After winning games four and five of the World Series, the San Francisco Giants are now one win away from their third World Series championship in five years. But for a couple of innings in game four things looked much different and it looked like the Kansas City Royals were cruising.
In the third inning of game four, the Royals led the series 2-1 and rallied to score four runs and take a 4-1 lead in the game.
With two runners still on base, Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and brought in reliever Jean Machi who promptly walked the first batter he faced, loading the bases.
At this point, the Royals had an 82% chance to win the World Series based on both in-game win probability and series win probability according to fivethirtyeight.com.
Machi struck out the next batter and the Royals couldn’t add to their lead.
However, two innings later, with a 4-2 lead, Eric Hosmer of the Royals was leading off the fifth inning.
Fox broadcaster Harold Reynolds noted that the Royals had relievers ready to end the game and the Giants’ best batters were due up in the bottom of the inning. “That’s why [the top of the fifth inning] is a big half inning,” said Reynolds. “for [Giants pitcher Yusmeiro] Petit to keep the score the way it is.”
But Hosmer led off the inning with a double over the first basemen’s glove. The chances of the Royals extending their lead were good and once again Kansas City had an 82% chance to win the World Series. Those chances would have extended to 89% if the Royals could have added just one run.
Needless to say, Giants fans are worried.
But the Royals never scored in the fifth inning as Petit got Mike Moustakas to pop out to the shortstop, Omar Infante struck out, and Salvador Perez popped up to the second baseman to end the inning.
Little did anybody know at this point, but Reynolds’ comments were prophetic and this 9-pitch sequence was when things turned for the worse for the Royals.
Instead of the Royals extending their lead, the Giants tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning and went on to score nine runs over their next 21 batters covering three innings. The Giants won the game 11-4 to tie the series. The Giants then went on to win give five and have now outscored the Royals 14-0 over the last 14 innings in the World Series.
Now down 3-2 in the series, fivethirtyeight’s calculations give the Royals just a 29% chance of winning games six and seven.
If only the Royals could have scored an extra run or two when they had chances in game four. We might be talking about the Royals needing just one win at home to take the series.
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