KANSAS CITY: A five-run outburst that nearly sparked a melee powered Kansas City over the San Francisco Giants 7-2 Wednesday as the Royals pulled level in the 110th World Series.
By breaking open an even game in the sixth inning, the Royals deadlocked Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final at 1-1 as the scene shifts to San Francisco for games three through five on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
A two-run double by Salvador Perez followed by a two-run homer from Omar Infante off Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland in the sixth had the intense rookie hurler yelling at Perez as players from both teams walked out of the dugout, poised in case a confrontation broke out.
“I think it was just frustration on his part,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s an intense kid and it got away from him a little bit. He’s a competitor. That’s one area where he’s going to have to learn to keep his poise. It’s an area he has to work on.”
Cooler heads prevailed as Giants catcher Buster Posey helped calm Strickland while Perez, who waited at home plate to congratulate Venezuelan compatriot Infante on his first career playoff homer after 145 at bats, shrugged off Strickland’s angry screams and walked away.
“I don’t know what happened with that guy,” Perez said. “But that’s the last thing. We don’t want a fight on the field. I’m not that kind of player.”
Infante’s blast over the left-field fence ended the second-longest active major league playoff homer drought 44 at-bats shy of St. Louis outfielder Jon Jay’s current futility mark.
Strickland, a 26-year-old right-hander promoted from the developmental ranks last month, surrendered his fifth homer of the 2014 playoffs, matching Milwaukee’s Chris Narvesson in 2011 for the most by any reliever in a single playoff campaign.
“I don’t see any issues from this point on,” Bochy said. “I just had to calm Strickland down. It’s a big stage. A lot of emotions are going to be shown in these games. The kid was frustrated but he will be back out there.”
After dropping the opener 7-1, the Royals knew a game two home triumph was vital. Teams losing the first two games have lost the World Series 42 of 53 times, including nine in a row and 15 of the past 16 such situations.
The Giants seek their third championship in five seasons after having snapped a 56-year drought in 2010 while the Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since winning their only World Series crown in 1985.
Kansas City chased Giants starting pitcher Jake Peavy and three relievers from the mound in the sixth.
Lorenzo Cain opened the onslaught with a single, took second on a walk to Eric Hosmer and scored on Billy Butler’s single to left field off reliever Jean Machi, setting the stage for Perez and Infante’s fireworks.
Royals relievers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland kept the Giants off the scoreboard over the final four innings.
Peavy, who helped Boston win last year’s World Series crown, started against Yordano Ventura, the first rookie to start for the Royals in a World Series game at any position.
The 23-year-old Dominican right-hander was the first rookie starting pitcher in a World Series game since Japan’s Daisuke Matsuzaka for Boston in 2007, but the Royals had won 12 of his prior 14 starts.
Gregor Blanco opened with a homer for the Giants, the first to open a Series game since 2007. Butler answered with a run-scoring single in the first and Alcides Escobar’s doubled in a run in the second before the Giants equalized in the fourth on a Brandon Belt double that scored Infante from second.