Wild World Series: Perfect Royals vs tested Giants
With the World Series set between the playoff-perfect Kansas City Royals and the tried-and-tested San Francisco Giants, there’s a fair amount of mystery to it.
They don’t share a ton of history.
They’ve played 12 times since interleague play began in 1997, with Kansas City winning nine.
Yet, even with the Royals unbeaten in these playoffs and enjoying home-field advantage when the World Series begins on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium, the oddsmakers have made the Giants a slim favorite to win it all.
A surprising meeting? Maybe, although both teams had high expectations when they met in Surprise — that’s in Arizona, where Hunter Pence homered as the Giants beat the Royals early in spring training.
By August, the Royals were rolling. They swept the visiting Giants in a three-game series, beating star pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum, and stealing seven bases in the finale as All-Star closer Greg Holland excelled.
“We know we’re playing a great team. But to get to this point, it’s time to celebrate,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after Travis Ishikawa’s bottom-of-the-ninth homer on Thursday beat St. Louis in the clinching Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
The Royals, after going 8-0 in the American League playoffs, are back in the World Series for the first time since beating the Cardinals in 1985. That’s 29 years — the average age on the Royals’ postseason roster is 28. That includes reliever Brandon Finnegan, who pitched this summer for Texas Christian Univeristy in the College World Series.
“They’re as hot as you can get,” first baseman Buster Posey, already a two-time champion with the Giants, said of the Royals. “We were playing them earlier this year and they spanked us pretty good. We know we’re going to have our hands full with them.
“They’re a dynamic team that pitches really well, really good defense. They’ve got pop, too, along with speed.”
Outfielder Lorenzo Cain, the AL Championship Series MVP, and Kansas City will have had five days off before Game 1. In the past, long layoffs in October have often meant rust more than rest.
The Giants are trying to extend their every-other-year success after winning crowns in 2010 and 2012. Infielder Pablo Sandoval, the popular Kung Fu Panda and a former World Series MVP, and his friends also have a lengthy break after finishing off St. Louis.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that’ve been through this ... they know what to expect and they are not afraid of the moment by no means,” said Bumgarner, MVP of the NLCS.
“And I think the young guys that we have that have not been through it, they say that and then they feed off of that, and they know that they don’t have to be afraid, either,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun series against Kansas City.”
This will be the first time that wild cards have met in the Series since a seven-game thriller between the Anaheim Angels and Giants in 2002.