Special to GreensboroSports.com from Stuart Barefoot who is BFL/Baseball for Life:
The 2014 World Series is set. The San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals will do battle. On Tuesday night, in a best of seven series with the winner being crowned the champions of the world. This probably isn’t the World Series matchup many people predicted.
The Giants have been something of a familiar face in the postseason lately, as they make their third appearance in five years in the Fall Classic, having won the series in 2010 and 2012. They play really well during even years for some reason. The Royals on the other hand went on a 29-year playoff hiatus after winning the World Series in 1985, and stormed back onto the postseason stage in style having won all eight playoff games they’ve been in so far.
How Did They Get Here?
Both teams won a Wild Card spot in their respective leagues. The Royals earned the Top AL Wild Card spot and played host to the Oakland Athletics on September 30, winning 9-8 in 12 innings. Oakland lead 7-3 going into the bottom of the 8th, but KC plated three in the 8th and tied the game 7-7 in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings. After a few scoreless innings, the A’s went ahead 8-7 but KC answered with two runs in the bottom half to win the game and advance to the ALDS.
In the Division series, the Royals made quick work of the Los Angeles Angels, sweeping the series in three games. KC won the first two games on the road, 3-2 and 4-1 before routing the Angels 8-1 in the clincher at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals continued their winning ways by sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in four games during the ALCS. Starting again on the road, KC won the first two games at Camden Yards 8-6 and 6-4. When they returned to Kansas City, they won both games 2-1 to advance to the World Series.
The Giants didn’t quite cruise into the Series, because like most teams, they lost a playoff game or two on the way. They began by traveling to Pittsburgh and proceeded to destroy the Pirates 8-0. Madison Bumgarner started the San Fran rout and gave up just four hits in nine innings pitched, collecting 10 strikeouts along the way.
In the NLDS, they took down the Washington Nationals, who, by most estimations, were the favorite to win the National League, three games to one. Three of the four games were decided by one run, with the Giants winning games one and two in Washington, 3-2 and 2-1. On the brink of elimination, the Nats cruised to a 4-1 win in game three only to be sent home by the Giants in game four, after San Fran won 3-2.
In the Championship Series, the Giants faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals and won four games to one. After blanking the Cards 3-0 in game one, St. Louis won on a walk off home run by Kolten Wong to down the Giants 5-4. San Fran responded by winning the next two games 5-4 and 6-4.
Some Noteworthy Tid Bits
Madison Bumgarner will start Game 1 for the Giants while James Shields will be on the bump for the Royals. Bumgarner has a solid postseason track record, as he has a 2.67 ERA through 11 career postseason starts. Shields has struggled mightily in three postseason starts this year, as he’s given up 10 runs, but has a phenomenal bullpen t back him up.
These teams faced off in the regular season during interleague play. In August, the Royals swept the Giants in a three game series, 4-2, 5-0 and 7-2.
The Royals have won all eight playoff games they’ve been in this year and won the final three games of the 1985 World Series, meaning they have an 11 game post season winning streak.
The Royals have a historically good bullpen. Kevin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland have combined for a pitching juggernaut out of the pen, as each of them has ERA’s less than 1.50. Holland has amassed 46 saves this year and neither Wade nor Davis gave up a single home run all year, while Holland has allowed just one. According to SB Nation, this three-headed monster has combined for 17 1/3 innings pitched and have an ERA of just 1.40 and have collected 20 strikeouts. So even though the Royals have a solid rotation, which includes Shields and Jeremy Guthrie, the Giants may want to pile on runs early if they want to win this one.
One thing the Giants definitely have going for them is their experience. While that may sound like a cliché and certainly can’t be quantified, this same core of players won the World Series in 2012 and 2010. That has to count for something
The two teams seem on opposite ends of the spectrum. On one side you have the wily veterans San Francisco Giants. On the other hand you have the wide- eyed newbies that are the Kansas City Royals. Who will win? My prediction is the Royals in six.