With the series knotted at 1-1, the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are looking for some sort of edge in Friday night’s Game 3 at AT&T Park.
Thus far neither game has provided very much drama, with each side claiming a victory from solid starting pitching, excellent bullpen work and timely hitting leaving little room for flare in the later innings.
The Giants handily took the first game 7-1 behind starter Madison Bumgarner's three-hit, five-strikeout performance over seven innings and third baseman Pablo Sandoval and right fielder Hunter Pence ripping off two RBI apiece in the heart of the lineup. Bumgarner was then able to hand it off to his bullpen and 23 pitches and two innings later the Giants had snapped Kansas City’s undefeated postseason run.
In Game 2, the Royals bounced back 7-2 with a five-run sixth inning, and a 3 2/3 innings of work from a bullpen that’s been hugely reliable throughout the postseason. K.C.’s pen has a 1.86 ERA with 12 strikeouts and allowed only five hits in 9 2/3 inning in the last two games.
In contrast, the Royals are hitting .278 against the Giants pen, which has allowed three runs and five hits in only five innings of relief. However, with Tim Lincecum reportedly ready to return from a back injury, the Giants pen could turn things around.
The Royals offense, stymied in the opener, came alive behind the bats of catcher Salvador Perez and designated hitter Billy Butler, each knocking in two runs in Game 2. Second baseman Omar Infante’s 406-foot blast to left field would cap the scoring, a highly unusual occurrence for a Royals team that’s relied on their speed all season long. K.C.’s yet to swipe a single base after racking up 13 in the first three rounds of the postseason.
Limiting the Royals' speed will next fall to San Francisco veteran starter Tim Hudson, who’s yet to claim a decision in two starts this postseason despite the Giants winning both games. He’s totaled 13 strikeouts and hasn’t walked a single batter for a 3.29 ERA thus far. Hudson will have the benefit of a home crowd behind him, with the Giants 45-36 at AT&T Park during the regular season and 4-1 in the playoffs, but he’s yet to win a postseason start since 2001.
Kansas City righty Jeremy Guthrie has only made one postseason appearance in his career, when he came on in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in a 2-1 victory for the Royals. The 35-year-old’s performance could be compared to almost any of Bumgarner’s wins, giving up three hits and one earned run with 63 of his 94 pitches good for strikes in five innings.
Like Hudson enjoying the comfort of home, Guthrie and the rest of the Royals have felt comfortable on the road all season long. The Royals owned the second best road record in the majors at 47-34 and are a perfect 4-0 in the postseason.
Start Time: 8:07 p.m. EST
TV Channel: FOX
Live Online Stream Info: Watch at MLB.TV here
Betting Odds: San Francisco -1.5
Over/Under: 7 runs
Prediction: Kansas City 5, San Francisco 3