* 2B Omar Infante hit a two-run homer off Hunter Strickland and th San Francisco Giants reliever started yelling at himself because he was upset. Sal Perez, who had hit a two-run double two pitches before wondered what went on — as the benches empties and the Royals evened the World Series at 1-1.
By Bob Elliott
KANSAS CITY _ One, two, three, four, five, six.
It went as fast as a picking up a to go order from Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q, Kansas City’s finest.
The San Francisco Giants were losing 3-2 with one out in the bottom of the sixth when manager Bruce Bochy turned to hard-throwing, right-hander Hunter Strickland.
Strickland’s third pitch was an 0-2 curve in the dirt to Sal Perez moving runners up to second and third.
“That didn’t bother me,” said Strickland at his locker after the game. “They already had one runner in scoring position.
Pitch four was a line-drive double to centre on a 97 MPH fastball giving the Royals a 5-2 lead.
And pitch six, a 1-0, 98 MPH fastball was tagged by Omar Infante to left for a two-run homer.
And then all hell broke lose in the midst of a five-run inning as the Royals squared the best-of-seven 110th World Series at 1-1. Game 3 is Friday in San Francisco.
The light hitting Infante, his first homer in 145 post-season at-bats, tossed his bat. It wasn’t Tom Lawless flipping his bat like the night he homered off Minnesota Twins Frank Viola in the World Series and then acted as if it was his 500th … ho hum, another no doubter.
But the bat toss was there.
Perez chugged slowly to the plate.
Strickland walked angrily toward the plate.
“I didn’t notice Perez,” said Strickland, “I was yelling, but I was yelling at myself. I was upset with my own performance.”
Strickland said he was not angry with Infante.
“Perez was yelling at me in Spanish, so I yelled back, but I don’t speak the language, I guess he heard me yelling at myself,” said Strickland. “I’m not proud of what happened. I let me emotions get the best of me.”
It’s the fifth homer Strickland has allowed this post season equalling the post-season record for a reliever set by Chris Narveson with Milwaukee Brewers in 2011.
“I have to do a better job than what I did, I have to learn how to make adjustments,” Strickland said. “I can’t let that happen.”
Plate ump Eric Cooper eventually walked Strickland back to the mound.
“I wasn’t upset at the way they celebrated, it was a matter of miscomunication,” said the reliever.
Does he think manager Bruce Bochy will go to him again?
“He just told me not to worry about it, we’ll get them when we go back to the Bay Area,” said Strickland. “I haven given up four other post-season homers before this.”
Meanwhile, down the hall Perez was telling his version, a different version of the events.
“After I hit the double, I think maybe he liked to lose, you know the hitter like ‘I’m the man’ or something on the mound,” Perez told reporters. “After I hit the double he started looking at me. I wanted to forget about that. We were winning.
“After Omar hit the hot and I get to home plate and he start to look at me.”
And that may have been the first complaint about a slow home run job in Series history — from third to home.
“I asked ‘hey why you look at me?” and he was telling me ‘Get out of here or whatever. I don’t know “You don’t have to treat me like that. Look at Omar. Omar hit a bomb. I didn’t hit a bomb, I hit a double.”
Like most dispute the answer lies somewhere in the middle and will be decided in what is now a best-of-five series with the next three games in San Francisco.
“I don’t know what happened with that guy,” Perez said. “The last thing we don’t want to fight on the field. I’m not that type of person.”
Bochy defended his reliever … sort of.
He’s a really intense kid,” Bochy said. “That’s an area he’s going to have to keep his poise. This kid came up from double-A and he’s a tough kid. He shows his emotions, but it’s an area he has to work on because you’re going to give up a home run once in a while.”
Strickland has allowed four homers this year and last in 59 2/3 innings in 61 games at class-A San Jose and double-A Richmond.
And zero during the regular season in seven innings with the Giants.
And now five in post-season play, including Bryce Harper monster drive.
“Hey, this is the major leagues,” said Strickland.
In Game: Brandon Belt appeared to be a graduate of the Pablo Sandoval base-running school in the fourth. He doubled to right to score Sandoval tying the game 2-2 in the fourth and could have reached third on the throw to the plate. And then the music began. Michael Morse flew to right. Belt tagged, started for third, Nori Aoki’s throw was off line, so Belt headed back, Akoi’s throw went off the glove of shortstop Alcides Escobar and he started out again. When he saw Yordano Ventura backing up the play he retreated but was thrown out. … Five of the first eight Royals hitters reached against Jake Peavy — as five of the first eight Giants hitters reached against James Shields in Game 1 … Buster Posey cut down Escobar, which hurt the Royals, who had two hits and a walk later. Base stealers had an 81% success rate against Peavy from 2004-08, however, from 2010-14 only 56% … Royals DH Billy Butler singled home a run in the first lifting his career average against Peavy to .441 (15-for-34) … Gregor Blanco — 16 home runs in previous 2,359 plate appearances (regular season and post-season combined) — led off against Ventura with a homer to right on the eight pitch of the at-bat. He was the first to lead off a Series game with a homer since Johnny Damon with the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
Re-evaluating deal: They took one step forward when they acquired Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Jake Odorizzi from the Milwaukee Brewers for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt in December of 2010.
And then the Kansas City Royals took another leap to polishing the crown in centre when they sent Baseball America minor league player of the year Will Myers and Odorizzi to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis in a seven-player trade two years later.
Headlines of the Tampa Bay deal were not kind to the Royals:
A heist for T.B., Royals sacrifice future to be mediocre in 2013, A desperate move for a desperate team, A Royal blunder and Myers-for-Shields trade won’t be enough.
Jim Fregosi, Jr. one of Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore top sets of eyes, read the reviews at home in Marietta, Calif.
“People in the game were supportive of the trade, they liked what they saw: a good old-fashioned baseball trade,” said Fregosi, who was involved in evaluating Shields and Davis before Rays general manager Andrew Friedman and Moore shook hands.
Fregosi comes from the excellent evaluating genes. He’s the son of the late Jim Fregosi, former Blue Jays manager, an architect of the Atlanta Braves success before passing Feb. 14.
“A lot of people thought we were giving up on the future, that we were coming off our game plan,” Fregosi said. “It was unfair to Dayton. Dayton had a time line. If you want something good, you have to give something.”
The Royals parted with the best young hitter in the minors in the hope of adding two starting pitchers. Shields worked out, despite his third sub-par start this month in Game 1 of the 110th World Series. The right-hander was 27-17 with a 3.18 ERA in 68 starts, leading the AL wiith 228 2/3 innings pitched in 2013.
Davis made 24 starts going 6-10 with a 5.67 ERA last year before being bumped to the bullpen. Since pitching in relief he’s 11-3 with an 0.99 ERA in 71 outings walking 24 and striking out 116 in 82 innings as the shut-down, set-up man for closer Greg Holland.
“I’ve read we converted Davis,” said Fregosi. “He had pitched out of the pen before and he could still start if the need arose. He’s more valuable on the back end.”
We have reached the point where OPS (on-base plus slugging — which was always Ted Williams’ best indicator of who the best was) has surpassed batting average and RBIs in the eyes of some.
And prospect currency is more valued by some than major leaguers through the excellent job by the highly-respected Baseball America and the Perfect Game scouting service.
“A lot of fans get caught up in prospects rankings, a prospect is still a prospect,” Fregosi said.
The “Who won the trade?” poll asked Dec. 9, 2012 had 83% fans picking the Rays.
This after a tweet from a popular scribe read: “My quick take: This is the worst trade in MLB history unless Davis becomes a good starter, in which case it’s only the second worst.”
Myers won the American League rookie of the year in 2013 hitting .293 with 13 homers, 53 RBIs and an .831 OPS in 88 games. This season, sidelined by injury, he hit .222 with six homers, 35 RBIs and a .614 OPS in 87 games.
Not to say Myers will not be the stud everyone thought he’d be, but at the time of the deal the Royals had stumbled and bumbled through 18 losing seasons in the previous 19.
Fregosi said the Royals thinking two years ago was “who not make the deal?”
“If this was a piece of a puzzle, we’re building and building to win … to get to the World Series,” Fregosi said. “You can’t win if you’re not in.”
With Shields and Davis they have won 86 and 89 games and are in the Series for the first time since 1985.
It’s a good old-fashioned ball trade: good for both clubs. Like when the Blue Jays sent Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff to the San Diego Padres for Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter at the winter meetings in Rosemont, Ill. in 1990.
Good for both teams: all four were in the 1992 all-star game at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.
Yet, it wound up better for one as the Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series in 1992-93 and only one went to Cooperstown.
This one will probably be the same down the road.
The Royals don’t like talking about the past, like the current Blue Jays, but the 1985 Royals lost the first two at Exhibition Stadium and rallied from being 3-1 down to beat the Jays in the ALCS.
He has the look: Hunter Pence just looks like he could star in a movie — maybe as one of the Wet Bandits in Home Alone. Tweeted former Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jason Dickson from Chatham, N.B. “If you told me Hunter Pence has fleas, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Asked if he noticed how he quieted the crowd with his Game 1 homer, Pence answered.
“It was really loud in my head. I say this and truly mean it, sometimes my mind when I’m playing the game or our team is doing something good, it’s like an emptiness. I don’t know what’s going on around me. And a lot of times my family get mad at me. Because if I’m watching TV and really watching, I won’t hear anything that’s said around me. It’s something that I have, kind of a blessing and a curse at home. I get people really angry with me, but on the field it works out good.”
Best of luck: Outstanding ball scribe John Lowe, 55, of the Detroit Free Press has decided to retire and move to Austin, Tex. The man who had a quality career and came up with quality start stat is going out on top.
R.I.P. Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, who wrote about newspapers and sources who are either informed or lie: “We don’t print the truth. We print what we know, what people tell us. So we print lies. The fact is, the truth does emerge. ”