KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The bottom of the second inning Tuesday night lasted 40 pitches, a lifetime in one dugout and a blur in the other. The San Francisco Giants watched a possible coronation devolve into a painful slog. The Kansas City Royals turned an existential fight into a giddy celebration. The crowd at Kaufmann Stadium exalted and waved blue towels and hollered for more, and more they will get. Everyone will.
Baseball season persists. The vestiges of summer linger another day. The Royals pushed the 110th World Series to a seventh game with a 10-0 thrashing of the Giants in Game 6. Teams have played 2,461 major league baseball games since March 22. Because the Royals constructed a seven-run second inning, Jake Peavy melted down and Yordano Ventura dealt, one more will decide the champion.
Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will throw the first pitch of Game 7 on Wednesday at 8:07 p.m., in opposition of 39-year-old Tim Hudson . Every pitcher in both dugouts will be ready, including left-hander Madison Bumgarner, the mountainous left-hander who has gripped this October by the throat. The Giants will claim their third World Series in five seasons, or the Royals will win their first since 1985. Corks will pop in one clubhouse. Bags will be stuffed with gear in the other.
“Leave it all out there,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “It’s what everyone dreams about playing in, the game you work your whole life to be in. You don’t need to explain anything more than that.”
Returning home to the raucous stadium in the shadow of Interstate 70, the Royals smashed the Giants with a haymaker to the jaw. Eight of the first nine men they sent to the plate in the second inning recorded hits, and the Giants’ bullpen stirred before Peavy retried a hitter. Peavy, a 33-year-old veteran, recorded four outs in total, the shortest World Series start since David Wells’s injury-shortened Game 5 performance in 2003.
“It’s as disappointing as it can get,” said Peavy, who yielded five earned runs despite one extra-base hit. “It’s almost easier to swallow sometimes when you don’t make pitches that you want to make and you get beat around — you give up doubles in the gap and stuff like that.”
Ventura’s dominance may be lost amidst the Royals’ outburst, but he fired 96-mph fastballs past the Giants for seven scoreless, three-hit innings, allowing Manager Ned Yost to save his wicked trio of late-inning relievers for Game 7. Ventura, 23, struck out four, walked five and fired two 100-mph fastballs at Michael Morse in the seventh inning, one on his 92nd pitch out of 100.
“You could tell, man,” Morse said. “A guy like that, you got to be ready for it. Anytime, he could hump back and hit triple digits.”
On the left side of his cap, next to the interlocking KC, Ventura had scrawled in white pen, “R.I.P. O.T. #18.” The message mourned his friend Oscar Taveras, the St. Louis Cardinals outfield prospect who died Sunday in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, where Ventura also grew up.
“From the moment I found out about Oscar, this game was going to be dedicated to him,” Ventura said in Spanish through a translator. “If he was still here, he would be proud.”
The Royals threatened in the first inning but left a run on the field when Lorenzo Cain held up at third base as coach Mike Jirschele waved him home. The second inning brought no such speed bumps, only open road.
Alex Gordon led off the second with a bloop single to center field, the first of many breaks the Royals enjoyed in the inning. Salvador Perez ripped a bullet to right-center field for another single. In the bullpen, Game 4 long relief hero Yusmeiro Petit scrambled to the mound.
Mike Moustakas drove in the night’s first run when he rolled a double down the first base line, just over Brandon Belt’s diving stab. Peavy stemmed the tide when he struck out Omar Infante chasing three breaking balls out of the strike zone.
Peavy moved within range of escaping the inning when Alcides Escobar grounded to first. Belt charged to field the ball, which held Perez at third base. As Belt looked back Perez, second baseman Joe Panik scampered to cover first base. But Belt inexplicably decided to race Escobar to the bag. Escobar slid under Belt’s lunging attempt to tag him and loaded the bases.
“That’s not usually how the play ends up,” Belt said. “I wish I would’ve looked back. But we’ve done that play so many times, and Joe’s usually not there. He just happened to be over there that time. I had to make a pretty quick decision.”
Norichika Aoki submitted the inning’s longest at-bat, flicking pitches foul until he shot a fastball through the left side. Manager Bruce Bochy trudged to the mound and took the ball from Peavy, whose career ERA in the postseason rose to 7.98, a number he can at least counterbalance with the ring he won last October with the Boston Red Sox.
Petit had fired three scoreless innings to stabilize Game 4 for the Giants. In Game 6, Cain greeted him with a flare to right-center that scored two more runs. “The more you see a guy,” Cain said, “the more comfortable you feel off him.” The lead grew to 4-0, the Royals still had two men on base and Eric Homser, the Royals’ cleanup hitter, strode to the plate with a platoon advantage.
Bochy brought the infield in, a sound decision that backfired. Hosmer drove Petit’s 1-2 fastball into the dirt in front of home plate. The ball bounded over Brandon Crawford’s head and bounced on the edge of the infield dirt, in the spot Crawford had occupied seconds earlier.
The ball trickled into left field, and Hosmer hustled into second with a double. The Royals led, 6-0, and Kaufmann Stadium violated a noise ordinance or two.
“It was their day,” Pence said. “It was meant to be seven games. That’s what we’re going to see.”
Billy Butler scalded a double to score Hosmer and finalize the inning’s damage.
The crowd stood all night, roaring and heartened by the certainty they would come back tomorrow. The day had started with hope for the Giants. “You know that today could be the day that you walk away a World Series champion,” Belt said. Wednesday morning, the last day of the baseball season, two teams will know that feeling.
“You just had this weird feeling,” Pence said. “These two teams grinding, so similar, that this was a potential. Here we are.”
Box score: Royals 10, Giants 0
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