It was not the San Francisco Giants' night as the World Series returned to Kansas City on Tuesday. The Royals' 10-0 victory forced a Game 7 for the first time since 2011.
Nothing went the Giants' way. Although Jake Peavy did well after being traded to San Francisco at the end of July, he has never pitched well either against the Royals or in the postseason. Tuesday was no exception. After a scoreless first inning, Peavy began the second where the Royals ultimately scored seven runs, and the game was essentially over.
From the beginning of the postseason, Kansas City has endeared itself to baseball fans. At the start of Spring Training, not many people thought the Royals would make the postseason. Oh yes, they showed promise in becoming an excellent young team in 2013 after many years where they struggled to get out of the cellar in the American League Central. However, they were in the same division as the Detroit Tigers, a team that many baseball experts chose to win the World Series.
Although Kansas City finished 2013 strongly, making baseball people believe that someday soon it would go to the playoffs, few thought the team was good enough to make it to the World Series.
The Royals' strengths are pitching and defense. Nowadays in baseball, even though 2014 was the year of the pitcher, not many people value these aspects of the game. But Royals manager Ned Yost did. They also had speed and didn't strike out much. Any time a team can get on base regularly and steal, it will cause havoc for the opposition. Kauffman Stadium is one of the biggest AL ballparks, so having a team hit a lot of home runs there isn't going to happen.
After a slow start, the Royals began believing in themselves in June and began to challenge for the lead in the AL Central. During a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, their defense sparkled, and the Royals used their awesome speed to collect extra-base hits at will. Despite a slump in July, the Royals became one of the elite teams in baseball.
They are young and perhaps had difficulty believing in themselves until the AL Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics. The A's had a historic collapse in August and September despite making some big trades in July. The Athletics had two leads in the Wild Card Game, but they couldn't subdue the Royals' running game.
Playing against the Los Angeles Angels, the Royals ran wild in the AL Division Series and their bullpen performed masterfully against the team with the best record in baseball. Against the Baltimore Orioles, the Royals showed off their superior pitching to quiet the best and most powerful offense in baseball.
On Tuesday night, 23-year-old Yordano Ventura, pitching in tribute to his close friend Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was killed in a car accident on Sunday, was magnificent for seven innings. Although Ventura sometimes had difficulty locating the strike zone, the Giants wasted five walks. He threw many pitches at 100 mph, even at the end of his outing.
Upon their return to Kansas City, the Royals didn't disappoint their loyal fans who had watched the team when it couldn't win many games. During this postseason, the Royals have become America's Cinderella team. It's difficult to root against the Royals when they haven't been to a World Series in 29 years, and they have only one championship in franchise history.
If the Giants want to win Game 7, they must score early and often to subdue the crowd. They hope Tim Hudson, the oldest pitcher ever to start a Game 7 of the World Series, is fantastic. No one would be surprised to see Madison Bumgarner, earning a reputation as a pitcher who performs well under pressure, work in relief. The Royals only need to keep their excited fans in the game and feed off their excitement.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.