KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — In Lorenzo Cain’s view, the Kansas City Royals have a big advantage when it comes to Game 6 of the World Series.
“We’re definitely not facing Bumgarner tomorrow, so that definitely helps,” the AL Championship Series MVP said Monday.
Jake Peavy starts for the Giants on Tuesday night, with San Francisco leading the World Series 3-2 and one win from its third title in five years.
Kansas City turns to a 23-year-old rookie Yordano Ventura in a rematch of Game 2 starters.
The 33-year-old Peavy is seeking his first World Series win — he didn’t get a decision for Boston in Game 3 last year — and is well aware he could get the victory in the clincher.
“I can’t imagine anything being any sweeter than that,” he said. “This is the start that you play your whole career wanting.”
Kansas City is in the same position it was in in 1985, when the Royals sent Charlie Leibrandt to the mound against St. Louis. Kansas City won 2-1 that night on pinch-hitter Dane Iorg’s two-run single in the ninth after a blown call by first base umpire Don Denkinger, and the Royals went on to blow out the Cardinals 11-0 a day later behind Bret Saberhagen for their only title.
In the 41 previous instances the World Series was 2-2 in the best-of-seven format, the Game 5 winner has taken the title 27 times. But eight of the last 10 teams to come home trailing 3-2 swept Games 6 and 7.
“We have a lot of confidence in Ventura. We have confidence that we will win every time he takes the mound,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “We know we can do it. We’re a confident group. But we can’t do anything without winning Game 6. We’re excited to get back home, where we feed off the fans and that energy.”
Ventura, whose fastball averaged 98 mph this season, didn’t get a decision in the second game, allowing two runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings before Royals manager Ned Yost went to his hard-throwing HDH relief trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland in the 7-2 victory.
“His confidence is just staggering,” Yost said. “You walk in that clubhouse, and he looks you square in the eye with that glint that says: ‘I’m ready for this.'”
Peavy, 33, took the loss in Game 2. when he gave up four runs and six hits in five innings-plus.
This is the first World Series in which four of the first five games were decided by five runs or more. The second all-wild card World Series has followed the pattern of the first in 2002. The Giants won the opener on the road, lost the next two games and won two in a row to take a 3-2 lead. San Francisco opened a 5-0 lead in Game 6 at Anaheim but lost 6-5, and the Angels won Game 7 the following night.
Yost hopes history repeats and Ventura is energized by the Kauffman Stadium crowd.
“Trust me, if we’re in this position, I would much rather be here than there with our fans. I think home-field advantage is huge,” he said after the team arrived back home at about 4:30 a.m. “It’s going to be a lot funner going into Game 6 here than it would be in San Francisco, that’s for sure.”
The Giants spent Sunday night at home, chartered with player families on the flight and reached Kansas City about 12½ hour later. With the shift to the AL ballpark, designated hitters return: Billy Butler for the Royals and Michael Morse for the Giants.
San Francisco’s Tim Hudson and Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie would be the likely Game 7 starters if the Series is extended to Wednesday. And lurking is Bumgarner, who pitched a four-hit shutout to win Game 5 on Sunday. Bumgarner, 4-0 in Series play with a record-low 0.29 ERA, could come out of the bullpen on two days’ rest for what would be his first relief appearance since throwing two scoreless innings in Game 6 of the 2010 NL Championship Series.
He wouldn’t estimate how long he could go.
“I’m not a big pitch-count guy,” he said. “So as long as you keep getting outs and you feel good, you should stay out there.”