution by any stretch, hardly seemed like the right way to potentially end his tenure as a Giant. Vogelsong will be a free agent by week’s end.
At the plate
The Giants have seen enough of Yordano Ventura this year.
Hunter Pence hit a quirky double off the end of his bat and Michael Morse nearly hit a two-run homer in the second inning, but Aoki tracked down the fly out in the right field corner.
Ventura lost his bearings in the third inning when he issued consecutive walks to Crawford, Gregor Blanco and, in an 11-pitch plate appearance that included five two-strike fouls, Joe Panik. The Giants had a chance to make it a 7-4 deficit with one swing, but Posey gave them his third double-play grounder of the postseason instead of his first extra-base hit.
Posey swung at a first-pitch fastball, which might strike you as a poor notion after a pitcher had just walked the bases loaded. But Ventura was making quality pitches to Panik, and Posey hit .492 (30 for 61) with five home runs when swinging at the first pitch this season.
He got a fastball at the belt. The decision to swing wasn’t the issue. A slow bat was.
The Giants watered down their infield. The Royals made theirs hard as asphalt, and it most certainly impacted the score.
The Royals announced 40,372 paid. They’ll get Game 7 here, just as they did in 1985.
The Giants and Royals meet in Game 7 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday. Tim Hudson (0-1, 3.72 ERA) takes the mound against Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 2.70). First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. PDT.