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  • Sunday, October 26, 2014
    Giants erase deficit, tie World Series
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Turns out, the San Francisco Giants have a bullpen, too.

    • Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit stalled the Kansas City Royals with three shutout innings of relief and the Giants rallied from behind with 10 consecutive Saturday night en route to an 11-4 victory in Game 4 of the World Series.

      The comeback from a 4-1 deficit allowed the Giants to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2, with Game 5 scheduled for Sunday night in San Francisco. Royals right-hander James Shields will oppose Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner in a rematch of Game 1, won 7-1 by the Giants in Kansas City.

      "We got our tails whipped today, but it's Game 4 of the World Series," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We're tied 2-2. How much more fun can that be? This is a phenomenal series."

      The Royals appeared well on their way to a third consecutive win and a decisive series lead when they knocked Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong from the game in a four-run third inning that gave the visitors a 4-1 lead.

      But Petit, pitching for the first time in the series, faced only 10 batters in holding the Royals at bay in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, giving the Giants a chance to take charge of the game.

      "He gave us exactly what we needed," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Petit. "He held them there. He gave us a chance to come back."

      Petit, who was promoted to the Giants' starting rotation in the second half of the regular season, has now pitched 12 consecutive scoreless innings of relief in the postseason during three appearances.

      "I'm ready anytime," Petit said. "So if Bochy gives me a chance, whatever he wants. I'm ready for anything in the middle of the game."

      San Francisco got one run back in the bottom of the third inning, tied the score with two in the fifth and forged into the lead for good with a three-run sixth that featured a two-out, two-run hit by third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

      Pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias got the tiebreaking uprising going with a single off the fourth Royals pitcher, lefty Brandon Finnegan.

      The Giants went on to load the bases with one out before Finnegan got Giants right fielder Hunter Pence to ground to shortstop, with the Royals getting a forceout at the plate for the second out.

      But Sandoval, batting right-handed against the lefty, then lined the first pitch he saw into center field, scoring Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey with the go-ahead runs.

      "Clutch hitter," Yost said of Sandoval. "I thought we had the situation right there in the palm of our hand. We all know the difference between (his) right- and left-handed averages. He was just clutch right there."

      Bochy agreed.

      "He's been swinging the bat better from the right side," he observed. "He really came through and delivered for us in a big way."

      First baseman Brandon Belt followed with the Giants' fourth hit of the inning, a single to center that scored Pence to increase the lead to 7-4.

      The Giants broke the game open against Royals lefty Tim Collins in the seventh, scoring four times. Second baseman Joe Panik had a two-run double and Pence his third RBI of the night on a double to highlight the inning.

      Petit, who allowed two hits in his three innings, got the win. Finnegan took the loss.

      "Great game tonight," Bochy said. "You get down against this club and that bullpen, you have your work cut out. But these guys didn't stop fighting."

      Neither starting pitcher -- Royals left-hander Jason Vargas and Vogelsong -- factored in the decision.

      Vogelsong hurt his own cause when he was a step late covering first base on a two-out ground ball by Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer in the third inning. That allowed left fielder Alex Gordon to score Kansas City's first run of the night and tie the score at 1.

      The Giants starter then walked third baseman Mike Moustakas to load the bases, and the Royals went on to score three more on a two-run single by second baseman Omar Infante and a run-scoring hit by catcher Salvador Perez.

      Vogelsong was pulled at that point, having allowed four runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out two.

      Pence finished with three of the Giants' 16 hits. Blanco, who scored three times, Panik and Sandoval added two hits apiece.

      Hosmer and Perez had three hits each for the Royals, who totaled 12.

      After scoring single runs in the first and third innings, the Giants sent Vargas to the showers and tied the score at 4-all in the fifth. Pence singled off reliever Jason Frazor for his second RBI of the game, scoring Panik. Left fielder Juan Perez provided the tying RBI with a sacrifice fly off left-hander Matt Duffy, a ball on which Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson made a diving catch.

      Vargas pitched four-plus innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He walked two and struck out three.

      NOTES: The World Series is tied at 2-2 for the 44th time overall and the third time in the last four years. ... The Giants' bullpen has a 1.08 ERA in its last seven postseason games. ... The Giants got three hits, a walk and two runs scored out of the No. 9 slot in their lineup. Winning pitcher RHP Yusmeiro Petit and pinch-hitters INF Matt Duffy and INF Joaquin Arias had the hits. ... Game 4 began among veiled -- and mostly good-natured -- accusations by the Royals that the Giants tampered with the basepaths in Game 3 on Friday. "I thought it was a little extra wet around first (base)," said Royals manager Ned Yost, who then joked, "Maybe the groundskeeper just was looking at all the Royals fans up in the corner (of the stadium) and just forgot (to turn off the water)." ... While acknowledging he'd heard others say the basepaths were wet, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "I didn't say anything about the infield or do something. I'm being honest." ... Coincidentally, several hours of rain Saturday morning left the outfield wet for Game 4. The infield was covered with a tarp during the rain. ... Before Saturday's game, the Angels' Mike Trout and Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton were announced as winners of the Hank Aaron Award, given annually by Major League Baseball to the season's best offensive performer in each league.

  • Sunday, October 26, 2014
    World Series: 5 things we know entering Game 5
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Giants evened the World Series at two games apiece with an 11-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 on Saturday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

    • Right fielder Hunter Pence had three hits and drove in three runs and second baseman Joe Panik and third baseman Pablo Sandoval each had two hits and two RBIs for the Giants.

      Here are five things we know Game 5 going into Sunday night with left-hander Madison Bumgarner starting for the Giants against right-hander James Shields in a rematch of Game 1, won 7-1 by San Francisco.

      5. Shields will almost certainly be making his last start for the Royals. The right-hander can become a free agent at the end of the season and figures to land a lucrative contract as the third-best starter on the market after Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer and Oakland left-hander Jon Lester. Shields has gone 1-1 with a 7.11 ERA in four starts this postseason but believes he is ready to live up to his "Big Games James" nickname in his likely swan song after working out some mechanical flaws in his delivery with pitching coach Dave Eiland between starts.

      4. Bumgarner will start Game 5 with four days off between starts after manager Bruce Bochy toyed with the idea of pitching the left-hander on short rest in Game 4. Bumgarner, 25, has been outstanding in this postseason, going 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA in five starts. He has also logged 256 innings this year --- 217 1/3 in the regular season and 38 2/3 in the postseason --- but says he is not feeling fatigued. His postseason numbers certainly bear that out and Bochy says the innings total is not a concern to him or pitching coach Dave Righetti.

      3. Bochy will stick with his plan of starting right-hander Jake Peavy in Game 6 and right-hander Tim Hudson in a potential Game 7, both at Kansas City. Bochy likes the experience both pitchers bring. The 33-year-old Peavy is a 13-year veteran and Hudson, 39, is in his 16th season. They have taken the two Giants losses in the series, though, as Peavy gave up four runs in five innings in Game 2 and Hudson allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings in Game 3. Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, who has pitched 12 scoreless postseason innings, will be ready to work in long relief.

      2. Bochy will not hesitate to bring Petit into the game early as the journeyman has been outstanding throughout the postseason. That comes after a solid regular season as a swingman when he went 5-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 39 games, including 12 starts. Petit retired 46 straight batters during one stretch in August, breaking the major league record set by left-hander Mark Buerhle in 2009 while pitching for the Chicago White Sox. Some analysts questioned why the Giants did not start Petit in Game 4 rather than right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings.

      1. The Royals still seemingly have a bit of the upper hand, even if they figure to be the underdogs in Game 5 against Bumgarner. Game 6 and a potential Game 7 will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Royals didn’t have to burn any of their top relievers in Game 4. Setup men Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland did not pitch. Asked after the game, both Bochy and Royals manager Ned Yost said there is a feeling the World Series is heading for a Game 7 for the first time since 2011.

  • Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Report: Martinez, Kapler among Rays' candidates
    By The Sports Xchange

    Potential candidates to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays include current bench coach Dave Martinez and former player Gabe Kapler, according to the Tampa Bay Tribune.

    • Maddon surprisingly opted out of his contract Friday and left the organization.

      Martinez could be the odds-on favorite to become manager as he worked alongside Maddon for seven years. He has interviewed for other managerial jobs in the past.

      Kapler, a former Ray, could also be in the mix. While he lacks major-league coaching experience, he has contributed to the Rays as a part-time consultant and briefly managed at the Single-A level in the Boston Red Sox organization.

      The Tribune also listed Chicago White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, former Texas Rangers bench coach and interim manager Tim Bogar and Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo as potential candidates.

      Montoyo has managed the Rays' Triple-A affiliate for eight years.

  • Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Lineup tweaks pay dividends for Royals
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN FRANCISCO -- The Kansas City Royals might have pounded their way to a World Series Game 2 victory in Kansas City by scoring seven runs Wednesday night.

    • But manager Ned Yost took the field for the start of a three-game sequence in San Francisco with a totally different mind-set Friday.

      Yost made several lineup changes for Game 3, including two key moves with maximum defense in mind.

      First off, as expected, Yost pulled designated hitter Billy Butler completely out of the starting lineup rather than force him into the uncomfortable position of playing first base or in the outfield at spacious AT&T Park.

      Yost also benched his regular right fielder, Nori Aoki, in favor of the more defensively gifted Jarrod Dyson. Fearing the unusual dimensions of the AT&T outfield, Yost started Dyson in center field, while moving Lorenzo Cain to right.

      "With this outfield," Yost explained, "we knew that we had to put our best defense out there."

      The strategy paid immediate dividends when Cain made a pair of sliding catches in the first two innings, including an inning-ender on Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa with a runner aboard in the second.

  • Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Giants bullpen continues to struggle
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN FRANCISCO -- The sad state of the San Francisco Giants' middle relief is such that, amid a two-run uprising in the sixth inning by the Kansas City Royals in World Series Game 3 on Friday night, AT&T Park fans applauded the appearance of right-hander Tim Lincecum in the bullpen.

    • Yes, the same Lincecum who was demoted from the starting rotation during the regular season, then almost left off the postseason roster entirely.

      Alas, Lincecum recorded five consecutive generally meaningless outs in a blowout loss in Game 2. That's all it takes these days to climb the Giants' bullpen ladder.

      Lincecum underwent an MRI on Thursday after straining his back while facing a sixth batter in Game 2. No damage was detected, which immediately put the former two-time Cy Young Award winner on call for Game 3.

      Having seen right-handers Jean Machi and Hunter Strickland struggle big-time in the postseason, Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the media that Lincecum would be a serious option moving forward if he were to need a bridge between a starter and his late-innings bullpen crew of left-hander Jeremy Affeldt and righties Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.

      "I've thought about it a lot," Bochy said before Game 3 when asked about his middle-innings options. "(Yusmeiro) Petit, Timmy ...

      "There's got to be a little sense of comfort for Timmy and us, the fact that he's had some work. So you wouldn't feel bad about putting him in a high-stress situation."

      Lincecum never entered the Giants' 3-2 loss.

  • Saturday, October 25, 2014
    World Series: 5 things we know entering Game 4
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Kansas City Royals took a two games-to-one lead in the World Series on Friday night with a 3-2 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

    • Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie pitched into the sixth inning before left-hander Brandon Finnegan and right-handers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined for four hitless innings of relief. Leadoff-hitting shortstop Alcides Escobar had two hits and two runs scored.

      Here are five things we know about the World Series going into Game 4 on Saturday night when Kansas City left-hander Jason Vargas faces San Francisco right-hander Ryan Vogelsong.

      --5. Vargas will look to continue his postseason surge. He is 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts in October after going 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last four regular-season season. Manager Ned Yost was criticized for keeping Vargas in the rotation and moving left-hander Danny Duffy to the bullpen for the postseason. Vargas, though, has justified his manager's faith. He also had a decent start against the Giants on Aug. 8 when he allowed two runs in five innings while scattering nine hits. He had five strikeouts and no walks.

      --4. The Royals will use their revamped outfield alignment form Game 3 again in Game 4. Although Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City has more square footage than any other major league ballpark, Yost did some reconfiguring in San Francisco because playing the outfield at AT&T Park can be tricky with its asymmetrical design and windy conditions. Speedster Jarrod Dyson got his first start of the postseason in center field and Lorenzo Cain moved from center field to right field while right fielder Nori Aoki took a seat on the bench. Cain made two outstanding catches, plays Aoki likely wouldn't have made.

      --3. Vogelsong will try to control the Royals' running game. Vogelsong had trouble holding runners earlier in his career but has gotten better with experience. Opponents have been successful on just 27 of 46 stolen base attempts --- 59 percent --- against him in the last three seasons. Vogelsong also picked off a runner this season for just the third time in his 10 seasons. Manager Bruce Bochy said before the game that there was some thought to bringing ace Madison Bumgarner, who won Game 1, back on short rest for Game 4 but then said after the game that Vogelsong would start on Saturday night.

      --2. Even though he is swinging a hot bat, Giants right-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse will be on the bench in Game 4 against the lefty Vargas. Bochy said he would start Juan Perez in left field. Morse had an RBI double in Game 3 and is 5-for-13 (.385) in the postseason. However, Morse has played in left field for just three innings since Aug. 26 because of a strained oblique muscle and Perez is a much better defensive player.

      --1. The Giants haven't come close to figuring out the Royals' late-inning trio of relief pitchers as they have combined for one-hit ball in seven scoreless innings. Holland has pitched two innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. Davis has not allowed a baserunner in his two innings and struck out four of the six batters he has faced. Righty-hander Kelvin Herrera has pitched three in his two outings, but his control has been spotty with four walks. He has struck out two. Yost said he would shy away from using Herrera for more than a batter or two in Game 4 after he threw a combined 59 pitches in the last two games.

  • Saturday, October 25, 2014
    Royals take control with win in San Francisco
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN FRANCISCO -- When it came time to consider ending right-hander Jeremy Guthrie's brilliant effort Friday night, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost said it was an easy decision.

    • After all, he could think of four great reasons to do it.

      Yost went to his bullpen two batters into the sixth inning, and his fearsome foursome responded with hitless relief the rest of the way, lifting the Royals into 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants to take a 2-1 lead in the World Series after Game 3 on Friday.

      "My mind-set is: I'm not getting beaten in the sixth inning with the bullpen that I've got," Yost said. "I wasn't going to take any chances. It's a big game."

      Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar doubled and scored in the first inning, then singled with one out in a two-run sixth that gave the Kansas City pitching staff just enough of a cushion.

      Taking over two batters into the sixth after the Giants finally cracked Guthrie, right-hander Kelvin Herrera, lefty Brandon Finnegan, and righties Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined to squelched a San Francisco comeback bid with near-perfect relief.

      "When you have great defense and you have lock-down bullpen pitching, you have a tendency to be in those types of games," Guthrie noted. "Fortunately for us right now, we've got guys throwing the ball great in the back end of the bullpen, and we're able to hold on to these small leads."

      Holland was credited with the save after negotiating the heart of the Giants' order -- catcher Buster Posey, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and right fielder Hunter Pence -- in 1-2-3 fashion in the bottom of the ninth.

      The save was Holland's seventh this postseason, tying the all-time record.

      Guthrie got the win while Giants starter Tim Hudson took the loss.

      After the Royals took a 1-0 lead three batters into the game, there was no further scoring until Kansas City ended Hudson's night in the top of the sixth.

      Escobar, who scored the game's first run after a game-opening double, opened the decisive two-run sixth with a single. He came all the way around to score when left fielder Alex Gordon, moved up to second in Yost's new-look lineup, blasted a double to the fence in center field.

      "It took a while, but it felt good," Gordon said of his first World Series hit. "With Esky on base, I'm just trying to get a good pitch to hit, knowing if I hit it in the gap, with Esky's speed, he's more than likely to score."

      Hudson gave way to left-hander Javier Lopez one out later, and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer greeted the reliever with an RBI single to make it 3-0.

      Making the first World Series start of his career at age 39, Hudson gave up four hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out two.

      "I thought he threw the ball well. Very well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy praised. "He gave us what we were hoping and a chance to win, and that's all you can ask for from your starters."

      Down 3-0, the Giants finally solved Guthrie in the bottom of the sixth, and Yost was quick to go to his bullpen.

      Shortstop Brandon Crawford led off the sixth with a single and scored when pinch-hitter Michael Morse doubled down the left-field line after narrowly missing a two-run home run.

      Herrera was summoned from the bullpen. After walking center fielder Gregor Blanco, he retired the next three men he faced, but not before groundouts by second baseman Joe Panik and Posey brought Morse around to score and cut the deficit to 3-2.

      Guthrie gave up two runs on four hits in his five-plus innings.

      Finnegan recorded two consecutive outs after inheriting a one-on, one-out situation in the seventh.

      Davis struck out two of the three Giants he faced in a perfect eighth, setting the stage for Holland to close it out.

      "Their bullpen, you get your hands full when they come in," Bochy said. "I don't know if there's a better bullpen."

      Escobar was the only player in the game to record two hits. The Royals out-hit the Giants 6-4.

      The game's first run came quickly. Escobar belted Hudson's first pitch of the game off the left-field fence for a double, then advanced to third when Gordon hit the next pitch on the ground to Giants first baseman Brandon Belt for the first out.

      Right fielder Lorenzo Cain's grounder to shortstop scored Escobar.

      Game 4, the second of three straight to be played in San Francisco, is scheduled for Saturday night at AT&T Park.

      NOTES: The Royals are up 2-1 in a World Series for the first time in franchise history. ... Royals starter RHP Jeremy Guthrie became the first pitcher in World Series history to record a win without walking or striking out a batter in five or more innings. ... The Game 4 starters Saturday night are Royals LHP Jason Vargas and Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong. ... Both teams announced that Game 1 starters RHP James Shields of the Royals and LHP Madison Bumgarner of the Giants would return to start Game 5 on Sunday. ... Other than the Royals' RHP Greg Holland, the other pitchers to record seven saves in one postseason were the Yankees' John Wetteland (1996), the Giants' Robb Nen (2002), the Angels' Troy Percival (2002), the Phillies' Brad Lidge (2008) and the Red Sox's Koji Uehara (2013). ... As expected, Royals manager Ned Yost benched DH Billy Butler in the National League ballpark. He also replaced regular RF Nori Aoki with defensive whiz Jarrod Dyson, who started in center, with Lorenzo Cain moving to right. ... Giants RHP Tim Lincecum had an MRI on his strained back Thursday. No damage was revealed and he was available for Game 3 relief, although he never entered the game after warming up.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    World Series notebook: Royals shuffle lineup
    By The Sports Xchange

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Due in part to the absence of a designated hitter in a National League ballpark, the Kansas City Royals looked different in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night.

    • A lot different, in fact.

      Despite the fact his team was coming off a convincing win in Game 2 on Wednesday, Royals manager Ned Yost elected to make wholesale changes for the first of three games in San Francisco.

      "It was out of necessity," Yost insisted.

      First, as expected, he pulled designated hitter Billy Butler out of the starting lineup rather than force him into the uncomfortable position of playing first base or in the outfield.

      Yost also benched regular right fielder Nori Aoki in favor of the more defensively gifted Jarrod Dyson. Fearing the unusual dimensions of the AT&T Park outfield, Yost started Dyson in center field and moved Lorenzo Cain to right.

      "With this outfield," Yost explained, "we knew that we had to put our best defense out there."

      Yost made several changes to the batting order, including moving left fielder Alex Gordon into Aoki's spot in the No. 2 hole.

      "We put Alex in there," Yost said, "because of the speed of Dyson at the bottom of the

      order, the speed with (Alcides) Escobar at the top of the order, Alex might get a few more fastballs to hit."

      --Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum underwent an MRI on Tuesday after straining his back in the ninth inning of Game 2. No damage was detected, which immediately put Lincecum on call for Game 3.

      Having seen right-handers Jean Machi and Hunter Strickland struggle big time in the postseason, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum would be a serious option if he needed a bridge between a starter and his four-man, late-innings bullpen crew of left-handers Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt and right-handers Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.

      "I've thought about it a lot," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said before Game 3 when asked about his middle-innings options. "(Yusmeiro) Petit, Timmy ...

      "There's got to be a little sense of comfort for Timmy and us, the fact that he's had some work. So you wouldn't feel bad about putting him in a high-stress situation. So those two guys could help out there."

      Lincecum retired all five batters he faced Wednesday.

      --Outgoing commissioner Bud Selig was on hand to give out the annual Roberto Clemente Award for positive contributions both on and off the field before Game 3.

      Co-winners were honored for 2014: Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    MLB roundup: Maddon opts out of Rays deal
    By The Sports Xchange

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon exercised an opt-out clause in his contract Friday and is leaving the organization immediately.

    • Maddon had a year left on his contract at $2 million but now becomes a free agent.

      Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg issued a statement regarding Maddon's contract situation.

      "Joe Maddon has exercised an opt-out in his current contract, a contract which was not scheduled to expire until after the 2015 season," Sternberg said. "We tried diligently and aggressively to sign Joe to a third contract extension prior to his decision.

      "As of yesterday afternoon, Joe enabled himself to explore opportunities throughout Major League Baseball. He will not be managing the Rays in 2015. Joe has been our manager for nine seasons, and the foundation of success laid during his tenure endures. We thank him for all that he's meant to the organization."

      Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times that his decision to leave the club was a combination of financial issues and curiosity over other opportunities out there. Maddon said there was discussion with the Rays on a new contract but "we were still too far apart."

      "I have been doing this for a long time," Maddon told the newspaper Friday. "I have never had this opportunity to research my employment on my terms. Never, never, never. And I think anybody given the same set of circumstances would do the same thing."

      Maddon said his decision was "gut wrenching, almost feeling sick."

      Maddon said he has no new job lined up but hopes to manage in 2015. The only team without a manager is Minnesota.

      Tampa Bay was 77-85 this season. It was the first year since 2009 that the Rays did not win 90 games.

      Maddon is 781-729 in 11 seasons as a major league manager. He was 754-705 in nine years with Tampa Bay and managed parts of two other seasons with the Angels. He is a two-time American League manager of the year, including in 2008, when the Rays won the American League pennant.

      The move comes 10 days after the Los Angeles Dodgers hired former Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman as their new president of baseball operations.

      Friedman said last week that Don Mattingly will manage the Dodgers next season, and Friedman reiterated that Friday.

      ---Miguel Cabrera underwent surgery on his ankle and foot this week, the Detroit Tigers announced Friday.

      The first baseman had bone spurs removed from his right ankle and a stress fracture repaired by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.

      Cabrera, 31, suffered through ankle pain all season but still played in 159 games. He hit .313 with 25 home runs and led the major leagues with 52 doubles.

      Cabrera will be evaluated in three months.

      ---One season as a minor league coach three years ago was enough to convince Chili Davis to change jobs.

      Davis, the Oakland Athletics' hitting coach the past three years, was introduced as the Boston Red Sox's new hitting coach Thursday.

      Davis takes over an offense that struggled in 2014 as the Red Sox went from a World Series championship the previous year to last place in the American League East this year.

      Under hitting coach Greg Colbrunn in 2014, the Red Sox tied for 21st (with Oakland) with a .244 batting average; ranked 14th in on-base percentage (.316); tied for 23rd in slugging percentage (.369); and tied for 18th in runs scored (634).

      Colbrunn resigned after a season in which he missed time due to a brain ailment.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Giants expect to have Lincecum for Game 3
    By The Sports Xchange

    San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum is expected to be available for Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night after an MRI on his back revealed no damage.

    • Lincecum, a former Cy Young winner as a starting pitcher, was a bright spot out of the bullpen in the Giants' 7-2 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday. He threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings before he left the game with tightness in his lower back.

      Results of the MRI were revealed late Thursday, and the Giants expect to have Lincecum available when the Series resumes in San Francisco on Friday night. The Series is tied 1-1.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Maddon opts out, leaves Rays
    By The Sports Xchange

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon exercised an opt-out clause in his contract Friday and is leaving the organization immediately.

    • Maddon had a year left on his contract at $2 million but now becomes a free agent.

      Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg issued a statement regarding Maddon's contract situation.

      "Joe Maddon has exercised an opt-out in his current contract, a contract which was not scheduled to expire until after the 2015 season," Sternberg said. "We tried diligently and aggressively to sign Joe to a third contract extension prior to his decision.

      "As of yesterday afternoon, Joe enabled himself to explore opportunities throughout Major League Baseball. He will not be managing the Rays in 2015. Joe has been our manager for nine seasons, and the foundation of success laid during his tenure endures. We thank him for all that he's meant to the organization."

      Maddon told the Tampa BayTimes that his decision to leave the club was a combination of financial issues and curiosity over other opportunities out there. Maddon said there was discussion with the Rays on a new contract but "we were still too far apart."

      "I have been doing this for a long time,'' Maddon told the newspaper Friday. "I have never had this opportunity to research my employment on my terms. Never, never, never. And I think anybody given the same set of circumstances would do the same thing.''

      Maddon said his decision was "gut wrenching, almost feeling sick."

      Maddon said he has no new job lined up but hopes to manage in 2015. The only team without a manager is Minnesota.

      Tampa Bay was 77-85 this season. It was the first year since 2009 that the Rays did not win 90 games.

      Maddon is 781-729 in 11 seasons as a major league manager. He was 754-705 in nine years with Tampa Bay and managed parts of two other seasons with the Angels. He is a two-time American League manager of the year, including in 2008, when the Rays won the American League pennant.

      The move comes 10 days after the Los Angeles Dodgers hired former Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman as their new president of baseball operations.

      Friedman said last week that Don Mattingly will manage the Dodgers next season -- "definitely."

      Friedman addressed a number of issues at his introductory news conference last Friday at Dodger Stadium. Mattingly's future topped the list.

      "We're very aligned on a lot of things philosophically and have thoroughly enjoyed those conversations," Friedman said. "We're going to get together next week and I'll look forward to building that relationship."

      Friedman said he already has had two conversations with the Dodgers skipper.

      There had been reports that Friedman might try to bring Maddon, his longtime friend, to Southern California to replace Mattingly. Friedman quickly quashed that rumor.

      "I have a tremendous personal relationship with Joe. He's a friend of mine. We have a really good professional relationship as well," Friedman told the Los Angeles Times last week.

      "I'm going into it with the mind-set that we're going to work together for a long time. ... I'm looking forward to working with Donnie for a long time."

      A Dodgers source told ESPN.com on Friday that Maddon's departure from the Rays has "nothing to do with us."

      Maddon had an opt-out clause with Friedman's departure.

      "In Joe's contract, he had the ability to opt out if certain events took place, and one of those was if Andrew Friedman wasn't an employee of the club," Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman confirmed. "And the last several days, we worked with Joe to try and figure out a contract extension. And we engaged and made many offers and it became clear from his responses that it was not an exercise that was going to lead to an outcome, so he opted out yesterday. And we are turning the page to begin the process to look for a new manager."

      Maddon, who has an off-season home in Long Beach, said last week that he expected to discuss a contract extension with the Rays this winter.

      "I want to continue to be a Ray, absolutely," Maddon said then. "They have to want me to be a Ray too."

      Maddon said he and his wife recently moved into a Tampa home once owned by former USC and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay.

      "I'm really embedded here pretty well," he said last week. "The roots are pretty strong. We have a great infrastructure here. We have a great operation. We have great people. There's so much to like. There's only one negative. That's the ballpark. It's a big negative. But that's about it."

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Tigers' Cabrera undergoes surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    Miguel Cabrera underwent surgery on his ankle and foot this week, the Detroit Tigers announced Friday.

    • The first baseman had bone spurs removed from his right ankle and a stress fracture repaired by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.

      Cabrera, 31, suffered through ankle pain all season but still played in 159 games. He hit .313 with 25 home runs and led the major leagues with 52 doubles.

      Cabrera will be evaluated in three months.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014
    Red Sox hire Chili Davis as hitting coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    One season as a minor league coach three years ago was enough to convince Chili Davis to change jobs.

    • Davis, the Oakland Athletics' hitting coach the past three years, was introduced as the Boston Red Sox's new hitting coach Thursday.

      "The biggest deciding factor was that I had been in the organization," said Davis, who guided Boston's Triple-A hitters in 2011. "I had worked in the organization in 2011, so I am somewhat familiar with the personnel in the organization. They gave me the first opportunity to actually do day-in, day-out coaching for a full year. I loved the time I spent in Pawtucket and the people I was around. It was an opportunity to come back and be around them again."

      Davis takes over an offense that struggled in 2014 as the Red Sox went from a World Series championship the previous year to last place in the American League East this year.

      Under hitting coach Greg Colbrunn in 2014, the Red Sox tied for 21st (with Oakland) with a .244 batting average; ranked 14th in on-base percentage (.316); tied for 23rd in slugging percentage (.369); and tied for 18th in runs scored (634).

      Colbrunn resigned after a season in which he missed time due to a brain ailment.

      Red Sox manager John Farrell endorsed Davis' arrival.

      "When you can look to tangible examples, guys who have gone from trying to break into the big leagues to becoming established everyday players, that goes a long way into seeing the value that Chili brings," manager John Farrell said.

      Davis, 54, played 19 years in the major leagues with the San Francisco Giants, California Angels, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees. He was a three-time All-Star, and he finished with a hitting line of .274/.360/.451 with 350 homers and 1,372 RBIs in 2,436 games.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Diamondbacks hire assistant GM
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Arizona Diamondbacks selected former Washington Nationals assistant general manager Bryan Minniti on Thursday to fill the same position.

    • The Diamondbacks also confirmed Thursday that Mike Russell was added as a special assistant to senior vice presidentof baseball operations De Jon Watson and coordinator of pro scouting.

      Minniti served as Nationals assistant GM for five years before leaving the Nationals soon after they lost a National League Division Series to the San Francisco Giants.

      The Diamondbacks restructured their leadership in the past few months, bringing in Russell, Tony LaRussa as chief baseball officer, Dave Stewart as general manager and Chip Hale as manager.

      Minniti, who is highly respected among baseball executives, worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates for nine years before moving to the Nationals.

      The Nationals have not named a replacement for Minniti.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    A's Moss undergoes hip surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    Oakland Athletics first baseman Brandon Moss had hip surgery on Thursday to repair a torn labrum and an impingement, according to reports Thursday.

    • Moss' hip bothered him during the second half of the season and he said earlier this month that he would undergo surgery to fix the problems.

      In 58 games after the All-Star break in July, Moss batted .173 with four home runs. He finished with season with 25 home runs, 81 RBIs and a .234 batting average.

      Despite the injury, Moss hit two home runs in the A's American League wild-card game loss to the Kansas City Royals.

      The 31-year-old Moss will be on crutches for about four weeks and should be able to run in about 12 weeks. He's expected to be recovered for spring training in February.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Royals, Dodgers lead Gold Glove finalists
    By The Sports Xchange

    The American League champion Kansas City Royals and the National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers had a league-high four players selected as finalists for Rawlings Gold Gloves on Thursday.

    • Three candidates were selected at each position in each league, with one winner per position per league to be announced Nov. 4. Major league managers and coaches account for 75 percent of the voting, and stat analysts contribute the other 25 percent.

      Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar and first baseman Eric Hosmer were selected as finalists. Pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, third baseman Juan Uribe and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez are the Dodgers' nominees.

      The Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers all have three AL finalists. The Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves each have three NL nominees.

      The St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina could tie Bob Boone for third place all time among catchers if he wins his seventh Gold Glove this year.

      The full list of finalists:

      NATIONAL LEAGUE

      Pitcher -- Los Angeles Dodgers' Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright

      Catcher -- Milwaukee Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy, Pittsburgh Pirates' Russell Martin, St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina

      First base -- Los Angeles Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez, Washington Nationals' Adam LaRoche, Colorado Rockies' Justin Morneau

      Second base -- Colorado Rockies' DJ LeMahieu, Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips, Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley

      Shortstop -- Cincinnati Reds' Zack Cozart, Miami Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria, Atlanta Braves' Andrelton Simmons

      Third base -- Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado, San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval, Los Angeles Dodgers' Juan Uribe

      Left field -- Pittsburgh Pirates' Starling Marte, Atlanta Braves' Justin Upton, Miami Marlins' Christian Yelich

      Center field -- Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton, New York Mets' Juan Lagares, Washington Nationals' Denard Span

      Right field -- Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward, Milwaukee Brewers' Gerardo Parra, Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton

      AMERICAN LEAGUE

      Pitcher -- Toronto Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle, Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez, Houston Astros' Dallas Keuchel

      Catcher -- Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, Cleveland Indians' Yan Gomes, Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez

      First base -- Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer, Los Angeles Angels' Albert Pujols

      Second base -- Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano, Detroit Tigers' Ian Kinsler, Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia

      Shortstop -- Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar, Baltimore Orioles' J.J. Hardy, Chicago White Sox's Alexei Ramirez

      Third base -- Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson, Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners' Kyle Seager

      Left field -- Cleveland Indians' Michael Brantley, Boston Red Sox's Yoenis Cespedes, Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon

      Center field -- Boston Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr., Chicago White Sox's Adam Eaton, Baltimore Orioles' Adam Jones

      Right field -- Los Angeles Angels' Kole Calhoun, Tampa Bay Rays' Kevin Kiermaier, Baltimore Orioles' Nick Markakis

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    MLB roundup: Hart named Braves president
    By The Sports Xchange

    Veteran baseball executive John Hart reversed course and opted to accept a three-year deal to become president of baseball operations with the Atlanta Braves.

    • The 66-year-old Hart, who has been acting as interim general manager, said earlier this month he preferred to remain with the team as its top adviser rather than committing to a job with such significant time demands.

      Hart was the first choice of Atlanta president John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, the Braves' former manager now serving in a top adviser role, who first tried to persuade Hart to take the job after the firing of Frank Wren Sept. 22.

      Hart previously worked for the Texas Rangers as a senior advisor and general manager, spanning 12 years, and was general manager of the Cleveland Indians for 10 seasons.

      Precise roles with the Braves will be worked out, but Hart will likely expand the hierarchy beneath him in the front-office flow chart.

      ---Right-handed reliever Tim Lincecum is happy to be heading out of Kansas City after vomiting in the bullpen in Game 1 and leaving the second game for the San Francisco Giants back stiffness.

      Lincecum pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings before he left the game with tightness in his lower back. The Giants will do further tests on his back to assess his status. He is listed as day-to-day.

      "The pitch before the last one, I felt something tighten up in my lower back," Lincecum said. "I just decided not to go any further."

      ---The Philadelphia Phillies signed outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year, $2 million contract, CSNPhilly.com reported. The signing came one day before Sizemore would have become a free agent.

      The Phillies signed Sizemore in June after he was released by the Boston Red Sox. Sizemore hit .233 with five homers overall in 2014, and he hit .253 with three homers in 60 games with the Phillies.

      ---The Colorado Rockies fired their pitching coach Jim Wright and assistant pitching coach Bo McLaughlin, the team announced.

      Colorado had the worst ERA in baseball, at 4.84, although playing at Coors Field tends to inflate all pitchers' ERAs.

      ---Former Yankees batting coach Kevin Long is staying in New York to take the same job with the Mets. Long, who was fired by the Yankees two weeks ago, replaces Dave Hudgens, who was fired as the Mets' hitting coach at midseason.

      The Mets also added Dustin Clarke as their strength and conditioning coach.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Long goes from Yankees to Mets as hitting coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    Former Yankees batting coach Kevin Long is staying in New York to take the same job with the Mets.

    • Long and Dustin Clarke joined the Mets' staff on Thursday. Clarke will serve as the Mets' strength and conditioning coach. He worked in the minors last year.

      The Yankees fired Long two weeks ago after eight seasons with the organization. Long had one of the game's top run-producing teams from 2007 to 2014 until injuries took their toll last year.

      Long replaces Dave Hudgens, who was fired as the Mets' hitting coach at midseason. His replacement, Lamar Johnson, was not rehired at the end of the year. Hudgens has since found work with the Astros as their hitting coach.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Report: Phillies sign Sizemore for one year
    By The Sports Xchange

    Outfielder Grady Sizemore did not produce big numbers while with the Phiadelphia Phillies in 2014, but the Phillies signed Sizemore to a one-year, $2 million contract, CSNPhilly.com reported Thursday.

    • The signing came one day before Sizemore would have become a free agent.

      The Phillies signed Sizemore to a minor-league contract on June 24 after he was released by the Boston Red Sox. He was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 11 and spent the rest of the season with the Phillies.

      Sizemore hit .233 with five homers overall in 2014, and he hit .253 with three homers in 60 games with the Phillies.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Rockies fire pitching coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Colorado Rockies fired their pitching coach Jim Wright and assistant pitching coach Bo McLaughlin, the team announced Thursday.

    • Colorado had the worst ERA in baseball, at 4.84, although playing at Coors Field tends to inflate all pitchers' ERAs.

      Wright had been the Rockies bullpen coach until he took over for Bob Apodaca in 2012.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Change of Hart: Braves name team president
    By The Sports Xchange

    Veteran baseball executive John Hart reversed course and opted to accept a three-year deal to become president of baseball operations with the Atlanta Braves.

    • The 66-year-old Hart, who has been acting as interim general manager, said earlier this month he preferred to remain with the team as its top adviser rather than committing to a job with such significant time demands.

      Hart was the first choice of Atlanta president John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, the Braves' former manager now serving in a top adviser role, who first tried to persuade Hart to take the job after the firing of Frank Wren Sept. 22.

      "I'm delighted that John Hart has agreed to accept the position of President, Baseball Operations," Schuerholz said in a statement Thursday. "Our organization is now poised to move forward in the best possible manner to do the important work that lies ahead. John's credentials speak for themselves. He has had great success as a baseball executive and demonstrated remarkable ability to construct championship teams. We are excited by John's dynamic and positive leadership style and look forward to him leading our baseball operations."

      Hart previously worked for the Texas Rangers as a senior advisor and general manager, spanning 12 years, and was general manager of the Cleveland Indians for 10 seasons.

      Precise roles with the Braves will be worked out, but Hart will likely expand the hierarchy beneath him in the front-office flow chart. Similar setups are used with the Chicago Cubs, and president Theo Epstein, and in-progress with the Los Angeles Dodgers, headed by Andrew Friedman. Assistant GM John Coppolella is likely to serve a general manager role and could get the job title to match.

      Coppolella, 36, is considered by many a rising front-office star. Another potential candidate discussed was Dan O'Dowd, who resigned earlier this month after 15 seasons as general manager of the Colorado Rockies.

      Hart joined the Braves in November 2013. A two-time Major League Executive of the Year, Hart spent 2002-05 as GM and 2006-13 as senior advisor for the Texas Rangers. He spent 13 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, the last 10 as executive vice president and general manager.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Giants RHP Lincecum day-to-day
    By The Sports Xchange

    Right-handed reliever Tim Lincecum is happy to be heading out of Kansas City after vomiting in the bullpen in Game 1 and leaving the second game for the San Francisco Giants back stiffness.

    • Lincecum, a former Cy Young winner as a starting pitcher, was a bright spot out of the bullpen with 1 2/3 scoreless innings before he left the game with tightness in his lower back.

      He entered the game in the seventh inning and sat down five in a row, but winced on his second-to-last pitch when he appeared to overextend and lose his balance on his plant leg. The next pitch skipped in front of home plate, and Lincecum called for the Giants' trainer.

      "The pitch before the last one, I felt something tighten up in my lower back," Lincecum said. "I just decided not to go any further."

      Lincecum, who was moved to the bullpen with a 4.64 ERA, had not pitched since the final day of the regular season. He said there were plenty of chances to pitch off the mound in the bullpen and in side sessions.

      "You get out there in the game-time atmosphere and you don't worry about how long it's been," he said. "You just go out there and compete. Your body taps into what it's comfortable with, and today that's what it was."

      Manager Bruce Bochy said Lincecum threw the ball "great" and did not know what impact the long layoff might've had. While the Royals showed in taking Game 2 to tie the World Series at 1-1 that their bullpen is a strength, there are suddenly significant questions about where Bochy could turn if he needs help in the middle innings of games 3, 4 and 5 at AT&T Park this weekend.

      He's hopeful Lincecum is available, with rookie right-hander Hunter Strickland looking fragile after a sixth-inning implosion that included a bench-clearing staredown sparked by Strickland jawing.

      "We're going to need help in the sixth, seventh inning," Bochy said. "I like the way he threw the ball today. It's been a while since he pitched. But I thought overall he looked good for the long layoff. So he can be in the mix."

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Five things we know heading into World Series Game 3
    By The Sports Xchange

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A five-run, sixth-inning rally led the Kansas City Royals to a 7-2 victory over the Giants on Wednesday in Game 2 of the World Series, offsetting San Francisco's 7-1 win in the opener.

    • Here are five things we know about the World Series as it switches to San Francisco for Game 3 on Friday:

      --5. Billy Butler has the most seniority among the Kansas City players, and he is stepping up in the clutch. The designated hitter went 2-for-3 Wednesday, driving in two runs, including the go-ahead score in the sixth. He likely will be out of the starting lineup in San Francisco because of the National League rules that do not include the designated hitter. However, manager Ned Yost said Butler could still play a key role.

      "Having a guy like Billy on the bench is extremely valuable late in the game," he said. You don't have to start the game to win the game."

      --4. The Giants' bullpen, especially the middle relief, suddenly looks vulnerable. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy ran through five pitchers in the decisive sixth inning. Right-hander Tim Lincecum later left the game due to lower-back tightness, though Bochy said the long reliever should recover quickly.

      "I think we're great," said reliever Jeremy Affeldt, who stopped the damage by inducing a double play to end the sixth. "I think you can have situations like that (inning) that happen. Good teams can do that to a bullpen. But I think it got out of hand, and that does happen. I think our bullpen throws a lot of strikes, and we are going up against a team that's aggressive. We just didn't make good pitches.

      --3. Giants right-hander Tim Hudson is scheduled to start Game 3, and Bochy is confident he is over his late-season struggles. Hudson went 0-5 in September with an 8.72 ERA.

      "I don't know if it was fatigue as much as he was dealing with a nagging hip," Bochy said. "It's hard enough to play this game when you're healthy, but when you're pitching and your hip's bothering you...

      "He's a warrior. He was never complaining. He was never making excuses, but it was a fact."

      Hudson pitched well in a National League Division Series start against the Washington Nationals, then had a mediocre outing in an NL Championship Series start against the St. Louis Cardinals. He will be facing a Kansas City lineup that won eight consecutive games entering the World Series, then got back on track Wednesday with seven runs on 10 hits.

      --2. Kansas City's bullpen is in good shape, especially the back end. Yost didn't have to use right-handers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland in Game 1. The trio combined for 3 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief in Game 2. Herrera threw 1 2/3 innings Wednesday, with a long gap between the sixth and seventh while the Royals were breaking the game open. Yost then got Davis and Holland into the game for an inning each.

      "(The layoff) didn't affect them," Yost said of his dynamic trio. "It helped them. It gave them some extra days. Kel came in in the sixth inning throwing fastballs up to 101 miles an hour."

      --1. The Royals have life. Forty-two of 53 teams to take a 2-0 World Series lead won the Series. Only the 1985 Royals and the 1986 New York Mets won the World Series after losing the first two games at home. However, a 1-1 tie means it is anybody's Series to win. The Royals, who finished five games better on the road (47-34) than at home (42-39), are feeling good going to San Francisco.

      "I felt like (Game 2) was definitely a must-win for us," Butler said. "Granted, going down 0-2, we see what happened with us in the Baltimore series. The home team carries a lot of momentum back to their home park. We stepped up big there as a team, and that gave us some confidence in that clubhouse."

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Royals ride five-run inning to Game 2 rout
    By The Sports Xchange

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thanks to one big rally, the World Series is now a best-of-five.

    • Salvador Perez hit a two-run double and Omar Infante belted a two-run homer in a five-run sixth inning, and the Kansas City Royals defeated the San Francisco Giants 7-2 Wednesday night to even the World Series at one game apiece.

      It was almost a must-win game for the Royals, who lost the opener 7-1 while mustering only four hits. They could ill afford to go to San Francisco for the next three games down 0-2 after hosting the opening two games at Kauffman Stadium.

      "It's a huge win for us to give us that fresh start ... in San Francisco," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's a new series. We play good on the road as a team."

      Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain added, "We definitely felt like we needed to leave here 1-1. We found a way to get it done. We needed this win. We always talk about a happy flight when we travel. It's definitely going to be a happy flight tonight."

      The trek will seem long for the Giants and manager Bruce Bochy, who used five pitchers in the sixth inning as his bullpen imploded.

      San Francisco starter Jake Peavy, who retired 10 consecutive batters entering the sixth, was pulled after Cain singled and Hosmer walked to start the inning with the score 2-2.

      With designated hitter Billy Butler, 15-for-35 career off Peavy including a RBI single in the first, coming to the plate, Bochy summoned right-hander Jean Machi. Butler laced a single to left-center, scoring Cain to put the Royals on top.

      "That was a monster hit for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I felt really strongly that whoever scored that third run was going to win the game."

      After left-hander Javier Lopez retired left fielder Alex Gordon, right-hander Hunter Strickland was called on to face Perez, and the Kansas City catcher ripped a two-run double. Next, Infante blasted a 1-0 pitch over the Royals' left field bullpen fence, the second baseman's first postseason home run in 145 at-bats.

      Strickland and Perez had words around the plate, but Infante quickly got Perez headed to the dugout and the umpires stepped in as the dugouts briefly cleared.

      "After I hit the double, he started looking 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. (I said), '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.'

      "I don't know what happened with that guy. But the last thing, we don't want to fight on the field. I'm not that kind of person."

      Strickland allowed two inherited runners to score and two of his own in six pitches without retiring a batter.

      "My emotions got the best of me," Strickland said. "It was just miscommunication between the two of us. I was more frustrated with myself. There are no hard feelings with anybody."

      Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt recorded the last two outs of the inning.

      "We feel good coming out of here 1-1," Affeldt said. "We knew this was going to be a tough series. I don't think I would have predicted the scores, but we knew it was going to be a dogfight, so we were prepared. We could have lost 3-2 tonight and been in the same situation."

      Right-hander Yordano Ventura, who became the first Kansas City rookie to start a World Series game at any position, left after 5 1/3 innings and 87 pitches. He permitted two runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Ventura was pitching the first time since Oct. 11, when he left Game 2 of the American League Championship Series after 5 2/3 innings due to shoulder tightness.

      Manager Ned Yost went to his bullpen, bringing in right-hander Kelvin Herrera after catcher Buster Posey and right fielder Hunter Pence singled in the sixth. Herrera's first three pitches hit 100-101 mph on the radar gun. Herrera retired first baseman Brandon Belt on a fly to left and designated hitter Michael Morse on a grounder to keep the score tied at 2.

      "I think I was hitting the spots good with that velocity today," Herrera said.

      Herrera, who picked up the victory, went 1 2/3 hitless innings, striking out one and walking two.

      Peavy, who was charged with four runs on six hits in five-plus innings, took the loss. He walked two and struck out one.

      "Going into the sixth, it was a 2-2 game," Peavy said. "Unfortunately, they got us in a jam there.

      "It's disappointing anytime you lose. There's nothing to hang our heads about. We had an inning that got away from us and we lost a ballgame. We're going home, in front of our home crowd."

      Royals right-handers Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined to strike out five in the final two innings, sending the teams to San Francisco with the series even.

      Game 3, 4 and 5 will be played in San Francisco on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

      Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, who had not pitched in 23 days, retired the first five batters he faced, but he motioned the trainer out after bouncing a pitch to Perez in the eighth. After a brief conversation, Lincecum was led off the field and replaced by Santiago Casilla.

      "His lower back tightened up pretty good on him," Bochy said. "We think he'll be fine."

      Leading off the game, San Francisco center fielder Gregor Blanco turned on a 98 mph, full-count Ventura fastball and deposited it in the Giants' right field bullpen. Blanco became the 17th player to lead off a World Series game with a home run. The previous was two were Boston Red Sox: second baseman Dustin Pedroia in 2007 and outfielder Johnny Damon in 2004.

      The Royals tied it in the bottom of the inning when Butler's two-out single scored Cain. Butler's hit snapped Kansas City's 0-for-17 streak with runners in scoring position.

      The Royals forged ahead in the second when shortstop Alcides Escobar's two-out double down the right field line scored Infante, who drilled a one-hop double to the left field line.

      Third baseman Pablo Sandoval and Belt doubled in the Giants' fourth to tie the score.

      NOTES: Before the game, Royals RHP Greg Holland was honored with the Mariano Rivera Award for the best relief pitcher in the AL and Braves RHP Craig Kimbrel was given the Trevor Hoffman Award for best relief pitcher in the NL. Holland saved 46 games during the regular season. ... During the Giants' seven-game World Series winning streak through Game 1, the pitching staff posted a 1.13 ERA, allowing eight earned runs in 64 innings. ... Two veteran right-handers, Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals and Tim Hudson of the Giants, are the pitching probables for Game 3 on Friday in San Francisco. LHP Jason Vargas will start Saturday for the Royals, while the Giants will counter with RHP Ryan Vogelsong. The Giants went 30-30 against left-handed starters during the season and 58-44 against right-handers. ... Royals Hall of Famer George Brett threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Phillip Phillips, a platinum recording artist, performed the national anthem.

  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Giants' Morse bounces back in playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Playing for his fourth team in three years, Michael Morse is still trying to get back to the levels he established in 2011.

    • The San Francisco Giants' designated hitter during the first two games of the World Series, Morse is hitting .333 (4-for-12) with one home run and two RBIs through six playoff games. He went 1-for-3 Wednesday during San Francisco's 7-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals that left the series tied at one game apiece.

      Morse established career bests in 2011 with the Washington Nationals, hitting .303 with 36 doubles, 31 home runs and 95 RBIs.

      He missed two months in 2012 with a right lateral strain but hit .291 with 18 home runs in 102 games and added a home run in the playoffs against the St. Louis Cardinals.

      Morse's career took a detour in 2013. He was traded in January to the Seattle Mariners, then was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 20. He combined to hit .215 with 13 home runs in 312 at-bats. Not a good resume for a player entering the free agent market.

      He signed a one-year contract with the Giants on Dec. 17, 2013. His RBI single in the fourth inning Tuesday chased Royals starter James Shields as the Giants breezed to a 7-1 victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

      "Last year I had a really down year," Morse said before Game 2. "For (the Giants) to take a flier out on me this year and give me an opportunity to come here and just believe in me in general was huge. It was such an honor to be a part of this team.

      "When my agents told me that the Giants were interested in me, I pretty much said, that's the team I want to be with."

      Morse was a mainstay for the Giants until an oblique injury kept him out of all but one September game. He was left off the roster for the National League wild-card and NL Division Series because of the injury before he was activated to serve as a pinch hitter in the NL Championship Series. Morse started 82 games in left field and 39 at first base during the regular season.

      "There was a point that I didn't know if I'd be able to get back in time," Morse said. "It was always, 'When we get to the NLCS.' ...

      "In 2012 after we lost in the division when I was with the Nationals, if you would have told me, 'Don't worry, in two years you'll be in the World Series,' I wouldn't have believed you," he said. "But I got an opportunity to meet (Giants manager) Bruce Bochy, and the little time we had together we kind of clicked."