After two straight miserable games in San Francisco, the likely fallacious myth of momentum would appear to have been in the Giants' favor.
Needing just one win to end the Royals' shocking 2014 season, the Giants sent former Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy to the mound--a man who was lights out during the regular season after coming over in a deadline deal from Boston but struggled throughout both the postseason and his career in Kauffman Stadium.
For their part, the Royals sent prodigious rookie phenom Yordano Ventura to the mound. With the exception of a dominant outing against the Angels in the ALDS, Ventura had pitched well enough to keep the Royals in games this postseason but had been far from dominant.
With the smell of elimination in the crisp autumn air, the Royals offense wasted little time in assuring that there would in fact be a Game Seven.
After a perfect first inning for Yordano Ventura, the Royals threatened with two outs in the top of the first. Giants righty Jake Peavy did away with Alcides Escobar and Norichika Aoki with relative ease, but Lorenzo Cain worked a two-out full-count walk and Eric Hosmer rifled a single to left fielder Travis Ishikawa. Ishikawa stumbled on the turn and compounded the mistake by throwing the ball to second. Third-base coach Mike Jirschele wasn't far enough down the line when he tried to send Cain home, and what would likely have been the Royals' first run of the night ended up getting stranded at third when Billy Butler grounded into a fielder's choice at short.
Ventura nimbly worked around a one-out Hunter Pence double that was poked down the line at first on a good pitch low and away, getting Brandon Belt to chase a third strike up and in before Michael Morse flew out to the warning track in right--a fly ball that Aoki took his patented adventurous route to before catching it in the corner.
Alex Gordon led the second off with a broken bat flare to shallow left center that dropped for a single. Salvador Perez singled to right, driving the always alert Gordon first-to-third, and Mike Moustakas followed with an RBI-double up the line at first on a cutter that was left in on the middle third of the plate. 1 - 0 Royals. Omar Infante struck out rather feebly, but Alcides Escobar reached on a fielder's choice that resulted in no outs to load the bases.
With Infante still accounting for the only Royal out of the inning, Nori Aoki stepped to the plate. Fighting through a seven-pitch at-bat that only saw one ball, Aoki eventually sent a ground-ball single through the teeth of the left side of the infield, reaching on the single, and driving in Perez for the second Royals' run of the frame.
That Aoki single marked the end of Jake Peavy's night, who recorded just four outs and departed with three runners aboard for the suddenly impossible to hit Yusmeiro Petit. Lorenzo Cain was the first to face Petit, and with no margin for error for Petit, Cain demystified Petit with one beautiful swing of the bat, singling to shallow right center and driving in Moustakas and the adroit Escobar who was off to the races on contact. 4 - 0 Royals.
Myth having been shattered, Eric Hosmer planted his cleats in the box and, after falling into an 0-2 hole, watched as Petit uncorked a wild pitch that Posey didn't see at his feet and allowed Cain to advance into scoring position. Hosmer then ripped a chopper up the middle and flew into second on a two-run double that officially opened the floodgates. 6 - 0 Royals. Butler doubled in Hosmer. 7 - 0 Royals. Butler advanced to third on Gordon's ground out to first--the tenth batter and second out of the inning.
Yes, those last four paragraphs detailed just one frame for the Royals. If that seemed long, imagine how long it felt in the Giants' dugout.
Or for that matter to Ventura, who was coming out cold after a 32-minute bottom of the second. He started things off by embarrassing Travis Ishikawa for the first out of the inning. Then he walked the next three batters because why make things easy? With the bases loaded, Buster Posey came to the plate. With the Fox broadcast showing highlights of Posey cranking a grand slam in the 2012 NLDS off Mat Latos, Ventura induced a routine ground ball to short, and Escobar turned a quick 6-3 double play to end the San Francisco threat without a run crossing the plate. The 2012 Reds these Royals ain't.
Lorenzo Cain ground-rule doubled to deep center to drive in Omar Infante, who had torn a ground-rule double to the corner in right to start the attack with one out in the third. Unfortunately it was a ground-rule double, and Aoki didn't get to come around to score, which given the part of the park to which Cain's double went, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which he'd have not scored. 8 - 0 Royals.
Ventura worked around a single in the fourth and sent the Giants down in order in the top of the fifth.
Jean Machi, who gave up the run in the bottom of the third, cruised through the fourth but allowed another Royal run to score when Infante led off with a single and Escobar followed with a double. Despite Jirschele attempting to hold Infante at third--and clearly ignoring what every kid in the Western knows--Omar comin', and he slid headfirst around the tag at home. 9 - 0 Royals.
Ventura walked Pablo Sandoval with two outs in the sixth but with his 85th pitch of the evening got Spin Doctors' frontman Hunter Pence to ground one right back to the mound to end the inning.
Again, he ran into limited trouble in the top of the seventh, after walking Brandon Belt and giving up a ground-ball single to Brandon Crawford, but he eventually induced a pop fly in foul territory behind third base to end the inning, exiting the game with the Giants sporting an ugly zero in the run column on the scoreboard.
Great f***ing start @YordanoVentura. My priapism holds no grudges.
— Laird Josh Duggan (@oldmanduggan) October 29, 2014
Mike Moustakas, well, he decided he was going to hang his fifth dong of the postseason to send the score to 10 - 0.
Jason Frasor came in to relieve Ventura in the top of the eighth. But I Don't Know What To Do With Those Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs allowed two base-runners but finished the inning without allowing a run. Tim Collins finished things off for the Royals in the ninth.
With its ten runs scored, the Royals' offensive attack, consisting of every starter reaching base by the fourth inning clearly stole the show, but Yordano Ventura's efforts should not be discounted. Over his 100 pitches, Ventura threw 58 strikes, walking five while striking out four. Of course, he only allowed three hits, so while he wasn't always pounding the strike zone, his mythic fastball proved far too much for the Giants to handle. But for the Hunter Pence double on a pitcher's pitch in the second and walking three straight to load the bases after the big break in the third, Ventura never really got into much trouble.
Ventura shut down the Giants' previously potent offense, and the Royals jumped all over the Giants' pitchers, Yusmeiro Petit included. While momentum seems to be little more than a product of lazy writers trying to concoct tired narratives to fit their preconceived notions of what was going to happen, it is hard not to feel confident heading into tomorrow's final game of the season.
Read that again.
TOMORROW'S FINAL GAME OF THE SEASON.
This is it, but it wouldn't be possible without tonight's throttling of the Giants. Tim Hudson versus Jeremy Guthrie and every pitcher in each pen. Game Three featured the same matchup, and the Royals came out on top. Could it happen again?
Whatever happens, tonight the Royals played like champions.
If the priapism still has its hold on you, it's time to call your physician.