Will Royals’ rout have carry-over effect into Game 7?

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KANSAS CITY – The on-field performance was off the charts, but the seeds for the Royals’ Game 6 World Series victory were planted before anyone left the clubhouse.

There was no “win or go home” pregame talk, according to veteran designated hitter Billy Butler. No self-induced pressure added to a situation where the stakes required no explaining.

With elimination staring them in the face, it was the Royals who played loose and aggressive, taking it to the Giants in a 10-0 spanking Tuesday to force Game 7 in the 110th Fall Classic.

[RECAP: Peavy rocked, Royals force Game 7]

After being soundly beaten in Games 4 and 5 at AT&T Park, Kansas City returned to Kauffman Stadium and posted the most lopsided shutout in a World Series game since the 1985 Royals walloped St. Louis 11-0 in Game 7. It marks yet another momentum shift in this back-and-forth series.

“Their confidence was definitely high going into that game,” Butler said of the Giants. “So for our offense to do that early in the game was huge for us.”

He spoke of the seven-run second inning that blew open Game 6 and chased Giants starter Jake Peavy after just 1 1/3 innings. Talk about a change in fortunes – the Royals entered Tuesday having been held scoreless in their previous 15 innings and producing just nine base runners over that span.

It was an emsemble act in Game 6. Six different Royals notched two hits, six drove in at least one run and every starting position player except Butler scored a run.

This marks just the sixth World Series to go the distance out of the past 26, and there’s an obvious storyline that takes form as Wednesday’s Game 7 awaits: Does any momentum carry over for the Royals from their Game 6 blowout, or do both teams start from scratch as they play a winner-take-all contest?

[RATTO: Game 7 fitting end to perfectly strange World Series]

“I don’t expect it in any way to have any type of (impact) for tomorrow,” Butler offered. “I think it’ll be a completely clean slate, just like we could have let two games in San Francisco carry over to here, but it didn’t.”

Some Game 7 historical nuggets to consider:

  •  This is the 37th time in a best-of-seven World Series that a final game has been played. Remarkably, the home team has won 18 times and the visiting team has won 18 times.
  • Recent history has definitely favored the home team, which has won each of the past nine Game 7’s.
  • The last road team to win Game 7 of the World Series was the Willie Stargell-led Pittsburgh Pirates of 1979.

However, a road block (and perhaps maybe a mental block) confronts the Royals in the form of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. The lefty, who has held Kansas City to one run over 16 innings in this series, will be available in relief Wednesday. The only question is for how many innings, given he’ll be on just two days’ rest.

[RELATED: Bumgarner ready to go if needed in Game 7]

Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will take the ball for the Royals, and veteran Tim Hudson will start for the Giants. But the Royals know full well they stand to get a third dose of MadBum.

“We’ll be prepared and ready to go,” Kansas City outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. “We’ve gotta worry about ourselves. We can’t worry about who’s pitching for them or whatever the case may be. We’ll be ready to go.

“It definitely helps the more you see a guy. At the end of the day, we gotta go up there and execute, and he has to locate his pitches.”

Kansas City’s first postseason experience since 1985 has lit a fire under this entire city. Local businesses are draping Royals banners across their buildings. City fountains are spouting blue water. It’s not lost on the players themselves how much is riding on a final, deciding game of this World Series.

“(Wednesday) means a lot to a lot of people,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “Not only in this clubhouse and upstairs, but to all the people who were with us in the minor leagues, people who helped us develop. Everyone that’s been with us every step of the way. It’s gonna be fun.”

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”