KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ned Yost wanted a seven-game World Series. Now he's got it.
The Kansas City Royals pummeled the San Francisco Giants 10-0 in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night, setting up a winner-takes-all one-game championship showdown Wednesday night at 8:07 p.m. ET at Kauffman Stadium.
Earlier in the week, with the series tied at two games apiece, Yost, the Royals' manager, professed that he secretly wanted a seven-game series, just for the thrill of it. And now baseball has just that, its absolute apex, a World Series game that will crown a champion for 2014.
Before the game, when asked about a hypothetical game Wednesday, Yost said: "There is tomorrow." It was not defensive so much as definitive, and behind a seven-run second inning and seven shutout innings from rookie starter Yordano Ventura, the Royals embodied Yost's prophecy.
The second inning began with an Alex Gordon single, followed with another from Salvador Perez and unknotted the scoreless tie with a Mike Moustakas double. He and Perez scored on a Nori Aoki single, Lorenzo Cain followed with another run-scoring single and Eric Hosmer chased in a pair of runs with a ball that bounced in the infield, over shortstop Brandon Crawford's head and into left field. A Billy Butler double added another run, and just like that, 33 minutes later, the Royals led 7-0 and the pregame fear that coursed through 40,372 evaporated.
Ventura made sure to keep it that way. He became just the 12th player ever 23 years old or younger to throw at least seven shutout innings in a World Series game. Though wild – he yielded five walks – the Giants couldn't square up his high-90s fastballs and mustered three hits against him.
It was the exact performance Kansas City needed, one that gave the Royals the peace of mind to rest their bullpen leading into the final day of the season.
"Anytime you can get to a Game 7," said Jeremy Guthrie, the Royals' starter in the seventh game, "you realize anything can happen."
The beauty of Game 7 lies in that open canvas on which Yost and Giants manager Bruce Bochy will endeavor to paint their masterpiece. It is Yost's first postseason; it is Bochy's crack at a third championship in five seasons. And should the game remain close early on, an antithesis of Game 6, the managers will matter.
Because even the slightest crack in the pitcher foundation could result in a mudjacking from the bullpen. How early will Yost go to his three-headed relief monster, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland? How liberally will Bochy use his ace, Madison Bumgarner, the hero of Games 1 and 5 who is available to pitch out of the bullpen Wednesday?
Game 7 of the World Series is the greatest because in the NBA Finals teams don't change strategy and in the Super Bowl teams stick to what has worked the previous 18 game days. Baseball turns into a fundamentally different game, one of feints and dekes, of strategy and tactics, of the truest embodiment of the following aphorism.
There are no finer words in sports than Game 7 of the World Series.