A week ago it was a euphoric World Series Eve in Kansas City. Fifteen innings ago, the Royals were up 4-1 in the third inning, leading the World Series two games to one. Since, the Giants have scored 16 unanswered runs. Now, the Royals have lost consecutive games for the first time since September 19-20 (Detroit at Kauffman Stadium) and are returning home for Game 6 facing elimination.
It’s the 34th time a team has returned home down 3-2. Historically, it doesn’t end well, losing 20 of the 33 series, but, they’re 10-23 in Game 6’s. But, recent history is really on the Royals side. Home teams have won the World Series outright in eight of the last 10 chances, dating back to 1982. The only exceptions are the 1992 Atlanta Braves, who lost to Toronto, and the 2003 Yankees, who lost to the Marlins. Both of those series ended in Game 6. Since the Pirates won in 1979, road teams are 0-9 in Game 7’s. But, amazingly, they were 20-4 prior.
Both teams have been in this situation before. In 1985, the Royals won Games 6 and 7 at home to win their only World Series. Now, to get out of the 1985 shadow, they’ll need history on their side again.
“We’re just living in the moment, enjoying it now, knowing we have a good opportunity to go back home and win two games,” Alex Gordon said. “It’s going to be hard to do, but we’re up for the challenge, and we think we can get it done.”
The Giants, facing the Angels in 2002, won the first game on the road and then lost Game 2, lost Game 3 at home but won the next two nights to regain the series lead, only to lose the last two. What is also significant about the year? It’s the only other time two Wild Card’s have played in the World Series, other than this year.
The last time the Royals lost a Game 5 of the World Series tied 2-all in a best of seven format, their series record is 0-1, having lost the 1980 World Series under such circumstances. The Giants HAVE NEVER won a tied 2-games-all or lead 3-games-2 best-of-7 World Series; they’re 0-2 after winning Game 5, like last night, in a tied 2-games-2 series, having also lost in 1962, joining 2002. When the Giants have lost both best-of-7 MLB playoff series in which they led 3-games-2 but didn’t win Game 6. When trailing a best-of-7 MLB playoff series 3-games-2, the Kansas City Royals lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 to lose the 1980 World Series.
The teams that have won Game 1’s have won 9 of the last 10 World Series; teams that have won Game 3 of a 1-1 series have won 67% of the series’ and of the 43 times a World Series was tied 2-2, the game five winner won the series 28, but just four of the last 11.
So, you got all of that?
Basically, history is not on the Royals side, but recent history is. And teams trends strongly favors the Royals.
“We know we can do it,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “We have a confident group in here.”
Now, Conrad breaks down the rest of the series and what the Royals have to do to win it…
The last time the Royals played a must win game was September 30. They are going to play another, almost one full month later tomorrow night. They have Yordano Ventura taking the hill Tuesday, and there is no one else on this team I’d rather have up there in this situation. The 23-year-old gives the Royals the best chance to win. It’s no secret that the recipe to win for this Royals team is good starting pitching, stellar defense, then get it to the big three at the back of the bullpen. That’s what they’re going to have to do again. While a number of players have good career numbers against the Giants’, Jake Peavy, hoping to outslug them would be unwise. Sure if the Royals hit some homers, they’ll gladly take them, but sticking to the usual script is what should be expected.
The Royals have only drawn six walks over the first five games of the series. I do not expect them to be more patient at the plate, as much as I’d absolutely love to see it. Just like the long ball, walking just isn’t something that the Royals know how to do. There are rumors that Ned Yost is considering moving Mike Moustakas and his .188 World Series average up from the nine-hole in game six. So be it. No one on this team is locked in right now. All five of Moose’s postseason RBI have come from his four homers. Cain is putting together the best at bats on the team, and he is already right where he should probably be at three. No change to this lineup built of mostly mediocre plate approaches is going to make worlds of difference on the scoreboard.
What I think our boys in blue need to do in order to force a game seven is look for inside pitches. As a whole, this team is overly aggressive on pitches off the plate outside. Peavy is a smart veteran, and if I’m him, I’m working off the plate all night long until the Royals prove to me they can lay off that pitch. Leave that pitch there, fellas. It’s killing you. I know that is far easier said than done, but even a few pitches left outside, forcing Peavy and the Giants’ bullpen closer to the zone, could result in the runs we need to stay alive. Let’s also run. Now, of course we’ve got to get on base to do that, but we can hit Peavy, and he can get emotional. Let’s get all over him. Run wild. Get back to putting pressure on the defense again. WE can do it with the next two Giants starters.
“We feel good about where we’re at, where we stand,” Jarrod Dyson said, suggesting the Royals no longer had to worry about Madison Bumgarner, who, by the way, has won two games in this series already and has a 0.29 ERA – allowing one run (a Slavy Perez HR in Game 1) in 31 IP – in his World Series career. He added, “We’ve got some guys that we can handle, and we can look forward to getting the job done.”
If/when we get to game seven, I think we’ll be there, anything goes. All hands on deck. Leave no weapon untouched. If Guthrie only goes three innings, go Herrera for two, Davis for two, and finish with Holland in the eighth and ninth if that’s what it takes. Don’t leave Willingham on the bench collecting dust. He, as well as Billy Butler, should have seen an at bat in each of the three games in San Francisco. Instead Nix had two AB, Butler 1, Willinham 0 and KELVIN HERRERA 1. Yes, the relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera who HAD NEVER BEEN IN A BATTERS BOX WITH A BAT IN HIS HAND IN HIS PRO CAREER (Because, Ned). Nothing can be done about that now, but learn from it. If Bochy brings in Affeldt for Moustakas late, GIVE HIM HAM. Whatever and whomever it takes. That shouldn’t need to be said, but I do fear Yost holding back and over thinking a move. Yost has a tendency to outsmart himself with some moves, convincing himself that if A, B and C happen, he’ll have the situation he wants for the next move. Unfortunately, he fails to see that making the initial move greatly reduces his chances of A, B and C happening. Keep it simple.
So all in all, it really is simple. You do you, Royals. There is no team that can field the ball better in the MLB in my opinion. Keep that up. It’s your real bread and butter. Put the ball in play and cause havoc on the bases. You lead the MLB in stolen bases because you’re good at it. Believe it. Lastly, Yordano and Guthrie are going to come up huge for this team, and are going to be heroes in Kansas City for a long time. I believe it. This is YOUR time. Sometimes you only get one chance to make history.
No matter what happens over these next 72 hours, I want to thank the Royals for giving this city what it so desperately needed, an attitude adjustment. The “we’ll always be losers” mindset was really getting old. This has been the most fun I’ve had watching major league baseball in my adult life. (I was seven in 1985.) It’s been incredible, really. Seeing Royals gear everywhere I go has been equally special. I ran into Joe Randa at a Wendy’s in Overland Park about ten years ago and even he commented as being surprised that I had a Royals jacket on. I don’t feel so alone anymore.
Now…LET”S GO GET ‘EM !!!
Follow Brian on Twitter: @briangraham624
Follow Conrad on Twitter: @ConradMcGorkin
Follow us on Twitter: @KCSportsNation