San Francisco Giants face tough test in 2014 World Series


The champagne soaked-San Francisco Giants have overcome adverse odds and several cataclysmic injuries to reach familiar territory. The Giants are National League champions for the third time in five years, but the latest version of their unpredictable run to postseason glory has yet to reach a conclusion. Their epic 6-3 pennant-clinching win prospered an uproar of pure euphoria throughout AT&T Park as unlikely hero Travis Ishikawa rounded the bases, but a casual demeanor reigned in the clubhouse shortly thereafter, much unlike the Kansas City Royals’ eclectic methods of celebration after winning their first pennant in 29 years.

The 2014 World Series is billed as “dynasty vs. destiny,” but this isn’t a seven-game fight that pits David against Goliath. The Giants and Royals are evenly matched, adding intrigue to a Fall Classic that flaunts two teams who thrive in pressure-packed situations. Kansas City is not a prototypical American League club, despite bashing their way to baseball’s championship series with an explosion of clutch home runs. The Royals play small ball, like the Giants.

Oct 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Travis Ishikawa (45) runs the bases after hitting a walk off three run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning of game five of the 2014 NLCS playoff at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest advantage the Royals hold over the Giants lies in the speed department. But the list of clear-cut advantages ends there for Kansas City. The Royals are like the Giants in that they don’t commit mistakes. They simply don’t beat themselves, and that’s the way it should be. It’s also something the Giants aren’t accustomed to this postseason. San Francisco’s ability to frequently put the ball in play has often yielded positive results. Taking advantage of mistakes is a staple of Giants postseason baseball. It’s also something they likely won’t see much of against Kansas City.

The Royals have yet to lose a game this postseason, reeling off eight straight wins to bulldoze their way into relevancy. It’s distinctly unlikely for Kansas City to steamroll over a Giants team that has an impressive championship pedigree, but the Royals flat out believe that they can win. Their swag is currently untouchable, but the Giants can change that in a hurry.

Kansas City is averaging a stout 5.25 runs per game this postseason. They’ve bashed eight home runs and recorded 110 total bases, but extra-base hits aren’t the Royals’ only method of scoring runs. They’ve stolen 13 bases and have seven sacrifice hits. They’ve also registered three runs via the sacrifice fly. They scratch and claw their way to nail-biting wins in extra innings, just like the Giants. The Royals offense isn’t renowned for being a run-producing machine, but it doesn’t have to be. Their pitching staff has been outstanding, holding postseason opponents to a .210 batting average against.

But the Giants have been slightly better in the pitching category, posting a stingy 2.18 ERA. Opponents have recorded a measly .192 batting average against the orange and black, and have often struggled with runners in scoring position. In a series that figures to be low scoring, the team that comes through with clutch two-out hits is going to win. The Giants had struggled in that regard for a decent chunk of the playoffs until Game 4 of the NLCS. They’re now faced with the challenge of capitalizing on early chances against the Royals, who boast a bullpen built for the World Series.

Kansas City feels like it’s their destiny to take the crown in 2014. The Giants don’t share sentiments of, “This is our year,” rather, they casually go about their business with a winner’s mentality. Nothing is guaranteed in October. The Giants know this. They also know the Royals are for real. But Kansas City has yet to be knocked down. When they fall and that swag wavers a bit, they’ll be forced to recover. If they flash signs of vulnerability, much like the Cardinals did in Game 3 of the NLCS, the Giants will be ready to chomp at the bit.