Travis Ishikawa sends Giants to World Series on walk-off three-run homer

79 Comments

The Giants are headed to the World Series for the third time in the past five seasons.

Travis Ishikawa launched a walk-off three-run homer off Michael Wacha in the bottom of the ninth inning this evening to lead the Giants to a dramatic 6-3 win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. They will now move on to face the Royals in the World Series, which will begin Tuesday night in Kansas City.

The game-winning rally was set up in curious fashion, as Michael Wacha entered the game to make his first appearance since September 26. He quickly gave up a leadoff single to Pablo Sandoval before Hunter Pence flew out to right field. Wacha then walked Brandon Belt on four pitches before Ishikawa pulled a pitch over the right field fence to punch the Giants’ ticket to the World Series. Ishikawa misplayed a fly ball in the third inning to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead, but it’s safe to say that he redeemed himself with his Bobby Thomson moment.

The Cardinals actually had the lead in this game going into the bottom of the eighth inning, as Adam Wainwright gave up just two runs over seven innings in a gritty performance, but Michael Morse evened things up with a pinch-hit solo homer off Pat Neshek. The Cardinals loaded the bases against Santiago Casilla in the top of the ninth before Giants manager Bruce Bochy turned to Jeremy Affeldt to get Oscar Taveras to ground out to end the scoring threat.

The Giants didn’t have a home run over the first four games of the series, but the long ball accounted for all six of their runs tonight. This included a two-run blast from Joe Panik in the bottom of the third inning. Madison Bumgarner gave up three runs over eight innings of work and retired the final 13 batters he faced.

This is the first time since 2002 (Angels-Giants) that two Wild Card teams will meet in the World Series. And naturally, it’s the first time it has happened since the newest Wild Card format came into play. What a postseason. Here’s hoping it still has some magic left.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

Getty Images
7 Comments

Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?