Wow, what a game! And to be fair, for Giants fans. Madison gave up his first run in a World Series game, so KC can at least boast of that, but pretty much it was all Giants the whole game, silencing the crowd almost from the get-go. As a fan who was in a similar situation of waiting so long for your team to make the World Series, only to see them fall flat (1989), I can empathize as well as sympathize.
Still, wouldn't change a thing about the game (show no mercy), the only real things in doubt after the top of the first were whether Bumgarner could get out of the first without giving up anything and how much would we win by, because Shields clearly didn't have it, and Yost had to leave him in longer, else he would burn his bullpen or his long man (he ended up burning his long man too, Duffy, so that was sweet too, as well as using two of his lefties in the bullpen, he used Collins too).
Message to Flan: Posey is Either Tired And/Or Slow, Please Don't Send Anymore
Third time Posey is thrown out at home (or is it more?) and when I was watching him run, frankly, he looked like he's in slow motion, not like when I saw Duffy score. StatCast did a segment on that run, and Posey could only get up to 18 MPH while I recall Duffy was a full 2 MPH faster. Once I can understand, maybe even twice, but by then Flan should know that Posey don't have that higher gear necessary to score from 1B. Maybe that odd bounce gave him the impetus to send Posey, but still, KC has great defense, Posey has slow legs, hold him and we got runners on 2B and 3B with only one out and Pence coming up: what's wrong with that?
Bumgarner Throws Royals Down the Stairs
Madison was not great from the get-go, but he manned up when he needed to, and once he got comfortable, pretty much coasted the rest of the way, except for that homerun, I think he retired 12 of his last 13 batters, as he was dealing both heat with 95 MPH fastballs and cool with a 67 MPH curveball that he has been experimenting with but had not used but for many a dozen times in the latter part of the season. He was an ace, and as one article (Pavlovic) I read noted, he's the last ace standing after this post-season, Lester failed, Kershaw failed, Strasburg failed, Wainright failed, Shields failed, but Bumgarner after five playoff games this year, he's done this:
He is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in three World Series starts and 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA this October while starting five of the Giants’ 11 games and throwing at least seven innings each time. This postseason has humbled one big name after the next, but Bumgarner is better than he has ever been.
“There is no bigger stage,” right fielder Hunter Pence said. “But he’s just Madison Bumgarner.”
But with the baseball world watching, Bumgarner grabbed hold of another opportunity to send a message. The Royals had not lost this postseason, but Bumgarner limited them to three hits and a lone run that came long after the game was out of hand. He mixed 94 mph fastballs with 67 mph curveballs and made such quick work of the Royals that it wasn’t worth comparing him to Shields or his other contemporaries. Bumgarner’s main competition this month has been the record book.
He threw a record 32 2/3 consecutive scoreless postseason innings on the road before Salvador Perez whacked a fastball into the home bullpen in the seventh. That shot also snapped Bumgarner’s run of 21 straight scoreless World Series innings to begin his career, the second-longest streak in history. When the only man ahead of you on a list is Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson (28 innings), you’re doing just fine.
“I’m not here trying to set records and keep streaks going and whatever, but you do know about it,” he said. “A World Series game is not something you exactly forget about.”One new thing I learned in the run up to Game 1 is that Bumgarner has been pitching the way Lincecum used to pitch: he doesn't study the hitters ahead of time. Don't recall exactly, perhaps he does a little studying, but mainly he goes to the mound and he and Posey observes how the batter is swinging the bat and adjusts their approach to each batter individually. Clearly, that means that Posey is his partner in crime in doing this and, in addition, it is not like Bumgarner is not incorporating the study that Posey had put into each hitter. And it appears to be a winning formula in the playoffs so far, the Giants are 4-1 in his starts, and probably would have been 5-0 had he not thrown away that ball and gave up those runs against the Nats.
For all the talk about Pence, he has not had one good offensive series in the playoffs once. That is, in terms of batting line, best OPS was against the Nats, .705, that nearing Neifi territory. And his series against the Cards is the first one where he had any above average stat, with a .350 OBP, his OBP (one over .316), SLG (none over .400), and ISO (most under 100, or close) have been very ordinary up to now. However, in three of the six series he has played in, he had at least 3 RBIs in them, so it is not like he hasn't been productive, but neither has he been the $90M man either.
With his homer and double in this game, this could be his best series ever if he can just continue to hit. That's already as many extra-base hits that he has had in any series previously (4 and 7 games). One more would set a career high. His second homer ever in post-season, so he's never had multiple homers in a series. Two RBI already, only need two to tie his high, three to break.
Blanco Getting White-Hot
I've complained about Blanco leading off as much as anyone else, mainly because when he gets into his head that he needs to be better, he plays worse. Blanco for his career numbers, would be fine as a leadoff hitter, but sometimes he gets into his head that he needs to do more and then he struggles, like he did to end the season and to start the playoffs. For example, in 2011, when Pagan first went down, Blanco actually outhit what Pagan had up to then for about a month or so. But then the injuries piled up - Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval, Crawford - and the offense struggled, and Blanco tried to take the team on his shoulders by hitting 5-run homers, and soon he was hurting the offense too. When he's like that, he kills the offense, and I would rather Pence lead off when Blanco is like this (though given what I learned about Pence in the playoffs above, it was probably better that Bochy kept both where they are).
His problem, it seems to me, is that in the majors, he's a low powered speedster who can get on base a lot, while in Venezuela, he's a middle of the order bat who drives in runs as well as score runs, he's a run producer. When he's content with being what he is in the majors (like this season, when batting in the bottom of the order), he can hit pretty well (.316/.392/.441/.833 in 6, 7, 8 vs. .213/.282/.348/.630 leading off). And that's a pattern that's held during his career.
But he started heating up in the last four games of the Cards series and in Game 1 got on base three times, hit and two walks, scored two runs (including the first run of the game) and drive in another, accounting for three of the runs. He's a nice hitter when he plays within his limitations. Hopefully he can keep this up for the rest of the series, that would make winning it much easier.
Striking One Off the List
Bochy threw Strickland out there in the 9th to face the Royals middle of the order. He was suppose to be Bochy's secret weapon for the playoffs that allows him to use his regular set-up men and closer, as normal, switch to Petit for long relief in extra innings (then Lincecum), then Strickland to save it, if necessary. But after all those homers, they had to pull him aside and fix what ails him. That was reminiscent of the Giants doing the same with Bumgarner in 2012.
Strickland passed with flying colors, though with a 6 run lead, that helps. In fact, he struck out two of their better hitters, Cain and Willingham. He also got his first World Series appearance out of the way, so hopefully he can be calmer for any and all future appearances.
2014 World Series Game 2
I covered Game 2 in my first post, I'll pull that out here, and clean it up a bit, I kind of rambled there.
Game 2 will be a toss up, mainly because I'm not sure either pitcher can stand up to the pressure. Peavy has never had a DOM start ever in the playoffs. Thus Venture is up on him, throwing a DOM start against the Angels. Still, Ventura had a 2 PQS in this ALCS start, as he was very wild, didn't give up that many hits but walked 3 and only struck out 3 in 5.2 IP. Our patient hitters could eat him up while our hackers could drive him crazy as he throw a bad pitch to Pablo and watches it fly away, far away.
I think this is a game where you wait for the first pitcher to blow up, then the other team will preserve the lead by taking out their starter the moment there is trouble and have their bullpen save the game.
This game can go either way, but I would note that Bochy is comfortable bringing in his relievers at any time in the game, even if the starting pitcher hasn't reached 5 IP yet, whereas Yost has mostly defined roles for his relievers, with Herrera his 7th inning guy (sometimes 6th), Davis his 8th, and Holland his 9th, and probably roles for everyone else too, that is the thing often said about relievers, they like to know what their role is and when they might be used.
Big Game James: NOT! How About Yordano?
With that miserable start, James Shield speculation went from "maybe they start him on short rest, if necessary, in Game 4" to "maybe they skip his start and have Duffy pitch instead." That was in line with his historic patterns in pitching in the playoffs
Ventura don't have such a history for us to look at. He had a DOM start in his first playoff start and a 2 PQS in the second. He also got blown up a bit in his relief appearance in the Wild Card game. Ventura had a 3.20 ERA but a 3.60 FIP in the season. He has their biggest K/9 at 7.8, but also walks too many, 3.4 BB/9, for a good but not great 2.30 K/BB. So far, in the playoffs, he's walking less but also striking out less, way too low for strong control of the game (i.e. BABIP has more control), at 5.5 K/9 and 2.00 K/BB.
Let's take a look at splits He is a RHP, but has actually been better against LHP in his short career. Somehow, he has faced as many LHB as RHB (is there that many lefty hitters?). And this pattern continues from his past three minor league seasons, he's just murder on LHB, with nearly 100 point difference in OPS in the minors, and in his short MLB career so far, RHB: .252/.325/.387/.712 (which is OK, but not that good), and LHB: .229/.299/.343/.642 (which is stifling).
And the Giants lineup is filled with lefties: Blanco, Panik, Sandoval (he switch-hits but not that well, really, relative to his dominant left hand), Belt, Ishikawa, Crawford. The Giants might get shut down, though Belt and Crawford hits both RHP and LHP equally, and I believe Posey and Pence do alright against either as well. Morse as well. Perhaps Perez should start in LF in Game 2, we'll know how much the Giant believe in these tendencies if they go with Perez over Ishikawa.
He's been much better at home, 2.87 K/BB (which is above average) vs. 1.84 (which is slightly below good), so that works in his favor as well.
I think he's going to be tougher than Shields, but how much, given how low a bar Shields set? Given his tendencies against LHP and at home, plus he is their second best pitcher with 60% DOM and 17% DIS, and that he at least has a DOM start under his belt in the playoffs, it should be a tough game, a game hard to win, even if we had Bumgarner going again.
Peavy Powerless Plus Prevention
Especially because Peavy has not been a pitcher one could rely on in the playoffs. He has never had a DOM start in seven opportunities, but four DIS starts, which is a horrendous ratio: 0% DOM/57% DIS. However, his last two DIS starts were because he was pulled early, not because of REALLY bad pitching, which he had done before, he would have had a MID (2 or 3) had he gone one more inning in each case. And in four of his last five playoff starts, he gave up 2 or less runs, so at least lately he's been able to limit the damage of all the hits and walks he gives up.
One of the articles I read (Pavlovic again I believe), noted that Peavy spoke with a bunch of his buddies on the Red Sox for tips on how to handle the Royals. Peavy also noted in a post-game interview about his preparation for Game 2, about how he used the time off (roughly 10 days or so) to tweak a mechanic that was off in the last start. So perhaps there is some hope.
Question Mark vs. Inevitable
So this will be a race between a potential ticking bomb (or not) in Ventura and the inevitable in Peavy (unless he can whip out the DOM start he has been incapable of producing in seven starts so far or at least control the damage, which he has mostly done in his five most recent starts).
As I noted above:
This game can go either way, but I would note that Bochy is comfortable bringing in his relievers at any time in the game, even if the starting pitcher hasn't reached 5 IP yet, whereas Yost has mostly defined roles for his relievers, with Herrera his 7th inning guy (sometimes 6th), Davis his 8th, and Holland his 9th, and probably roles for everyone else too, that is the thing often said about relievers, they like to know what their role is and when they might be used.Luckily, we won Game 1, splitting on the road is the goal, and that puts us in the catbird seat for winning the series, plus we could get greedy and try to sweep them at their home. As noted ad nauseum by now, I'll bet, each game in the playoffs is a must win game (unless you are up by at least two games, i.e. 2-0 or 3-0).