SF Giants Prospects

San Francisco Giants storm back from 3-run deficit-take Game Four from Royals

By Mark ONeill
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The San Francisco Giants got down, 4-1, early, fought back to tie the game in the fifth inning, and then blew it open in the sixth and the seventh, defeating the Kansas City Royals, 11-4, in Game Four of the 2014 World Series. Hunter Pence, with three hits and three RBI’s, and Pablo Sandoval, with two crucial singles, including the one that broke the 4-4 tie, in the sixth inning, were only two of the heros, as every position player got at least one hit.

Just as the Giants could not get out of the sixth, the past two games, now it was Ned Yost’s turn to spin dials endlessly, only to see all of his plans shot down in flames, by the suddenly torrid Giants bats. In all, they had sixteen hits, only three of them for extra base hits, all doubles.

Four Kansas City relievers gave up a total of eight runs, on nine hits, with three walks thrown in.

The Giants scored ten unanswered runs.

It was the reverse of what Giants fans have seen in Games Two and Three, and gives them hope that with

Madison Bumgarner

going Sunday night, the Giants can take a three-games-to-two lead, going back to Kansas City.

To a certain extent, Game Four of the 2014 world Series was a must-win for the San Francisco Giants, because going down, three games to one, is almost certain death, the last team to have successfully extricated itself from that deep of a hole, having been the Kansas City Royals, back in 1985.

Sep 15, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong did not make it through the third inning. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A lot was riding on the shoulders of Ryan Vogelsong, especially in light of the swirling discussion centering on whether or not Madison Bumgarner should have started Saturday night, on three days’ rest. However, a lot was riding on the Giants bats, also, the bats which had been ominously silent the past two games.

The Giants were able to strike first. Jason Vargas got off to a rough start, throwing 27 pitches in the first inning, while walking two, and throwing a wild pitch, but he got out of it cheaply enough, with one earned run, on no hits. The Giants never got a ball out of the infield.

Gregor Blanco led off the game by drawing a six-pitch walk, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Joe Panik popped up to Mike Moustakas, half-way between third and home plate, Blanco stole third base, and Buster Posey followed with an eight-pitch walk, putting runners on the corners, with one out.

Hunter Pence then followed with a grounder to the left side, scoring Blanco from third base, only because Pence beat the relay from Omar Infante at second, to Eric Hosmer at first. Small ball only works if everyone is on board.

Without benefit of a hit, the Giants led off the game with a critically important run, forged with two walks, a wild pitch, a stolen base, and the hustle of the guy the Giants always count on to do exactly that, Hunter Pence. The lead lasted all of one inning, until the Royals batted in the third.

Having looked good the first two innings, Vogelsong got a couple of outs sandwiched around a single to center field by Alcides Escobar, to lead off the top of the third inning, and then the Royals proceeded to two-out-hit the Giants to death, scoring three runs on four singles, two of them of the infield variety, and a pair of walks, to end the third inning ahead of the Giants, 4-1.

After surrendering an infield single to Lorenzo Cain, another to Eric Hosmer (RBI), a four-pitch walk to Mike Moustakas, a single to center field to Omar Infante (2 RBI’s) and finally another single to center field by Salvador Perez, Vogelsong was removed by Bruce Bochy, for Jean Machi. Not having had the greatest success in the postseason, Machi walked Jarrod Dyson, to load the bases, and then retired Vargas, the pitcher’s second out of the third inning, on a called third strike.

To their credit, the Giants came right back in the bottom of the third, trimming the Royals’ lead to two runs, when Matt Duffy led off with a pinch-hit single to left field, his first postseason base hit, and Blanco advanced him to second, with a grounder to the right side.

After Panik popped out to left field, Buster Posey singled into left field, and Duffy raced home with the Giants’ second run of the game. Though Hunter Pence followed with a single into left field, Pablo Sandoval struck out for the second time, now having stranded three runners on the bases, in his first two at-bats.

Oct 15, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit (52) pitches during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the 2014 NLCS playoff baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Yusmeiro Petit began his outing by pitching a ten-pitch fourth inning, retiring the top of the order. Furthermore, when the Giants came to bat in the bottom of the inning, Petit was able to extend the inning by singling softly to center field, with Juan Perez already on base, and two outs.

Yusmeiro Petit retired the top of the order on ten pitches, when he came on in the fourth.

He died on first, when Blanco popped out to shortstop to end the inning. Petit’s hit was the first by a relief pitcher in a world series, since 1993, when

Al Leiter

of the Toronto Blue Jays, doubled in Game Three.

The Royals threatened in the top of the fifth, when Eric Hosmer led off the inning with a double right down the right field line, but two infield popups and a swinging strikeout, got Petit out of the inning, and onto the bottom of the fifth.

Joe Panik, batting .154 entering the game, and having already popped up twice, hammered Vargas’ third pitch of the fifth inning, into the right-center field gap, that Cain made a great play on to cut off, and limit Panik to a double. The double ended Jason Vargas’ outing, and brought the bullpen into the picture.

Jason Frasor came in to face Buster Posey, who had already knocked in the Giants’ second run in the third inning, and Posey grounded to the right side, moving Panik to third base, bringing up Hunter Pence, probably the one Giant that fans were certain could get Panik home from third, with only one out.

Pence came through, singling to center field, scoring Panik from third, and giving Frasor the hook. Danny Duffy, a lefty, came in to face Pablo Sandoval, and almost hit the Panda with his first pitch. With the crowd chanting, “Let’s go Pablo,” Sandoval fouled the next pitch off, and then singled into left-center, moving Pence to third, with still only one out.

Brandon Belt drew a walk, and Juan Perez, 1-18 during the regular season, with runners in scoring position, hit a blooper into center field, that Jarrod Dyson made as fine a clutch play as one could ever have made, under the circumstances, and Pence scampered home from third, giving Perez the tying RBI in the game.

A lot of base runners might have come part way down the third-base line, expecting the ball to get through, but Pence doubled back to tag, figuring he would score no matter what the ball did. When Dyson made his diving, tumbling catch, the center fielder opted to throw the ball back into second base, trying to get Sandoval scrambling back to the bag. Crawford took a called third strike to end the inning.

Again, the Royals got their leadoff runner on base when Dyson, fresh off his spectacular catch in the bottom of the fifth, led off the sixth with a single to right, but Petit got Nori Aoki, pinch-hitting for Danny Duffy, to hit a sharp grounder to Belt at first, who threw on to Crawford to get the first out, and then took the return throw, getting the speedy Aoki by better than two full strides.

Escobar popped up to shallow left field to end the third inning of relief by Petit, who needed 33 pitches to get the job done, an average of eleven pitches per inning. With the sixth inning having been the problematic one the past two games, having Petit to bridge that frame, was huge.

Joaquin Arias became the third hitter in the number nine spot in the order, to single in the game, the second to lead off an inning. After two bunt attempts, Blanco lined a single just over the glove of Escobar, into left field, Arias stopping at second. While Panik was batting, Arias strayed off of second, drawing a throw, and though he was called safe, Ned Yost challenged the call.

While the umpires in New York were reviewing the call, a huge roar went up from the AT&T Park crowd, as a replay showed on the big screen that left the call no doubt in the minds of the fans. When the call was upheld, moments later, the crowd roared again, and Panik came to the plate.

He laid down a perfect bunt and Arias and Blanco advanced to second and third, to be joined on the bases by Posey, one intentional walk later. Pence then hit a sharp grounder to Escobar at short, and he came home to get Arias in a force at the plate.

Sandoval came to the plate and hit the first pitch he saw, one at least six inches off the outside part of the plate, over  Infante’s glove, and Blanco and Posey both scored. Belt followed with a single up the middle, knocking in Pence, and the Giants led 7-4.

Immediately afterwards, when Jeremy Affeldt came in to pitch to Salvador Perez, Perez hit a sinking drive to left, that Juan Perez made a fine catch on, and moments later Dyson hit a bullet to Sandoval that he caught on the line, moving to his right, and bringing his glove-hand across his body, to back-hand the hard-hit drive. After Affeldt slipped, trying to field Hosmer’s swinging bunt, allowing him to reach first base, Moustakas grounded into shallow right field, into the defense for the third out of the inning.

In the seventh, the Giants hammered out four more hits, drew two walks, and scored four more runs, to take a seven-run lead. It was a vulgar display of power, off of the vaunted Royals bullpen. Brandon Finnegan, the wunderkind who also starred in the College World Series this year, was knocked around for five earned runs, on five hits, with two walks, in one inning of work.

Blanco had two hits, scored three runs and drew a walk, while Panik hit two of the Giants’ three doubles, and laid down the perfect bunt in the sixth inning. Posey had an RBI single in the third, drew two walks, and scored a run, while Pence had three hits, scored twice and knocked in two.

Sandoval singled twice, one of them knocking in the two tie-breaking runs, and making the score 6-4. Belt singled in the seventh run of the game, while also drawing two walks, and Perez added a single and the tying run in the fifth. Crawford had a single to lead off the seventh inning uprising, and the number nine spot in the order was successful getting on base four consecutive times, each one a different player’s effort.

Sergio Romo pitched the eighth inning for the Giants, while Hunter Strickland pitched the ninth, doing so with no more drama than an Alex Gordon double, which resulted in nothing.

It was a must-win game with an improbable come-from-behind effort, and it tied the World Series at two games apiece. Tomorrow will pit Bumgarner against James Shields, in a rematch of Game One.

The winner of Game Five will have the upper hand in winning the World Series. Madison Bumgarner gives the Giants a pretty good chance.

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