SAN FRANCISCO - Did the Giants order their grounds crew to turn AT&T Park into Sea World for Game 3 in an effort to slow the Royals' running game?
It sure looked that way. Despite sunny, dry conditions Friday, the field looked as if it had been drenched by a monsoon.
"In some places,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said before Game 4 Saturday night. "And yes, I thought it was a little extra wet around first. When dove back to first, he came up extremely muddy. I thought that it was a little damper than normal, yeah.''
The Royals led the majors with 153 stolen bases during the regular season, 15 more than the runner-up Dodgers. They also had 13 in 11 playoff games entering Game 4, the only team in double-digits. The Giants were 3-for-7 in stolen-base attempts this postseason, so it's safe to say they're not quite as reliant on their legs as the Royals are. Each team stole one base in the Giants' 11-4 win in Game 4, and field conditions did not seem to be a factor.
As for SwampGate, the Giants played dumb. If the grounds crew in fact was overzealous with the hose, manager Bruce Bochy claimed ignorance. "You know, I heard that,'' he said. "I didn't notice. I'm being honest. I didn't see it, but somebody did mention that to me.''
Bochy also recalled the issue coming up during the Division Series against the Nationals, but that didn't get the same attention.
Bochy was asked if he usually has any input on how much the field gets watered down. "Well, if I don't think it's playable, sure I would have input,'' he said. "But honestly, I didn't say anything about the infield or do something. I'm being honest.''
The state of California is in the midst of a historic three-year drought, and the San Francisco area dealt with water-use limitations as recently as this past summer. With the region so water-conscious lately, an intentional soaking of the field becomes even stranger.
The strategy did appear to work. The Royals did not attempt any steals, but Hunter Pence was thrown out trying to swipe second base. Kansas City also seemed fine chasing down everything on the wet outfield lawn. Rightfielder Lorenzo Cain made two sliding catches to deny a pair of hits in the first two innings.
Given that the Royals prevailed, 3-2, they could afford to joke about the soggy situation. The initial forecast for Game 4 called for showers off-and-on all day Saturday, but the rain never materialized, giving way to partly cloudy skies instead.
Ultimately, the Royals stopped short of accusing the Giants of gamesmanship. Instead, Yost jokingly credited the large number of his team's blue-clad fans for distracting the AT&T grounds crew.
"I don't know,'' Yost said. "Maybe the groundskeeper just was looking at all the Royals fans up in the corner and forgot.''