World Series….Game 7!!!!

Strap on your cups and your cleats one last time boys and girls. It’s the final World Series post.
Again, before we get started on the series itself, there are a couple of baseball related news items I’d like to hit.
First, the weirdest headline that no one is surprised by: Jose Canseco accidentally shoots off finger
Really, I don’t even need to add anything to that. But just for grins, here’s the money quote by Canseco’s live in girlfriend (who once had a restraining order on him), Leila Knight:
“I have to go home and clean up the blood and mess,” said Knight. “It’s been a long day.”
Honey, you’ve hitched your wagon to Jose Canseco. You’ve got a lifetime of long days ahead of you.
Second story I wanted to touch on was last night’s rendition of God Bless America performed by Tennessee Air National Guard Technical Sergeant Angie Johnson.
To begin with, she knocked it out of the park. Beautiful performance. Absolutely killed it.
Now, TechSgt Johnson was a contestant on NBC’s The Voice a couple years ago. Upon seeing her and hearing her, my wife immediately dubbed her “Sergeant Hottie”. Apparently, several members of the Kansas City Royals agree. I didn’t know it was possible to be that hot dressed in fatigues (unless you’re a female IDF soldier), but Johnson managed it.
After she finished singing, the cameras panned the KC bench and caught Lorenzo Cain yelling out “Man she’s hot!” Eric Hosmer apparently agreed.
Here’s the video of her performance, which is worth watching just for her God Bless America. Cain and Hosmer are at the very end of the clip.
And now, with that out of the way………
GAME 7!!!
This is the first Game 7 since 2011 and only the fourth since 2001. Since 1909 there have only been 36 World Series Game 7s. Of those 36, only 6 were decided by 5 or more runs. What’s that mean? Buckle up folks, history tells us that tonight is going to be fun.
How did we get to Game 7? The Royals were all out of bubble gum when the showed up for Game 6.
The Royals came out of the gate like lightning, scoring 7 runs in the bottom of the 2nd. They knocked around Jake Peavy until he was pulled and then destroyed Yusmeiro Petit.
Kansas City went on to add runs in the 3rd, 5th and 7th innings to push the score all the way to 10-0. The Royals racked up 15 hits in the game with all 9 starting offensive players recording at least one hit. They were led by CF Lorenzo Cain who ended his night with 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs batted in and 1 run scored. Five other players recorded 2 hits.
The Giants had two chances early in the game to score, but failed to capitalize on either. Hunter Pence stroked a 1 out double in the top of the 2nd, but a strikeout and a fly ball stranded him there. In the top of the 3rd, Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura walked 3 hitters to load the bases. Buster Posey, perhaps, got a little over aggressive and swung at the first pitch he saw. That resulted in an inning ending double play.
Other than that, Ventura dominated for the 7 innings he pitched. Taking the mound with a tribute to his friend Oscar Tavares written on his hat, the young man pitched the game of his life. He went 7 strong innings and only allowed 3 hits. The only blemish on his night was that he walked 5 batters. But you can get away with that when no one is hitting the ball. Ventura came up big, likely bigger than anyone was expecting him to.
With the World Series on the line, the Royals handed the ball to a 23 year old who had just lost a close friend. Ventura didn’t blink. With mechanics, and hair, reminiscent of a young Pedro Martinez, Ventura’s blazing fastball, which he threw for 81 of his 100 pitches and as high as 100mph, gave the Royals the results of a young Pedro and a Game 7.
So, what will we see tonight?
Hell if I know. This series has been all over the place. History tells us that we’re likely to see a game decided by just a few runs. However, only one game in this series has been decided by fewer than 5 runs. We’ve seen dominant pitching performances and pitchers knocked out in the 2nd and 3rd innings.
The Giants will call on veteran righty Tim Hudson. Hudson will become the Series oldest Game 7 starter at 39 years of age. The Royals send 10 year veteran Jeremy Guthrie to the mound.
Game 7 will be a rematch of Game 3 in which Hudson went 5 2/3 innings giving up 3 runs, while Guthrie went 5 innings and surrendered 2 runs. I think that both teams would be very happy if they can get the same kind of production again. There are two HUGE question marks going into Game 7 and they both involve pitching. The first is which KC bullpen will show up. KC’s bullpen of Herrera, Holland, Davis and Finnegan (you could throw Duffy in as well) has shown itself to be alternately dominating and extremely vulnerable.
The second question mark is the Man Beast Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner will be in the pen for the Giants tonight, but you have to wonder how much he’s got in the tank. He’s had just two days rest since his historic domination in Game 5.
Two of the people who are likely to make their presence felt and have a huge impact won’t even be on the field. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and Royals’ manager Ned Yost. We’ll focus on them tonight.
Bruce Bochy is in his 8th year as the manager of the San Francisco Giants
Bochy
After spending 10 years as a catcher in the majors, Bochy went into coaching and ultimately became the San Diego Padres manager in 1995. He managed there through the 2006 season and had the most success of any Padres manager. He holds the team record for most wins, won NL coach of the year in 1996 and led the Padres to the World Series in 1998.
In October of 2006, Bochy signed a deal to become the manager of the Giants. He’s since gone on to become the 19th manager in MLB history to reach 1,600 wins, as well as winning the 2010 and 2012 World Series. Bochy has been here before and knows how to win. I wouldn’t expect any big screwups from him tonight.
Ned Yost is in his 5th season as the manager of the Kansas City Royals.
Yost
Yost played for 6 seasons in the major leagues before going into coaching. He was the Atlanta Braves bullpen coach from 1991-1998 and then moved to the third base coach’s box (where in my opinion he sucked mightily) for the 1999-2002 seasons. Yost was named the Milwaukee Brewers head coach for the 2003 season and stayed there through 2008. While Yost brought about a much improved organization, he also couldn’t maintain it with any consistency. His inconsistencies, including a collapse that blew an 8 1/2 game lead in 2007, ultimately lead to his firing in 2008. He was hired as the Royals manager in May 2010. He went on to manage the Royals to their first winning season in a decade in 2013 and their first playoff berth since 1985 this year. Yost’s ups and downs as a manager lead me to wonder if he’ll make it through tonight unscathed.
That’s all I’ve got Rons and Ettes. I’ve had a helluva good time writing these posts and talking baseball with all of you. Thank you to CBD for starting this thing off over the weekend and thank you to Ace for allowing me to post here. Most of all, thanks to you, Horde, for the warm welcome and spirited conversation. I hope you enjoyed the posts and I hope you enjoyed the Series even more.

World Series Game 6

Grab a cold beer and a sausage dog. Slather that sucker up with some mustard, onions and peppers and take a seat. It’s the World Series post.

Before we jump right into looking back at Game 5 and then forward to 6, there are a couple stories I wanted to hit on real quick.

The first is Aaron Lewis. I did not see the Anthem before Game 5, but I’ve seen tons of stories that Lewis flubbed one of the opening lines. Instead of singing “what so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming” he sang the second half as “were so gallantly streaming.” He’s getting absolutely ripped for it. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other on it. I’m not going to rip the guy mercilessly like some are, but I’m not going to just give it a pass either. What I did want to do, was make sure you guys saw the statement he put out later that night.

“All I can say is I’m sorry and ask for the Nation’s forgiveness. My nerves got the best of me and I am completely torn up about what happened. America is the greatest country in the world. The Star-Spangled Banner means so much to so many, including myself. I hope everyone can understand the intensity of the situation and my true intent of this performance. I hope that the Nation, Major League Baseball and the many fans of our national pastime can forgive me.”

The other news item is a very sad one. Cardinals rookie Oscar Taveras, along with his girlfriend, was killed in car accident on Sunday in his native Dominican Republic. TMZ Sports (who knew there was such a thing and no, I’m not linking TMZ) has a story up that no alcohol is suspected in the crash. Fast car, wet road.

Manager Mike Matheny released a statement and, maybe it’s just me, but I could almost feel the pain and sorrow coming through his words. The whole article is worth a read, but especially Matheny’s comments.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/99707820/st-louis-cardinals-rookie-outfielder-oscar-taveras-killed-in-car-accident-in-dominican-republic

Taveras was, by all accounts, an amazing talent with a very bright future ahead of him. He was considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball and the Cardinals had said that he was the best hitting prospect to come through their organization since Pujols.

A sad story of a life gone too soon.

oscar-taveras

Ok, enough of the bad news, on to more fun stuff. Game 5.

My. God. Jim.

Madison Bumgarner. I’ve been watching baseball a long time. What Bumgarner did in Game 5 was one of the most impressive pitching performances I’ve seen. I played for a long time. I know what it takes to go 9 and I know what it takes to shut another team out. That performance truly was special and magnificent and all those other words we normally roll our eyes at when big headed, cheesy voiced announcers gush them out. But last night they were deserved.

When I think of “dominating post season pitching performances”, two games come to mind. One is Tom Glavine’s Game 6 in the 1995 World Series against Cleveland. (Sorry/not sorry Alex) Glavine threw 8 shut out innings and then turned the ball over to Mark Wohlers to close out the 9th and the Series. The other is Curt Schillings’ infamous “bloody sock game” in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. Schilling went 7 innings and only surrendered one run while being obviously injured. (Shut up truthers. It was not ketchup or red dye.)

Bumgarner put both of them to shame. He’s now thrown 30 innings in his career in the World Series and he’s given up one run. One. Single. Uno. That’s insanity. That’s an ERA of 0.29. That simply doesn’t happen. Certainly not in today’s baseball culture. I’m begging for a Game 7 so I can see him come back on short rest.

Two things were lost in Bumgarner’s domination: 1) James Shields came back and had a strong outing. He threw very well and had given up two runs through 6 innings. Normally, that would be enough. 2) KC’s bullpen, which was one of the biggest strengths of the team, got knocked around again. Herrera and Davis gave up three runs in their two innings pitched. I believe I have this right, KC’s bullpen has given up 11 runs in their last 6 innings. That has to be corrected or tonight’s game will be it.

So what are we going to see tonight in Game 6?

Kansas City calls on Yordano Ventura to extend this Series and their season. Ventura threw fairly well in Game 2, giving the Royals 5+ innings and surrendering 2 runs. Honestly, with the recent woes of the KC bullpen, they’re going to need better from him. They also need their bats to fire up again like we saw in Game 2. They broke out for 7 runs there, but we haven’t seen a whole lot from them since. Maybe the trip back home will inspire them. More than anything, the Royals need Huffy, Davis, Finnegan and Herrera to get their acts together. That bullpen simply must be firing on all cylinders if the Royals want to compete.

The Giants look to veteran Jake Peavy to finish the Series off and give them their 3rd World Series in the last 5 years. Peavy got touched up pretty good in Game 2, giving up 4 runs in 5+ innings. Peavy doesn’t need to be Bumgarner good, he just needs to give them a quality start. In this instance, I’m defining that as 5+ innings and 3 runs or less. Yes, I know that’s not really “quality”, but SanFran’s bats have averaged over 7 runs in their 3 victories. If Peavey can keep it close, the Giants offensive power will have a chance to close things out tonight.

Who are we looking at tonight?

For San Francisco, it’s Buster Posey.

Buster

Yes, he looks 15. No, I don’t think he can shave. BUT, he was the starting catcher for the Giants in the Series victories in 2010 and 2012. He’s an All-Star, a Rookie of the Year and an MVP. He is, undoubtedly, one of the leaders of that team. He’s an excellent defensive catcher and, typically, an outstanding hitter. However, this World Series has not been his best. He’s hitting just a bit over .200, has just 2 runs batted in and only 1 run scored. If the Giants’ offense comes alive tonight and Posey’s bat wakes up, look for some serious offensive fireworks.

For Kansas City, watch for Lorenzo Cain.

cain_iub46loh_sua3guzh

Cain is only in his second full year as a starter for the Royals, but his speed and skill in center field have already made him a standout. Add to his defensive prowess the fact that he’s hitting the ball very well in the postseason and Cain becomes a huge part of the Royals’ success. The 2014 ALCS MVP is hitting above .300 in the postseason and has scored 12 runs. He’s getting on base and he’s coming around to score. Batting in the 3rd spot, he’s also setting up those guys behind him. Cain’s offense and defense are critical to the Royals getting a victory.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight folks. As always, I hope you enjoyed the post and I hope you enjoy the game more.