October 24, 2014
Tonight had all the makings of a well-scripted saga. A pitcher past his prime gets to fulfill his life long fantasy of pitching in the Fall Classic, in the company of his hometown fans. Unfortunately, the Royals turned Tim Hudson’s World Series debut dream into a nightmare, as they edged the Giants in game three to take a 2-1 series lead.
Hudson’s first pitch was a not so good omen, as he watched Alcides Escobar drill a sinker, that didn’t, into right field for a stand up double. A couple of groundouts by Gordon and Cain brought Escobar home for the Royals first run. Although Hudson’s arm failed him, he made a fine defensive play with his legs by grabbing a high feed from Belt, then stomping on the bag at first to beat Hosmer for the final out.
In the bottom of the inning, 35 year old Jeremy Guthrie, also on the back end of his baseball career, easily put away Blanco and Panik, then got a lotta help from Cain’s remarkable read of Buster Posey’s liner to right.
Hudson seemed headed for more bad news in the top of the second with a lead off single by Moustakas and a walk to Infante. After Perez lined out to left, Panik, Crawford and Belt’s execution of a routine double play bailed out Hudson.
In the Giants bottom of the inning, Guthrie got Panda to fly out on a 3-2 pitch. Pence, with a full count of his own, got an infield hit on a high barehanded throw from Escobar to first, taking Howser off the bag. With Belt at the plate, Pence was caught stealing second, and an opportunity to help Hudson was squandered, when Belt belted a single to center field. Ishikawa looked to even the score with a rope to right but there was another defensive gem from the gait and glove of Lorenzo Cain.
Offensively, for the next few innings, it was all-quiet on the west coast front. Hudson found faith in his sinker, and Guthrie got it done with a steady diet of fastballs, cutters and sliders. Then came the 6th inning; the inning that this postseason, has made grown pitchers cry. Hudson, who was making 39 look like the new 29, gave up a single to Escobar. Then, on the pitch that has helped him and hurt him, he delivered an 89 mph sinker to Alex Gordon, who doubled past Blanco and the Royals were up by 2. With no one ready to bring him relief, Hudson was forced to face Lorenzo Cain, who grounded out to third.
With one out, Javier Lopez replaced Hudson, and had the dubious honor of spending way too much time with Eric Hosmer, who after fouling off a feast of fastballs, ten pitches to be exact, drilled the eleventh up the middle, sending Gordon home to make it a three run lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Giants finally got to Guthrie with a lead off single from Crawford, and a monster double by the, menace off the bench, Michael Morse, that cut the lead to two. A shaky Herrera replaced Guthrie, who immediately walked Blanco on four pitches. A fielder’s choice brought Morse home for the 2nd run, and Sandoval, ending his streak of reaching base in 25 consecutive postseason games, left Blanco hanging at third. And that’s as close as the Giants would come.
The rest of the game, both bullpens were lights out, but tonight Kansas City made a much bigger statement. Not only did they break Tim Hudson’s heart; they also broke Panda’s record and San Francisco’s World Series winning streak. The fact of the matter is, Ned Yost is out managing Bruce Bochy, and by the looks of it, I’m not sure the Royals will get the opportunity to celebrate their World Series victory at home.
And, two very cool side notes. Jeremy Guthrie became the first starting pitcher in the history of the World Series to ever win a game without any strike outs or walks, while relief pitcher Brandon Finnegan made history by pitching in the World Series and College World Series in the same year.