There was no joy in Missouri after the Kansas City Royals suffered their first postseason loss since Game 4 of the 1985 World Series in losing to MadBum and San Fran in Game 1 of this season’s Fall Classic on Tuesday.
Royals fans and certain media outlets were in panic mode and reciting the last line of one of the most legendary forms of baseball-inspired poetry and prose that’s ever been written.
Indeed KC whiffed in its first WS game, losing 7-1 with their ace Big Game James Shields on the mound. But in Game 2, the Royals got back to business and evened the series at 1-1 with a 7-2 win over the Giants.
If the Royals were going to have a chance to snatch the World Series from a team that has gone 16-3 in their last 19 postseason games, they had to regain the pitching excellence, speed and timely offensive barrages that have come to define their MLB rise.
KC shook off its Game 1 loss and broke a 2-2 Game 2 tie with a five-run, sixth inning highlighted by Salvador Perez's two-run double and an Omar Infante two-run homer. The barrage seemed to tick off San Fran flamethrower Hunter Strickland, who has given up an MLB-record five postseason dingers. He was one of three pitchers in that explosive inning that couldn’t record an out for the usually reliable staff. In fact, the Giants needed a MLB playoff record five pitchers in an inning to stop the bleeding.
Strickland did a lot of jawing but manager Bruce Bochy probably preferred that Strickland take his energies out on the strike zone. Instead, the newbie got shelled and tossed the game into the Kauffman Stadium drain. Perez and Strickland exchanged words, but no one was sure why Strickland was beefing. Was he salty that he got bombed? Obviously, but what sparked his fury? Did he not like Infante’s home run trot or did Perez say something to him as he rounded third?
"I don't know what happened with that guy," said Perez. "He got mad because Omar hit a homer. When I got close to home plate, he was like, 'Get off the field.' I was surprised. I was like, 'Why you look at me? I didn't hit the homer! Omar hit the homer!'"
After the game, Strickland — sounding like a wounded puppy — says he was mad at himself and lost it.
"I guess there was some miscommunication between us," Strickland said. "What I initially assumed was wrong, and that's my fault for assuming. I was mad at myself and I didn’t control my emotions like I should have."
It’s still unclear why Strickland wigged out, but it adds more drama to an already intense and highly competitive series. It will be interesting to see how this subplot materializes.
As far as the series goes, the winner of Game 3 on Friday night will be the statistical favorite to take the title. According to Elias Sports Bureau, when the World Series is tied at 1-1, the winner of Game 3 goes on to win 70% of the time (38-16).
Two vets looking to make a final, emphatic mark on their MLB legacies will face off at AT&T Park on Friday.
Jeremy Guthrie, an 11-year journeyman who led the AL in losses with 17 in 2009 and 2011 as a member of the B-More Orioles rotation. will lock horns with 39-year-old bulldog Tim Hudson. It’s a throwback reunion like King T, Ice Cube and MC Breed doing one more Coliseum show before they officially retire from the hustle.
Guthrie (5 IP, 1.80 ERA) is making his first WS appearance and 2014 is his first postseason party. Hudson’s been throwing strikes for 16 years and has 214 career wins. He’s pitched in four ALDS’ with Oakland in the early 2000’s, four NLDS’ with Atlanta and San Fran and now an NLCS and World Series this season. With 68.3 innings pitched and a 3.42 ERA, Hudson has the slight edge in major game experience, but KC still has that October magic running through its veins.
More impressive than the 8-0 record they ran off up until Tuesday’s defeat, was the way the young gunners bounced back on Wednesday and pounced on the first opportunity they had to change their fortunes and make this a series.