Advantage: Kansas City
It is the job of the starting pitcher to keep his team in the game and give them a chance to win. It sounds simple. It isn’t. Big innings or imposing hitting threats waiting in the on-deck circle can cause a manager to make the waive to the bullpen. The best manager’s know when to make that nod. I think both the Royals Ned Yost and the Giants Bruce Bochy have handled their pitching well. So far. More about that later.
Tonight’s Game 3 was a battle of two tried and true veterans. The Royals sent Jeremy Guthrie to the mound. He’s a pretty seasoned and experienced pitcher. He really rebounded once he left the high altitude of Mile High Stadium in Colorado.
Guthrie throws a ton of breaking balls and off-speed pitches to go along with his average fastball. He is a fly ball pitcher, and home runs have been an issue. I thought for sure the Giants could take him deep tonight with a strong wind blowing out-especially to right-center field. After a bit of a sluggish start, he came on strong and pitched well enough to win. Of course, the bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis and Greg Holland each played their usual role in slamming the door shut at the back end of the game.
I thought Giants veteran pitcher Tim Hudson took quite a while to get his sea legs. He looked nervous to me. The wide strike zone of home plate umpire Jim Reynolds was both helpful and harmful. When Hudson did get the low strikes called his way he was grateful, I’m sure. When Reynolds called the same pitches a ball later in the game it rattled Hudson a bit.
Hudson has to get sink on his pitches to be effective. He did after a while and he was effective. There were quite a few ground ball outs induced by guys hitting the top of the baseball.
For me, the premiere at-bat of the game was Eric Hosmer against left Javier Lopez in the 6th inning. Hosmer saw 10 pitches before slamming a single on pitch No. 11. It was up in the zone and it knocked in the winning run. Usually Lopez is money in the bank against left-handed hitters. Hosmer had been struggling in the Series. Not this time.
The defense behind both starting pitchers was superb. Sliding catches saved the bacon. Both teams played and pitched well enough to win. The Royals got that one extra hit at the right time to seal the deal. Momentum shifts in the game could be felt throughout the stands. Royals to Giants and back to Royals. Now momentum remains with the Royals until the first pitch tomorrow. Who knows-it may not shift at all.
If i’m Bruce Bochy I don’t even think about starting Madison Bumgarner on such short rest. I would save him until he was on his natural schedule between starts Or maybe even until the Royals had won three games and he was a “must” start. But I certainly wouldn’t start him in Game 4. My Giants starter would be Yusmeiro Petit. I think he’s the “Wild Card” in the Series. He’s the extra starter the Royals don’t have. If not Petit, then I’d go with Ryan Vogelsong as originally planned. But frankly, I like Petit better for the situation. Bumgarner is the ace in the hole and should be played properly. That play will be very meaningful. Very crucial. it will be part of Bochy’s managing legacy.
The Royals will counter with Jason Vargas. It’s a good assignment, and the right one for the team that’s up one game in the Series. The only “spare part” pitcher they could even think to use as a starter would be Danny Duffy. I wouldn’t go there. Why invite uncertainty and unwanted intrigue to the party. keep it simple. Keep the mo flowing. Give the ball to Vargas. He can be very crafty.
Sal Perez showed the cannon he has for an arm tonight, cutting down Hunter Pence trying to steal. And what was up with that steal attempt? Was it a straight steal? Did someone miss a sign? It didn’t make much sense to me.
Right- handed pitchers simply have to feed Alcides Escobar a steady diet of sliders and curves down and away until he shows he can hit them. He should never see a fastball from a right-handed pitcher. Especially on the first few pitches of the game. The guy goes to the on-deck circle swinging. Get him off-balance and keep him there early in the count.
For a rookie that has now pitched in both the College World Series and the Major League Baseball World Series in the same season, Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan has ice water in his veins. And a nasty changeup. He is no fluke. He’ll be around a while. The guy can pitch.
Alex Gordon can murder a fastball up in the zone.
Lefties were hitting .194 off him before Hosmer got that hit off of Javier Lopez.
I was seated in the auxiliary media section in left field. The game started in bright sunshine. It was so bright, I couldn’t find the cursor on my screen or even see the screen to write or tweet. Then in about the 6th inning it got so cold I had to put on my jacket. In the 8th I went to my bullpen and called upon my even warmer jacket. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know how cold it gets in any American city in late October at 7PM.
I was prepared. Tomorrow-my MLB.com hoody, gloves and a hat. Take that-San Francisco weather. I hope it doesn’t rain.
Mike Morse has had two monster hits for the Giants this postseason. A huge home run and tonight’s ringing double. And he just recently returned from injury.
Twitter was so busy tonight it crashed. Every one of us out in left field looked at our screens at the same time. Every screen had some silly TECHNICAL ERROR message. Take twitter away from me and I’m a different person. I have a need to share.
The bus ride back to the hotel from the ball park showed once again why this is such a beautiful city. Major buildings were lit with orange colored lights. Way cool. And the harbor area with tons of boats lit for the occasion just added to the ambiance.
The stands were loaded with sophisticated fans. Neither team need be told by the scoreboard when to cheer. People dressed in orange far outnumbered those in Royal blue. But the blues were plenty loud. Maybe it’s because rows and rows of them were in the section adjacent to our Auxiliary box. Man, were they ever excited. Who can blame them?
On the way out, a couple colleagues asked me if the Giants are finished? My answer-not by a long shot. They were one timely hit away from a home field victory tonight. it didn’t happen. But give the Royals credit. They used Formula One to gain the upper glove. Formula One is the bullpen. Formula Two is the Running Game with Terrance Gore, Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain. They didn’t have a chance to pull that trigger on the stolen base routine. In fact, they didn’t need it. Formula One Won.
Join me on twitter during the game tomorrow. I may be reached @BerniePleskoff. And please bring your friends.
That’s it. I’m done. Good night. And thanks for reading my work.