The San Francisco Giants moved within one win of capturing their third World Series title in five years, taking a three-games-to-two lead over the visiting Kansas City Royals with a 5-0 victory Sunday night at AT&T Park. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner threw a four-hitter to become the first pitcher to notch a complete-game shutout in the Fall Classic since Josh Beckett in 2003.
Here are five things we know going into Game 6, which will be played Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, with Royals rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura starting against Giants right-hander Jake Peavy. It is a rematch of Game 2, won 7-2 by the Royals.
5. The Royals will get designated hitter Billy Butler back in the lineup for Games 6 with the series shifting back to an American League park, where the DH rule is in effect. However, Butler is more effective against left-handed pitching, and the Giants will start Peavy in Game 6 and have right-hander Tim Hudson lined up for a potential Game 7. Butler had just a .653 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and five home runs in 448 plate appearances against righties in the regular season but a .847 OPS and four homers in 155 trips to the plate against left-handers.
4. Michael Morse will return as the DH for the Giants in Game 6, giving San Francisco an extra power bat in the lineup. Morse had just two regular-season at-bats in San Francisco’s last 31 regular-season games because of a strained oblique muscle and also missed the National League wild card and NL Division Series. However, since returning for the NL Championship Series, Morse is swinging a potent bat, going 5-for-13 (.385) with a double, a home run and three RBIs.
3. Bumgarner threw 117 pitches, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he gave no thought to pulling his ace after San Francisco scored three runs in the eighth inning to increase its lead to 5-0. One school of thought is that Bochy should have removed Bumgarner in preparation for needing to use him in relief in a possible Game 7 on Wednesday. However, Bumgarner did not make his usual between-starts throwing session and said he would be ready to pitch a few innings on two days of rest. He has not pitched in relief since 2009.
2. Bochy is a little worried if his team will be completely healthy for Game 6. Morse, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and right-handed reliever Tim Lincecum all got sick during the series with what Bochy called “the crud” (a stomach ailment). None was ill to the point where he had to miss any games, but there is a concern more players could get sick because they will be in close quarters during Monday’s flight from San Francisco to Kansas City.
1. The fate of the Royals’ season will riding with Ventura, 23. However, Royals manager Ned Yost believes the rookie is up to the task because of his uncommon poise for such a young pitcher. It also doesn’t hurt that Ventura’s fastball reaches 100 mph and is complemented by a wipeout slider and a decent changeup. While Ventura wasn’t dominant in Game 2, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings, he kept the game close until the Royals erupted for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie.