Staff picks: World Series

photo: Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports

By The Intrepid Staff

ARLINGTON, TX — The 116th World Series in Major League Baseball’s history will begin on Tuesday evening, with the American League’s Tampa Bay Rays pitted against the National League’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

Despite these franchises being built in very different ways (LAD payroll is nearly four times higher than TB), each team entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in their respective leagues. Here’s who our staff predicts will be crowned as baseball’s next champion.

Sean Casey, staff writer: Dodgers in 5

Series MVP: Cody Bellinger

As amazing as the Rays’ pitching has been, the Dodgers’ bats are going to be too much for them to handle.

LA also has a lot more experienced veterans that have been on this stage before, and I believe that the Dodgers are hungrier for this ring than the Rays are and will not be take their foot off the gas. TB will steal one game, but that’s all. The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, and they deserve this championship.

Jeff Uveino, editor-in-chief: Dodgers in 7

Series MVP: Cody Bellinger

It’s tempting to pick the darling Rays, but in the COVID-19 year of sports that has seemed to favor the top teams (Tampa Bay Lightning won Stanley Cup, LA Lakers won NBA Finals), the Dodgers get it done.

Too much depth and star power on the perennial contender.

Anthony Goss, staff writer: Dodgers in 7

Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Dustyn Green, staff writer: Dodgers in 4

Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Ryan Surmay, staff writer: Dodgers in 6

Series MVP: Cody Bellinger

Connor Raine, staff writer/photographer: Rays in 6

Series MVP: Randy Arozarena

Peter Byrne, staff writer: Rays in 7

Series MVP: Ji-Man Choi

Tom Doyle, staff writer: Dodgers in 7

Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Nic Gelyon, staff writer: Rays in 7

Series MVP: Ji-Man Choi

Royals dominate to force Game 7

Every year, sports fans wait in anticipation as their championship game comes to a close.  Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout, Bill Mazeroski’s walk off homerun, and Luis Gonzalez’s bloop single all come to mind when baseball fans think of game sevens.  MLB fans may be able to witness another historic game on Wednesday as the Kansas City Royals match up with the San Francisco Giants in Kansas City for game seven of the 2014 World Series.

The Royals blew past the San Francisco 10-0 in game six.  Kauffman Stadium was electric as fans stood and cheered from the first pitch to the final out.

Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura, who honored the late Oscar Taveras on his hat, drew comparisons to the great Pedro Martinez as he dominated the Giants from the mound.  The 5’10 fire-baller from the Dominican Republic allowed only three hits in seven innings pitched.  Ventura struck out four batters.

Ventura’s counterpart Jake Peavy did not fare as well.  Peavy was removed in the second inning after allowing five runs on six hits.

Kansas City erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the second inning.  Young Royals stars Mike Moustakas, Nori Aoki, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler all registered RBI hits in the inning.  Kansas City had eight hits in the inning.

They tacked on another run in the third after two ground-rule doubles by Omar Infante and Cain.

San Francisco regrouped as reliever Jean Machi came out from the bullpen to deal three solid innings.  Machi cruised until the fifth when Alcides Escobar lined a double to left field.  Infante ran through a stop sign by the third-base coach and slid into home plate just ahead of Travis Ishikawa’s throw.

A solo homerun to right field by Moustakas gave the Royals their double digit lead.

This year’s World Series is the second time that two Wild Card teams have represented their respective leagues.  The first one, in 2002, saw the American League Los Angeles Angels rally back from a three-games-to-two deficit to beat none other than the San Francisco Giants.

The Royals, who were also down three-to-two, will start longtime Baltimore Oriole Jeremy Guthrie. San Francisco will counter with longtime Atlanta Brave and Oakland Athletic Tim Hudson. Ace Madison Bumgarner will also be available from the bullpen.​

Giants win in emotional day for MLB

The San Francisco Giants’ 5-0 victory in game five of the World Series was overshadowed by the sudden death of St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospect Oscar Taveras.  Taveras and his girlfriend were killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic.  The 22 year old rookie played 80 games for the Cardinals this season and is best remembered for a game-tying pinch-hit homerun in game two of the NLCS against the Giants two weeks ago.

Following the win, San Francisco is one win away from their third World Series title in the last five years.  Team ace Madison Bumgarner pitched the first World Series shutout since Josh Beckett in 2003 for the Florida Marlins.

Bumgarner struck out eight batters.  The All-Star right hander has only allowed one earned run in 31 World Series innings.  He currently holds the record for lowest series ERA with a 0.21 ERA.

San Francisco scored their first run in the bottom of the second inning.  Hunter Pence led off the inning with a single before eventually coming around on an RBI groundout by Brandon Crawford.

Crawford drove in his second run of the night with an RBI single on a soft liner to center to score Pablo Sandoval in the bottom of the fourth.

Teams traded scoreless innings back-and-forth until the eighth inning.

The Giants erupted for three runs on four hits in the eighth.  Sandoval and Pence led off the inning with singles before Juan Perez hit a two-run double.  Perez came around to score on an RBI single by Crawford to make the score 5-0.

Royals’ starter James Shields had another rough postseason outing.  He gave up eight hits in six innings allowing two runs to score.

Star reliever Kelvin Herrera had an uncharacteristic tough outing.  He allowed two runs in an inning pitched.  He walked one batter.

The Series moves back to Kansas City for game six on Tuesday.  Jake Peavy will toe the rubber for the Giants while Yordano Ventura will pitch for the Royals.

 

Giants steamroll Royals to tie series at two

The San Francisco Giants put on an offensive clinic in their 11-4 win over the Kansas City Royals in game four of the 2014 World Series.

Hunter Pence continued his hot streak, going 3-5 with a double, three RBIs, and two runs scored.  Gregor Blanco scored two runs and stole third base in the top of the first.

Blanco scored in the top of the first when Pence grounded out to third base.

The Giants’ lead did not last long, however.  Kansas City tied the game in the top of the third when Eric Hosmer grounded an RBI infield single to first baseman Brandon Belt.

They took the lead when Omar Infante hit a two-run single to center field giving the Royals a 3-1 lead and tacked on another run on an RBI single by Salvador Perez.

San Francisco fought back and added a run in the bottom of the inning when Buster Posey hit an RBI single which allowed Matt Duffy to score from second base.

The Giants tied the game in the bottom of the fifth when Pence hit an RBI single and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Juan Perez.

The next inning, the Giants took a lead they would never relinquish.  Third baseman Pablo Sandoval lined a two-run single to center field to drive in Posey and Blanco.  Belt registered his first hit of the ballgame with an RBI single to follow Sandoval giving the Giants a 7-4 lead by the end of the inning.

The offense did not cool down there as San Francisco added four more runs in the bottom of the seventh.  A misplayed bunt by Blanco, two-run double by rookie Joe Panik, and run scoring double by Pence gave the Giants an insurmountable 11-4 lead.

The Giants recorded sixteen hits in the victory.

Brandon Finnegan took the loss for Kansas City.  The rookie allowed five earned runs to score on five hits in one inning pitched.  Finnegan became the first player to pitch in the College World Series and MLB World Series in the same year as he played for Texas Christian University before this year’s MLB draft.

Yusmeiro Petit earned the win for the Giants in relief.  Petit pitched a solid three innings where he only allowed two hits and struck out two.

San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong only lasted two and two-thirds innings.  He allowed four runs on seven hits before being pulled from the game.

Royals’ starter Jason Vargas pitched four innings.  He allowed three runs on six hits.

Game five will be held in San Francisco tomorrow night at 8 pm.  Team aces James Shields (Royals) and Madison Bumgarner (Giants) will square off in a rematch of game one.

Royals tie World Series at one

By Nate Discavage @DiscavageSavage
The Kansas City Royals entered the bottom of the sixth inning tied at two with the San Francisco Giants.  By the time the dust settled, Kansas City emerged with a 7-2 lead.  Omar Infante punctuated the victory with a two-run homerun off reliever Hunter Strickland in the sixth.  Billy Butler and Salvador Perez both had RBI hits in the inning.
Kelvin Herrera earned the win for Kansas City.  The 5’10 reliever from the Dominican Republic pitched one and two-thirds hitless innings.  Herrera struck out one and walked two.
Giants’ starter Jake Peavy suffered the loss in Game 2.  He allowed four runs off of six hits in five innings pitched.  Peavy was a vital member of the Boston Red Sox’s pitching rotation in the 2013 World Series.
Royals starter Yordano Ventura pitched five and one-third innings yielding two runs on eight hits.  He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
Gregor Blanco hit a leadoff homerun for the Giants in the top of the first inning.  Blanco only had five homeruns during the regular season.
Lorenzo Cain hit a two-out hustle double to left-center in the bottom of the inning.  Butler tied the game with his first RBI single of the game.
Infante hit a one-out double in the bottom of the second.  He came around to score on an RBI double by Alcides Escobar to put the Royals on top 2-1.
The lead did not last long as Buster Posey hit an RBI double to right field to tie it at two in the top of the fourth.
The game remained tied until the Royals exploded for five runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Infante led both teams offensively going 2-3 with a homerun, double, two RBIs, and two runs.  All nine Giants starters had a base hit in the game.
It was the Giants’ first World Series loss since Game 3 of the 2010 series.
Game 3 will be held in San Francisco on Friday.  Jeremy Guthrie will start the game for Kansas City while Tim Hudson will toe the rubber for San Francisco.​

Giants blow past Royals to take Game One

By Nate Discavage @DiscavageSavage

The Kansas City Royals’ postseason winning streak came to an end tonight against the San Francisco Giants in game one of the 2014 World Series.  Kansas City lost its first playoff game since game four of the 1985 World Series.

The Giants, winners of three National League pennants in the last five seasons, dominated the upbeat Kansas City team on the mound, from the batter’s box, and on the field.

Madison Bumgarner earned the win for the Giants.  The 6’5 southpaw out of Hickory, North Carolina allowed one run on three hits in seven innings pitched, striking out five.

“He’s special; he has the flare for the spectacular,” Giants’ right fielder Hunter Pence said of Bumgarner’s performance in a postgame interview.

James “Big Game” Shields had anything but as he suffered the loss.  Shields continued his postseason struggles allowing five runs on seven hits in only three innings.  He has a 5.66 postseason ERA in his career.

The Giants set the tone of the game early with a three-run first inning.  Pablo Sandoval hit an RBI double before coming around to score on Pence’s homerun.

Kansas City threatened in the bottom of the third following a San Francisco error and Mike Moustakas double with no outs before Bumgarner struck out two and forced a groundout to end the frame.

San Francisco padded its lead in the fourth with an RBI single by Michael Morse and bases loaded walk by Gregor Blanco all with one out.

Rookie Joe Panik hit a fly ball to right field in the top of the seventh that was misplayed by Royal’s outfielder Nori Aoki and fell in for an RBI triple.  Sandoval’s second hit of the night gave his team their seventh run of the night.

The Royals ended Bumgarner’s World Series scoreless streak at 21 innings when Salvador Perez launched a fastball over the left field fence but failed to make much noise in the game to make it 7-1.

Pence led both teams offensively going 2-3 with a homerun, double, two RBIs, two runs, and two walks.  Sandoval reached base three times and drove in two.

The Giants have won eight straight playoff series since 2010 and look to push it two nine against the Royals.

Game two will start tomorrow at 8 p.m. on FOX.  Jake Peavy will start for San Francisco while Yordano Ventura will toe the rubber for Kansas City.

World Series Preview

By Nate Discavage @DiscavageSavage

 

Nobody predicted that the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants would make this year’s World Series (let alone make the playoffs), but that’s the beauty of baseball.  After 162 regular season games and three playoff series, it all comes down to four more wins.

The Giants won their third National League pennant in the last five years and are loaded with playoff experience.  The Royals, on the other hand, have not made the playoffs since 1985.  The Giants return playoff veterans Madison Bumgardner, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval.  The Royals are trying to brush off comparisons to the 2007 Colorado Rockies (sweep through the playoffs before getting swept in the World Series).

Here’s a position-by-position breakdown comparing the two squads:

Catcher:

While the Royals’ Salvador Perez came through with the game-winning hit in the Wild Card Game against Oakland, he has done little to help the team throughout the rest the of postseason.  2012 NL MVP Buster Posey has led the Giants from behind the plate and looks to win his third World Series Ring.

Advantage: San Francisco

1st Base:

Brandon Belt has resurrected his career with the Giants after teetering on the brink of being a draft-day bust.  Despite spending some time on the disabled list during the season, he has performed well for San Francisco this year.  Eric Hosmer had a bounce back year for the Royals after a disappointing 2013 season.  He has been one of the sparkplugs in Kansas City’s rejuvenated offense this postseason.

Advantage: Kansas City

2nd Base:

Omar Infante has played for four teams in his 11 year career but has provided veteran leadership for the young Kansas City squad.  Although he may not have the best offensive statistics in the league, his strong defense and advice for younger players has led the team to where they are now.  Giants’ rookie Joe Panik was not even born the last time Kansas City made the playoffs.  He had a great season with San Francisco the second half of the season and has come through in the clutch when needed to.

Advantage: Kansas City

3rd Base:

San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval won the World Series MVP in 2012.  He has the experience needed to lead a team and will sign a huge contract this offseason as one of the league’s best available free agents.  Mike Moustakas has been clutch in the playoffs hitting four homeruns in the eight games but barely hit his own weight in the regular season (.212 AVG).

Advantage:  San Francisco

Shortstop:

Brandon Crawford has been the definition of an average MLB player since his career began in 2011.  While he is not a superstar, he will be remembered in San Francisco for his great defensive play and long hair.  The Royals’ Alcides Escobar definitely has one of the league’s most unique names.  He has speed which has helped Kansas City throughout the playoffs, but has hit an empty .278 though the playoffs without much to show for it.

Advantage: Even

Left Field:

Five days before the regular season ended, Giants’ Travis Ishikawa had never played a game of left field in his career.  He wrote his name in San Francisco history, however, with a walk-off homerun to send the Giants to the World Series.  Kansas City’s Alex Gordon has become a nationally recognized star this season.  He has wowed MLB with his great defensive ability along with his amazing offensive performance.  Gordon has solidified himself as a leader on the Kansas City team for years to come.

Advantage: Kansas City

Centerfield:

Gregor Blanco was brought on to replace injured Giants’ centerfielder Angel Pagan late in the season.  He has superb range in the outfield and has excelled as Pagan’s backup.  Lorenzo Cain is the reason the Royals are still in the playoffs with a key double and stolen base in the Wild Card game against the A’s.  Cain is just as good defensively and definitely faster.

Advantage:  Kansas City

Right Field:

All-Star Hunter Pence has already won his first ring with the Giants in 2012 after being acquired halfway through the season from Philadelphia.  Since joining San Francisco, he has hit 78 homeruns in the three-and-a-half years he’s been there.  Nori Aoki has come up big for the Royals in the playoffs; however, he cannot match the talent of Pence.

Advantage: San Francisco

Designated Hitter:

For Kansas City home games, the Designated Hitter rule will be in effect allowing longtime Royals DH Billy Butler to contribute for his team.  While his offensive contribution has dropped slightly in recent years, he seems just like his young self in the playoffs this year.  San Francisco will go with Michael Morse as a DH in the World Series.  Morse hit the game-tying homerun to set up Ishikawa’s game-winning in the NLCS but is still recovering from an injury sustained earlier in the season.

Advantage: Kansas City

Starting Rotation:

While the Royals have their ace James Shields leading them in game one, they will have a hard time matching up with the potent San Francisco rotation.  Madison Bumgardner, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, and Ryan Vogelsong look to shut down the streaky Royals’ offense in the Fall Classic.

Advantage:  San Francisco

Bullpen:

The Giants have a solid bullpen with relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Castilla.  The Royals, however, are loaded with the “Three-Headed Monster” of Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, and Greg Holland.  Brandon Finnegan has been solid out of the pen for Kansas City.

Advantage: Kansas City

Final Prediction:  Giants win four games to two over Kansas City

Tune in tonight at 8PM for first pitch tonight on FOX for Game 1 in Kansas City.