Royals take Game 3 in typical fashion: Defense, clutch hitting and a bulletproof bullpen
SAN FRANCISCO -- This World Series won't end in San Francisco -- unless the Royals finish off the Giants in five.
The Royals nailed down Game 3 of the Series in typical fashion -- a hair-raising, tense 3-2 win highlighted by terrific defense early, some clutch hitting, a tidy job by their starter and another incredible job by the bullpen.
The Royals now lead the Series 2-1 and even if the Giants take the next two, the Royals would get a chance to win it at home in Kansas City.
Jeremy Guthrie gave the Royals five shutout innings before faltering in the sixth with a 3-0 lead. But the bullpen came in and battled the Giants, getting the 12 final outs without relinquishing the edge.
-- The "at-bat." Eric Hosmer, celebrating his 25th birthday, delivered one of the best at-bats of the entire postseason in the sixth inning against reliever Javier Lopez. With Alex Gordon on second base and two out, Hosmer worked Lopez for 10 pitches, fouling off five pitches in the process. Then on pitch No. 11, Hoz smashed a curveball up the middle for a base hit, and Gordon scored easily to give the Royals a 3-0 lead.
-- Gordon's day. Gordon has been slumping throughout the playoffs. But he has delivered some big hits -- he has 11 RBI, after all. In the first inning, after manager Ned Yost moved him up to the No. 2 spot, Gordon did his job, moving Alcides Escobar to third after Esky had opened the game with a double. (He scored on a Lorenzo Cain groundout.) Then after Esky singled with one out in the sixth, Gordon belted a towering drive to right-center that went for an RBI double. Nice to see Gordo back.
-- Finnegan's fire. Royals rookie Brandon Finnegan now has pitched in two World Series this year -- the College World Series and the Major League World Series. Finnegan came in, on the road, with the lead run at the plate in the seventh inning. And Finnegan, just 21, came through under pressure. He got pinch-hitter Juan Perez to fly out to left, then struck out Brandon Crawford on a 3-2 wipeout slider. Nice.
-- Unlucky. The Royals had a great chance to break the game open in the second inning after Mike Moustakas singled and Omar Infante walked. Sal Perez came up against Tim Hudson and smoked a liner to left, where Travis Ishikawa seemed to get fooled and took an odd angle. But Ishikawa was able to reach back to his right as he was coming in and made the catch. If that ball had been another inch toward the foul line, the Royals would have gotten two runs. Instead, Jarrod Dyson followed with a 4-6-3 double-play grounder.
-- 1-2 pitch to Morse. Guthrie really thought he got Giants pinch-hitter Michael Morse out in the sixth. With a runner on first, Guthrie got ahead of Morse 1-2 (one of the fouls went soaring into the upper deck in left, but foul). Then Guthrie threw a great pitch -- a slider on the back corner. But home-plate umpire Jim Reynolds, who had called that pitch a strike all night, suddenly froze and called it a ball. Morse then doubled in a run and opened the door for the Giants' two-run inning.
-- Herrera's at-bat. OK, this is a REAL reach, but just had to mention Kelvin Herrera's at-bat in the seventh. Yost obviously was conceding the third out by not pinch-hitting for Herrera, whom Yost wanted to pitch the bottom of the inning. And Herrera was almost comical taking swings against Sergio Romo and his wipeout slider. At one point Herrera almost fell out of the box backward trying to swing. You know his teammates will give him good-natured grief over the next 24 hours.