The Major League Baseball 2014 World Series is set, and we have 2 wild card teams, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. The Detroit Tigers who beat the Royals to win the American League Central Division and the Los Angeles Dodgers who beat the Giants to clinch the National League West Division title have to be scratching their heads wondering how this happened.
This postseason the strengths of the Royals and Giants, which is deep bullpens and great defense, propelled them to become League Champions. The playoff format actually helped accentuate one of those strengths. With days off between rounds and additional off days to travel, the relief pitchers receive rest they normally wouldn’t have during the regular season. This way Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland were able to pitch in nearly every game for the Royals and Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla were able do the same for the Giants. With these guys posting zeros, the Royals and Giants were able to outlast their opponents in tight ballgames.
The Royals have gone a perfect 8 and 0, but this team was almost eliminated in the wild card game against the Oakland A’s. They were 4 runs behind in the 8th inning when they launched this amazing run that has seen them go undefeated, The team with the fewest home runs, suddenly began hitting game winning home runs, while robbing opponents of base hits with highlight film catches by Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas.
Similarly, the Giants had catches by guys like Hunter Pence, but primarily they played solid defense while waiting to take advantage of the miscues of their opponents. In the 10th inning of game 3, Cardinal relief pitcher, Randy Choate made a horrible throw in the vicinity of first base to give the Giants that game. In game 4, Cardinal first baseman, Matt Adams made shaky throws to home and to second base to allow the Giants to score the tying and go ahead runs. San Francisco is like a pest you can’t get rid of. They keep hanging around and the moment you make a mistake they take advantage of it. Tonight, they closed out the Cardinal season by scoring in more conventional fashion, with a walk off 3-run home run by Travis Ishikawa. Not that it’s conventional for Ishikawa to hit a home run. At least the Cardinals fans still have their memories of 2011. Regardless, in this post season, the Giants and the Royals are very good at finding ways to win.