8:07 PM EST, FOX – Line: Kansas City -140
After a Monday to travel, the 2014 World Series shifts back to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City as the Royals attempt to stave off elimination at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, who in turn are on the cusp of their third World Series Championship in five years. In a series that has featured a bevy of twists and turns, the Giants (88-74) can point to Game Four’s furious rally as the turning point in this matchup. Trailing 4-1 in the Fifth Inning, Bruce Bochy’s charges exploded for ten runs over the final five innings, squaring the series at two games apiece, when it looked like they were all but doomed to languish in a 3-1 hole. San Francisco followed that victory with Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA), who dominated the Royals for the second time in less than a week. Bumgarner, who has amassed a 4-1 record with a 1.13 ERA in this postseason, continued to own these Playoffs, allowing just four hits over nine innings, while racking up eight strikeouts and no walks. In fact, his 5-0 Complete Game Shutout was the first such performance since Josh Beckett blanked the Yankees in Game Six of the 2003 Fall Classic.
Getting the nod in this potential clinching contest is Jake Peavy (9-13, 3.73 ERA), who looks to rebound from sustaining a loss in Game Two. Last Wednesday, the 32-year old veteran yielded four runs on six hits over five innings of work, with just one strikeout and a pair of walks. However, he was pulled with the game still tied at two runs apiece and two runners on base, with his successor Jean Machi promptly allowing those two runners to score. Upon arriving mid season via a trade with the Red Sox, Peavy has been an integral part of Bochy’s rotation; in twelve starts with the Giants, he has compiled a 6-4 record with a 2.17 ERA, racking up 58 strikeouts with a 1.04 WHIP. In fact, if Peavy hadn’t been acquired, San Francisco may not have made the Playoffs, as they won eight out of his final nine starts en route to securing the National League’s final Wild Card. Poetically, the twelve-year veteran will have to defeat some demons tonight in the form of Kauffman Stadium, where he has struggled throughout his career; in seven starts at Kansas City, Peavy has been rocked for a 6.42 ERA and 1.697 WHIP, while serving up eight home runs, posting a 1-5 record. In fact, his 1.380 WHIP all-time against the Royals is the second-highest such figure that he has produced against any opponent.
Meanwhile, after getting off to a Major League Record 8-0 start to this postseason, the Royals (89-73) have finally run into adversity in the World Series as they trail three games to two. Apart from completely shutting down against Bumgarner, Ned Yost’s charges have not played bad baseball, evidenced by their convincing victories in Games Two and Three. However, owing a 4-1 lead in the Fifth Inning of Game Five, in a situation where they could have earned a commanding 3-1 lead, will be looked at as the moment this team lost the World Series, if they indeed fall short tonight. Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.71 ERA ) started well enough, taking his leave in the Fifth, after relinquishing three runs on six hits to that point. However, before Yost could get to his dominant triumvirate of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland, the Giants opened up ten runs over the final five innings, with Brandon Finnegan sustaining the brunt of the damage, getting tagged for five runs over the Seventh and Eighth Innings.
So in the hopes of staving off elimination for one more night, Yost will turn to the youngest pitcher in his rotation, Yordano Ventura (14-10, 3.20 ERA), whom started Game Two of this Fall Classic. The hard-throwing rookie has pitched well in his first venture into the Playoffs, allowing just two runs on eight hits over 5.1 innings in last Wednesday’s no-decision. Like his counterpart tonight, Ventura was a huge part of Kansas City’s success towards securing the first of the American League’s two Wild Cards, as his team won thirteen of his final sixteen starts. The 23-year old protege’ of Pedro Martinez has shown ashes of his mentor, averaging a whopping 96.8 miles per hour on his Fastball this season, highest among qualified starters. And if Ventura can indeed give Yost the requisite number of innings, then the manager can in turn give the ball to Herrera, Davis, and Holland, otherwise known in Kansas City as HDH. To say that the Royals’ Bullpen has been dominant may be an understatement; in thirteen postseason contests, Yost’s relievers were the first group in Major League History to open the Playoffs at 7-0 with a 1.81 ERA before the Game Four debacle. Furthermore, Herrera, Davis, and Holland have only given up three runs over 29.1 innings in this postseason.