The most exciting moment in the top-to-bottom pivotal sixth inning came when Kansas City broke things open at the expense of Giants' fireballer Hunter Strickland, who is, according to Bruce Bochy, "a really intense kid." Yeah, we saw.
Thrust into a crucial situation, Strickland promptly surrendered a double to Salvador Perez to make it 5-2. "When I got to second after I hit a double," Perez said, "he started to look at me."
It was when Perez was jogging home on Omar Infante's home run that Strickland started jawing at him, leading Perez to reply and players both teams to spill out of their dugouts. You can see video of the full incident here, but this Vine really gets at the heart of it.
Looks like a "get in the dugout, boy," but I'm willing to be corrected.
So, what happened?
"I got close to home plate, he looked at me," Perez said. "So I asked him, 'What are you looking at me for? I didn't hit a homer. Omar hit a homer.' I don't know what's going on, but forget about that. That's part of the game. We'll go to San Francisco and see what happens."
Strickland, who had to be escorted to his dugout by an umpire, was a little more composed back at his locker after the game. He said the whole thing was a "miscommunication," that Perez had said something in Spanish that Strickland didn't understand. So naturally he decided to yell back.
"I'm not going to back down from anything," Strickland said. "I thought he must have thought I said something to him so, and like I said, it was just the way it is. I got caught up in it."
Strickland was supposed to be the Giants' secret weapon this October, a righty who can regularly hit 100 mph. Bochy has regularly gone to him. Sometimes the results are spectacular—in game 1 of the NLDS, he cleaned up a bases-loaded jam with heat and more heat. (If you want good summary of the kid, he said afterward that he would have shaken off Buster Posey if his catcher had called for a breaking ball. If you want a better summary of the Georgia-born Strickland, his locker contains "a pair of garish white cowboy boots, a Bible and a set of ski goggles.")
But Strickland, who began the season in single-A and skipped triple-A altogether, has proven just as likely to pour gasoline on his fires. In five-and-a-third postseason innings, he's given up five home runs. That's the risk of counting on a rookie for high-leverage situations, and from Bruce Bochy's comments, it sounds like we're probably not going to see much more Hunter Strickland this year.
"I think it was just frustration on his part," Bochy said. "He's a really intense kid. That's probably an area he needs to show some poise. These are some things we'll to talk to him about."