Royals vs. Giants - 2014 World Series - Watch Live Stream Free [Fox TV Schedule & Preview]: Three Key Position Breakdowns for Game 1
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Wild Card teams aren't supposed to reach the World Series but this time the San Francisco Giants will take on the Kansas City Royals on the evening of October 21, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri for Game 1. The start time is 8:00 pm ET and it can be watched online via live stream on the link provided below.
Major League Baseball's play-in game isn't as much about reaching the Fall Classic as it is about giving clubs more incentive to play out their remaining regular season schedule.
Yet, here the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals stand, four victories from a champion few outside of their respective fan bases imagined. In some ways the Royals and Giants' postseason journeys are mirror images of each other. Each team's mantra, as usual with World Series-bound teams, centered around clutch hitting, exceptional bullpens, and stellar starting rotations.
Aside from Kansas City's wild-card tilt with Oakland, neither pitching staff gave up more than five runs in a single outing. Neither allowed an opponent batting average above .210. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers held a better overall batting average (.285) and they couldn't muster more than 15 total runs.
One of few differences is that Kansas City needed four extra-inning victories whereas San Francisco needed just one; the Royals set an American League record for consecutive extra-inning playoff games. Everything else is a toss-up, including comparable strengths and weaknesses. Let's look at three key position breakdowns heading into Tuesday night's opener.
Starting Pitching Advantage: Giants
Most of San Francisco's starting rotation already has championship hardware. Game One starter Madison Bumgarner tossed 15 shutout innings in 2010 and 2012 World Series' appearances. Former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and potential Game Four starter Ryan Vogelsong earned a victory a piece in the Giants' last two title runs. As starters, only Washington holds a lower postseason ERA; San Francisco carries a 2.40 mark over 63 2/3 innings.
James Shield was the only Royal pitcher with playoff experience heading into 2014. "Big Game James" shut out Philadelphia through 5 2/3 innings of the 2008 Fall Classic but hasn't garnered much success since. Shields has yielded four or more earned runs in four of five postseason outings since facing the Phillies and hasn't gone past the sixth inning in any.
Royals' Manager Ned Yost has 23-year-old Yordano Ventura slated to pitch Wednesday night. The same Ventura whose compiled a 4.85 ERA over 13 innings thus far. The same flamethrower who gave A's batters two runs on 13 pitches in the wild-card round. There isn't much else Yost can do to compete with San Francisco's established rotation.
Outfield Advantage: Royals
Kansas City's single-handedly won the American League Division Series. ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain made stellar play after stellar play in silencing Los Angeles Angels' bats; a group that ranked among Major League leaders in runs, hits, and RBI. Baltimore managed only seven extra-base hits in their ALCS sweep. Seldom did the Angels and Orioles find open gaps, and when they did Cain and Norichika Aoki hastily filled it.
Gordon's 6.6 WAR -seventh among AL outfielders-gives the Royals a considerable advantage over the Giants. He made huge defensive plays against Baltimore, many which exhibited his great range and above-average arm, and launched a decisive 10th- inning home run against the Angels in the ALDS. San Francisco right fielder Hunter Pence is a comparable power threat without a similar supporting cast.
Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa are only starting because of injuries to Angel Pagan and Michael Morse. The duo hasn't done much apart from Ishikawa's pennant-clinching home run against St. Louis. They don't have Kansas City's quickness, or their highlight-reel defense.
Managing Advantage: Giants
Bruch Bochy is headed to Cooperstown when his managerial career ends. Three World Series appearances in five years all but assure it.
Bochy's best trait is his ability to adapt to an ever-changing game. He's successfully helped Lincecum and Vogelsong find their groove after career-worst slumps. Bochy's given Morse and Blanco second lives when other team's had written them off. Every move Bochy makes, whether it be an in-game decision or a roster adjustment, is a calculated risk; one that's worked to considerable success.
Yost's faced heavy criticism throughout the season, none more than in the Royals' play-in game with Oakland. He used Ventura to get out of a sixth-inning jam that ended with Ventura surrendering two runs. He pulled Shields after just 88 pitches when it appeared as if the team's ace still had more than enough left in the tank. The Royals' defeated the A's despite Yost's managing.
Mistakes are magnified in the World Series. Tactical mistakes are exploited. If Yost wants to play small ball, as was so successful against Los Angeles and Baltimore, he has to be ready to answer to its consequences.
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