KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Salvador Perez and the pesky Kansas City Royals fought back from a Game 1 flop to beat the San Francisco Giants’ brilliant bullpen and even the World Series.
Perez broke open Game 2 with a two-run double in a five-run sixth inning, and the Royals’ own cast of clutch relievers kept the Giants in check in a 7-2 victory Wednesday night that certainly spiced things up as the Series shifts to San Francisco for the next three games.
Jeremy Guthrie will be on the mound Friday night for the Royals, who had won eight straight playoff games before a 7-1 loss in the opener. Tim Hudson will start for San Francisco.
“We showed them that we have fight in us, and I think they knew that already. But we stepped up big there as a team, and that gave us some confidence,” said Billy Butler, whose RBI single in the sixth inning gave the Royals a 3-2 lead.
Perez followed with a double into the left-field gap, and Omar Infante hit a two-run shot off Hunter Strickland, the fifth home run that he’d allowed to 23 post-season batters.
Strickland appeared to be muttering to himself as he stalked back to the mound, and Perez overheard him. The two exchanged words and players from both dugouts spilled onto the field. More streamed in from the outfield bullpens before order was finally restored.
“He started to look at me, so I asked him like, ’Hey, why you look at me?”’ Perez said.
“So he was telling me, ’Get out of here, whatever.’ So I don’t know. ’You don’t have to treat me like that. Look at Omar. Omar hit a bomb. I didn’t hit a bomb. I hit a double.
“So I don’t know what happened with that guy,” Perez added. “But the last thing, we don’t want to fight on the field. I’m not that kind of person, that kind of player.”
Nevertheless, a series that began with a sleepy blowout had some life.
Young flamethrower Yordano Ventura, with his 100 mph fastball singeing the brims of the Giants’ batting helmets, allowed just two runs while pitching into the sixth inning. The 23-year-old hardly looked like the first rookie to make a World Series start in Royals history, calmly working through a lineup that ravaged staff ace James Shields just 24 hours earlier.
The dynamic trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland did the rest.
Herrera got the final two outs of the sixth to escape a jam, two of his first three pitches clocking 101 mph on the radar gun. He also survived a shaky seventh that included a pair of walks before Davis locked down the eighth, striking out two in a perfect inning.
Greg Holland, who saved each game in the Royals’ sweep of Baltimore in the AL Championship Series, allowed a two-out single to Brandon Crawford before fanning Gregor Blanco to end the game.
“We weren’t taking any chances,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The Giants’ only runs came on a homer by Blanco and a double by Brandon Belt, their streak of seven straight World Series wins ending on a crisp, breezy night.
“For us to leave here with a split, you like to get greedy,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, “but we know it’s going to be a tough series.”
Early on, it looked as if the Giants could be heading back to the Bay Area with a big lead.
The fleet-footed Blanco silenced a rollicking sea of blue, becoming the 10th player to open a World Series game with a home run.
He deposited Ventura’s 98 mph fastball in the bullpen in right field, just his 17th home run in more than 2,300 at-bats.
The crowd, energized from the moment that Hall of Famer George Brett delivered the ceremonial first pitch, was left waiting for something good to happen for the second straight night.
This time, the scrappy Royals gave it to them. ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain stretched a two-out double later in the first, and Eric Hosmer walked on four pitches. Butler, Giants starter Jake Peavy’s long-time nemesis, then bounced a single past the outstretched glove of Crawford at shortstop to knot the game 1-all.
The Royals kept the pressure on in second. Infante doubled over the head of Travis Ishikawa in left field, and Escobar sliced a two-out double down the right-field line to give Kansas City a 2-1 lead, its first in the World Series since Game 7 in 1985.