Gregor Blanco started the game with a whale of an at-bat against Yordano Ventura that ended with a booming home run to right field. Another laugher seemed to be on the horizon, but these Giants will need to win their next three to clinch their first championship at home. Those concerns should be secondary anyway — the Royals are a worthy opponent, and they sent the Giants back to their hotel with a split after a 7-2 victory in Game 2.
The sixth inning was the story, and there was a sense of approaching doom when Jake Peavy, who cruised through innings three through five like the guy we saw through the last seven weeks of the season, gave up a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain and walked Eric Hosmer. Hunter Strickland would go on to become the main story for allowing another gopher ball and showing some hotheaded tendencies, and I wrote about his frightful and damaging postseason, both with his arm and his mouth.
But when Jean Machi came in, this game was effectively over. Machi has looked like we expected him to look when he came up in April of 2013, but he unexpectedly became one of the team’s better relievers in terms of both numbers and durability over the past two seasons. But he has given the Giants nothing in these playoffs, and that gives Bruce Bochy two relievers that he’d rather not use.
That’s including Strickland, not Tim Lincecum. Lincecum came in with the score 7-2 and suddenly became the arm of reason. His velocity was good, the movement was there, and the outs started to pile up. Then Lincecum landed awkwardly on a pitch to Salvador Perez and left the game soon after. Something about a tight back, possibly a hip concern. It doesn’t sound good, and the lone bright spot of this game (besides Blanco’s HR and Pablo Sandoval extending his streak of reaching base in postseason games to 25) was extinguished.
The Giants one a game in Kansas City, which is all one can really expect. But the idea that a loss in the postseason would flatten the Royals looks silly now. We’ve got a series. It’s a series where the Royals’ outfield defense may have been overrated … but dang it, Kansas City’s bullpen sure looks a lot better than San Francisco’s.
So what does Bochy do? Clearly he wanted to save Yusmeiro Petit for Game 3 and 4, in case either Tim Hudson or Ryan Vogelsong pitches like Vogelsong did in Game 4 of the NLCS. One would think Petit’s availability would have the Giants covered in the middle innings for one of those games.
It’s possible that it won’t matter (in a good way). Maybe Hudson and Vogelsong come through, and the Giants can use Petit in innings later than the third through fifth. Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt should be pretty fresh, and Javier Lopez is there to face a lefty or two. But not being able to trust Machi or Strickland, along with tonight’s Lincecum experience (which was like finding a $20 bill on the street and immediately dropping it into a sidewalk grate) is … well, it’s why Bochy gets paid whatever the Giants pay him to figure out these sorts of things.
Then again, the Royals’ middle relief situation looked like a diaper fire after Danny Duffy was called on in the fourth inning of Game 1. The Royals have three really good relievers. The Giants’ top three relievers probably aren’t quite as intimidating, but momentum is tomorrow’s right-handed setup man. A lot of people say that. Baseball people.
— Pretty sure we can blame Monster for everything that happened in Game 2.
— Monster Products (@MonsterProducts) October 22, 2014
— This whole no-extra-base-hits-for-Buster-Posey thing is weird.
— Posey did throw out the Royals’ first attempted base-stealer in the first inning, thanks to a low, accurate throw and Joe Panik’s excellent positioning/tag.
— According to what Bochy said before Game 2, Lincecum missed pregame intros the night before because was puking in the clubhouse. He felt better throughout Game 1 and was available to pitch. I’m going to reserve comment on this one.
— Aaaaaand, of course Lincecum gets injured while pitching for the first time ever on the day I wrote about why Lincecum wasn’t used in Game 1 (in a way that made it sound like he’d probably never pitch in this series — in case you haven’t learned by now, I’m proven incorrect on a daily basis around these parts).
— Joe Buck is kind of a smartass, but it seemed like some legitimate frustration with his broadcast partners came out when he said “shut up” and emphatically told Harold Reynolds to send everyone to break after the final out in the top of the fifth.
— After listening to Buck, Reynolds and Tom Verducci, I’m now convinced that Eric Hosmer is the best player in baseball. I’m easily influenced, though. I recently started leaving my dog home alone every night while I go out and have a couple of Budweisers. Better safe than sorry.