KANSAS CITY -- Now the upstart, unbridled, uninhibited Royals are back in business. They've surged back into the nation's consciousness, evening the World Series at one game each as the stage moves to San Francisco.
The Kansas City club landed a sixth-inning haymaker on the Giants and surged to a 7-2 victory in Game 2 of the 110th Fall Classic on Wednesday night with a blue-hued crowd of 40,446 roaring at Kauffman Stadium.
Billy Butler had a game-tying RBI single in the first and a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth to lead the Royals, while Salvador Perez doubled in two and Omar Infante followed with a two-run homer in the sixth inning as the Royals blew open the game and rebounded from a Game 1 loss.
"We showed them that we have fight in us and I think they knew that already," Butler said. "But we stepped up big there as a team. ... We feel confident going in there 1-1."
The Giants' frustration, at least in the person of rookie pitcher Hunter Strickland, showed through late in the Royals' big eruption. Words were exchanged with Perez and some players emerged from the dugouts and bullpens, but peace was quickly restored.
If the Royals aren't exactly America's sweethearts, they're loved in Kansas City.
"It's crazy out there, our fans were just rabid," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You look up there and I think there's half the crowd that doesn't sit down for the entire game ... It's a fun atmosphere."
The Fall Classic takes Thursday off with Game 3 scheduled on Friday at AT&T Park. FOX's pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. CT, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. CT.
"Every game's huge," said the Royals' Mike Moustakas. "It's the World Series."
Giants starter Jake Peavy seemed to have taken control of a 2-2 game by retiring 10 straight batters going into the sixth inning. Then trouble erupted for him and joy surfaced for the Royals and their Blue Zoo backers.
Lorenzo Cain singled, Eric Hosmer walked and Peavy was lifted for the first of four relievers in the inning. Butler singled in his second run of the game off Jean Machi. Alex Gordon flied out against Javier Lopez, but Perez banged a two-run double into the left-center gap off Strickland.
Infante teed off on a drive into the left-field bullpen, a two-run homer that meant a five-run lead was in place. It was his first blast in 145 postseason at-bats.
"It was great for me because they say I don't do well in the postseason, but this home run is very important for me," Infante said.
As Perez and Infante crossed home plate, Strickland was seen shouting and, sensing a brouhaha, a stream of players headed from the Royals' dugout and the Giants milled around, as well.
"I just said, 'What are you looking at?' I said it a couple times, that's all I said," Perez said.
Strickland explained he was frustrated over giving up five home runs in the postseason.
"My emotions just got the best of me. I'm not too proud of that but it is what it is. I can't take it back," he said.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he'd discuss the matter with Strickland.
"He's an intense kid and it probably got away from him a little bit," Bochy said.
Perez, in victory, portrayed himself as a man of peace.
"I don't want to fight with anybody," Perez said. "That's not professional for me. So forget about it."
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Powerful start: The Giants, who revved up with three first-inning runs in Game 1, wasted no time getting on the board in Game 2. Gregor Blanco lofted Ventura's 3-2 pitch into the right-field bullpen to start the game, the 10th leadoff home run in World Series history.
"That's one of those things where as a manager, that really doesn't bother you," Yost said. "Just hold the fort from that point on, get your rhythm going, get yourself established and then from the second inning roll. And that's exactly what he did."
Ventura lasted through two singles and an out in the sixth. Herrera came in throwing 101-mph fastballs and got two quick outs, then pitched past two walks for a scoreless seventh. Davis struck out two in a perfect eighth and Holland gave up a ninth-inning single, but struck out the side.
Does it feel special for Herrera to be lighting up the radar readings?
"No, I feel like when I was 16 years old, throwing 89. Same thing," he said.
Butler does it: Was Peavy squirming when Butler came to the plate with two out and two on in the bottom of the first? Perhaps not, but Butler certainly had his number, to wit: 14-for-33 (.424), with three homers in the past. Sure enough, Butler drilled a single past shortstop Brandon Crawford, and Lorenzo Cain, on with a double, scored for a 1-1 tie.
"Billy Butler hit that ball and you go back and look and it's about an inch from Craw's glove. It takes some breaks sometimes, too, and we didn't catch many," Peavy said.
When Butler was due up again, with two on and no outs in the sixth, the Giants moved quickly to remove Peavy. Didn't matter -- Butler lined an RBI single off Machi for a 3-2 Royals lead in what ballooned into the decisive inning.
Doubles, then double play: Doubles by Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt gave the Giants a 2-2 tie in the fourth. Then a botched play resulted in a double play. Right fielder Nori Aoki caught Michael Morse's fly and threw in the general direction of third base. Shortstop Alcides Escobar deflected the ball while Belt, reversing direction, scrambled back toward second base. Ventura recovered the ball and fired to Infante in time to nail Belt and end the inning.
Given the string of relatively short outings, the bullpen has been credited with seven of the Royals' nine victories this postseason, including Wednesday night. That matches the 2003 Marlins for the most bullpen victories by one team in a single postseason. Kansas City relievers are a combined 7-0 with a 1.81 ERA this postseason.
The veteran second baseman, Infante, was responsible for two of those extra-base hits, notching a double and a two-run homer that broke the game open in the sixth inning. The homer came in Infante's 145th career postseason at-bat, snapping the second-longest active drought in the Majors. The Cardinals' Jon Jay (189 postseason at-bats without a homer) has the longest such streak.
Good omen for Royals? This is the 57th World Series to be tied at 1. The winner of Game 2 has gone on to win the Series 29 times (51.8 percent.)
The World Series shifts to San Francisco's AT&T Park on Friday for a 7:07 p.m. CT/8:07 ET third game that starts on FOX at 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET. Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will start against Giants right-hander Tim Hudson.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less