KANSAS CITY – The on-field performance was off the charts, but the seeds for the Royals’ Game 6 World Series victory were planted before anyone left the clubhouse.
There was no “win or go home” pregame talk, according to veteran designated hitter Billy Butler. No self-induced pressure added to a situation where the stakes required no explaining.
With elimination staring them in the face, it was the Royals who played loose and aggressive, taking it to the Giants in a 10-0 spanking Tuesday to force Game 7 in the 110th Fall Classic.
[RECAP: Peavy rocked, Royals force Game 7]
After being soundly beaten in Games 4 and 5 at AT&T Park, Kansas City returned to Kauffman Stadium and posted the most lopsided shutout in a World Series game since the 1985 Royals walloped St. Louis 11-0 in Game 7. It marks yet another momentum shift in this back-and-forth series.
“Their confidence was definitely high going into that game,” Butler said of the Giants. “So for our offense to do that early in the game was huge for us.”
He spoke of the seven-run second inning that blew open Game 6 and chased Giants starter Jake Peavy after just 1 1/3 innings. Talk about a change in fortunes – the Royals entered Tuesday having been held scoreless in their previous 15 innings and producing just nine base runners over that span.
It was an emsemble act in Game 6. Six different Royals notched two hits, six drove in at least one run and every starting position player except Butler scored a run.
This marks just the sixth World Series to go the distance out of the past 26, and there’s an obvious storyline that takes form as Wednesday’s Game 7 awaits: Does any momentum carry over for the Royals from their Game 6 blowout, or do both teams start from scratch as they play a winner-take-all contest?
“I don’t expect it in any way to have any type of (impact) for tomorrow,” Butler offered. “I think it’ll be a completely clean slate, just like we could have let two games in San Francisco carry over to here, but it didn’t.”
Some Game 7 historical nuggets to consider:
-- This is the 37th time in a best-of-seven World Series that a final game has been played. Remarkably, the home team has won 18 times and the visiting team has won 18 times.
-- Recent history has definitely favored the home team, which has won each of the past nine Game 7’s.
-- The last road team to win Game 7 of the World Series was the Willie Stargell-led Pittsburgh Pirates of 1979.
However, a road block (and perhaps maybe a mental block) confronts the Royals in the form of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. The lefty, who has held Kansas City to one run over 16 innings in this series, will be available in relief Wednesday. The only question is for how many innings, given he’ll be on just two days’ rest.
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Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will take the ball for the Royals, and veteran Tim Hudson will start for the Giants. But the Royals know full well they stand to get a third dose of MadBum.
“We’ll be prepared and ready to go,” Kansas City outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. “We’ve gotta worry about ourselves. We can’t worry about who’s pitching for them or whatever the case may be. We’ll be ready to go.
“It definitely helps the more you see a guy. At the end of the day, we gotta go up there and execute, and he has to locate his pitches.”
Kansas City’s first postseason experience since 1985 has lit a fire under this entire city. Local businesses are draping Royals banners across their buildings. City fountains are spouting blue water. It’s not lost on the players themselves how much is riding on a final, deciding game of this World Series.
“(Wednesday) means a lot to a lot of people,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “Not only in this clubhouse and upstairs, but to all the people who were with us in the minor leagues, people who helped us develop. Everyone that’s been with us every step of the way. It’s gonna be fun.”