Programming note: For the most comprehensive World Series coverage, watch "SportsNet Central: October Quest" today at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and immediately after Game 3 on Comcast SportsNet Plus
SAN FRANCISCO – The Kansas City Royals did not hide their eagerness to run on Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa, especially in their Game 2 victory Wednesday night.
But Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t contemplating a change for Game 3. And although the club currently plans to have a different left fielder in Game 4 to face a left-hander, Jason Vargas, it isn’t the alternative you might imagine.
The current thought as of Wednesday’s workout was to start Juan Perez in Game 4 and not Michael Morse, who would remain a threat off the bench. Morse only played six or seven innings in left field during his trip to instructional league with prospects in Arizona at the beginning of the month, and while he said he’s ready to pick up an outfielder’s glove again, it’s not a risk the Giants are willing to take.
In the meantime, they’ll live and die with Ishikawa’s defense in Game 3, even though at times he looks like a first baseman who’s only played a handful of games out there.
“I’m hard on myself, more than people see,” Ishikawa said. “But I feel I’m making the plays I’m supposed to be making.”
Ishikawa made one mistake in the first inning of Game 2 when he collected Billy Butler’s single and threw to the plate even though he had no chance to get Lorenzo Cain. Eric Hosmer, who was going from first to third, was a much more inviting two-out target. Luckily for the Giants, Jake Peavy got the third out on his next pitch. But Ishikawa still understood his mistake, and talked to outfield coach Roberto Kelly in between innings.
Cain ran on Ishikawa again when Butler hit a tiebreaking single in the sixth inning of the Royals’ 7-2 victory. Bochy acknowledged they did not expect proficiency from Ishikawa when it came to finer points like the footwork involved in gathering a ground ball and throwing home.
“I don’t know the exact mechanics of it,” Ishikawa said. “Maybe Roberto didn’t want to overwhelm me with too much. But he stressed coming hard as you can until you get to the ball, and don’t go full steam all the way. You have to be under control when the ball gets to you.
“I saw Cain just coming around third and thought I had a shot at him. Obviously, I thought it’d be a little closer than he made it.”
In addition to losing Butler, their designated hitter, in Games 3-5 at AT&T Park, Royals manager Ned Yost was contemplating starting Jarrod Dyson in the outfield for Game 3 instead of Norichika Aoki, who misplayed two balls in right field in the first two games at Kauffman Stadium. It’s no secret that AT&T Park is one of the toughest right fields in baseball, although Bochy said its rigors might be overblown.
Or, rather, underblown in terms of wind. “It’s not Candlestick,” he said.
Yost was placing a priority on outfield defense because his Game 3 and 4 starters both have fly-ball tendencies.
Hey Jeremy Affeldt, are you superstitious?
Would you like to know, then, where your 19 consecutive scoreless playoff appearances ranks in major league history?
“Probably not, because I try to be a selfless player. I try to focus on team success.”
All right if I tell you one fact about it?
“I think you’re going to tell me anyway.”
Here’s the fact: the only pitcher in major league history with a longer streak of consecutive scoreless postseason appearances is Mariano Rivera, with 23.
“Well, Mariano, he’s a pretty awesome guy,” Affeldt said.
Then the left-hander offered a good, team-success explanation for his run.
“A successful streak like that happens for a reason,” Affeldt said. “It’s hard to do without guys playing some pretty amazing defense and having some pretty good (relievers) come and bail me out. I mean, in the playoffs, the whole deal is that Bochy might bring you in for a batter or two. He mixes and matches. If you give up a hit, you might be out of there and then it’s up to the next guy. Mariano, he was the end. There wasn’t a lot of backup. He was the last guy standing. So that’s a pretty awesome deal, on his part.”
Yost, asked his reaction to left fielder Alex Gordon, shortstop Alcides Escobar, catcher Salvador Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmer all being named finalists for AL Gold Glove awards:
“Yeah. I was a little surprised Lorenzo Cain wasn’t nominated, but that’s just me.”
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval was the Giants’ only finalist, named along with the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado and the Dodgers’ Juan Uribe. Winners will be announced later in the offseason.
When Omar Infante homered off Hunter Strickland in Game 2, it snapped his streak of 144 career postseason at-bats without going deep. Only Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay had more playoff at-bats without a homer.
Infante’s shot also brought a bit of retribution. In case you’ve forgotten, Infante was on the 2012 Detroit Tigers club that got swept by the Giants in the World Series – and adding injury to insult, he broke his hand in the ninth inning of Game 4 when Santiago Casilla hit him with a pitch.
You might have heard that the Giants plucked Strickland off waivers from Pittsburgh last year when the Pirates added left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to the roster. Well, the Six Degrees of Jonny has another connection in this World Series.
The Royals acquired Game 3 starter Jeremy Guthrie from the Colorado Rockies for Sanchez, in a swap of two disappointing starters. One of the two benefited from the change of scenery.
Yost recalled the details behind the July, 2012 deal:
“Well, when we made that deal we had Jonathan Sanchez, and was really struggling at that time. (GM Dayton Moore) got a text one night, `Hey, would you be interested in swapping struggling starters?’ Because Jeremy was really struggling in Colorado at that time. We looked at each other, `Man, let's give it a shot, right?’
We got Guthrie and his first start, I don't think he won, but I was really, really impressed with the way that he commanded the ball down. At that point on our staff we didn't have anybody that could do that. We had a bunch of young starters and guys that were probably fourth or fifth starters. We didn't have anybody that could consistently command the ball down and change speeds like he did. And I thought, man, this guy's got a chance to do something. … (Pitching coach Dave Eiland) made a couple little tweaks and all of a sudden he got on a roll and pitched extremely well for us.”
Joe Panik had two hits in the two World Series games at Kauffman Stadium. One of them came on a pretty good 0-2 curveball from a left-hander, Danny Duffy. The other one came on a 1-2, 98 mph fastball from right-hander Yordano Ventura.
Those are the signs that give Panik confidence even though he’s hitting .236 this postseason.
“When I’m out there on the field, I’m feeling good,” said the rookie second baseman, who was tired when he played in the Arizona Fall League at this time three years ago. “It feels like you’re walking on air out there. It’s after the game when I feel like I got hit with a bag of rocks.”
Game 3 starter Tim Hudson had the interview room laughing when he was asked how the Giants picked themselves up amid losing streaks in June and July.
“Well, we have a mascot on our team named Hunter Pence,” Hudson said. “I mean, that guy he's full of energy, man. I tell you what, he brings some excitement and some fire to your team that money just can't buy.”
What does he do?
“I mean, y'all have seen it,” Hudson said. “He has all these cheerleading chants. I don't know how much coffee he drinks every day, but it's more than y'all, I can tell you that.”
Pence said he enjoyed the “Hunter Pence thinks he’s in Kansas” sign that greeted him at Kauffman Stadium.
“Well, we were in Kansas … City,” Pence said, smiling.
Pence’s other favorite signs so far include, “Hunter Pence says `I love you’ on the first date” and “Hunter Pence takes the hamburger in the hot dog race.”