Giants’ bullpen melts down in 7-2 loss to Royals
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — Giants manager Bruce Bochy signaled to his bullpen and got no relief. Over and over.
While the Kansas City Royals showed off their late-inning heat, San Francisco’s relievers melted down.
Given a sixth-inning tie to preserve, Jean Machi allowed Billy Butler’s go-ahead single. Rookie Hunter Strickland then allowed Salvador Perez’s two-run double and Omar Infante’s two-run homer in the Giants’ 7-2 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday night, which tied the World Series at one game apiece.
The lasting image of the evening for the Giants was of Strickland shouting and getting into a confrontation with Perez, then getting removed from the game.
San Francisco’s bullpen had the fifth-best ERA in the majors during the regular season at 3.01, while Kansas City was 10th at 3.30. And while Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo are among the seven players who have played in all three of the Giants’ postseason runs since 2010, there have been signs of unsteadiness.
Jake Peavy had retired 10 in a row before Lorenzo Cain’s soft single to center leading off the sixth. Peavy walked Eric Hosmer before Machi came in, fell behind Butler 2-0 and allowed a go-ahead single to left.
Lopez retired Alex Gordon on a flyout, and Bochy brought in Strickland, who gave up Bryce Harper’s third-deck home run in the NL Division Series opener at Washington and a splash shot to Harper that landed between kayaks in McCovey Cove during Game 4. Harper shouted at Strickland that afternoon. This time, the pitcher did the yelling.
He threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third, then one pitch later threw a 97 mph fastball that Perez sent to the wall in left-center on three hops.
Two pitches later, Infante deposited a 98 mph fastball into the left-field bullpen. It was the fifth home run Strickland has served up this postseason.
Strickland appeared to be shouting at himself as Perez neared the plate. Words were exchanged, and the benches emptied. No punches were thrown.
By that time, the game had gotten away from San Francisco, along with the chance to become the first World Series team since the 1999 New York Yankees to open with a pair of road wins.
Tim Lincecum — remember him? — even got in the game in the seventh and left with an injury in the eighth. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was demoted to the bullpen in August because of ineffectiveness and hadn’t pitched since the regular-season finale on Sept. 28.
Unlike two years ago against Detroit, the Giants won’t sweep.
Now the Series is even as San Francisco returns home for the weekend.