by DONNIE VAPHIDES Section Editor
As the MLB Playoffs came to a close, the only two teams left standing were the Kansas City Royals and the San Fransisco Giants.
“The two teams were not the teams that I expected to make it into the World Series. The match-up should make for an exciting series and an interesting close to the baseball season,” said junior Xavier Van Sprang.
The Kansas City Royals started their season on a low note with an average record of 14-11 in the opening month of April.
As the year went on, people doubted that they would make the playoffs at all, as they placed behind divisional rivals the Detroit Tigers (who were viewed as World Series contenders) for most of the season.
They did not win their division, but they snuck in as the first wild card team in the American League by just two games in September. It took extra innings for the Royals to beat the Oakland Athletics, but they advanced and won every single game in the playoffs, sweeping the Los Angeles Angels, who had the best record in baseball (98 wins, 64 losses), and the Baltimore Orioles leading up to the World Series games.
The San Fransisco Giants had a similar campaign, but it was not one that was expected to be a struggle – they have won the World Series two of the past four years.
The team had a decent start to the season as they went 17-11 in the first month. However, in the middle of the year, the team began to struggle. They turned it around as the season was winding down, earning a six-game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers for the last wild card spot in the National League.
In their wild card game, they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in a blowout, which finished 8-0.
The odds were stacked against them, as they played the team with the best record in the National League – the Washington Nationals (96 wins, 66 losses). They swept them and advanced to play the 2011 champion St. Louis Cardinals. They won the series in just five games.
These two teams were “not supposed to be here,” according to the experts, but they defied the odds based off of their two strengths – the Royals’ strength being their solid pitching rotation and the Giants’ being their offense.
On paper, the teams are evenly matched. The Royals have had the best bullpen in baseball, meaning once the starting pitcher is done for the night, the pitchers in the dugout have been the best in taking over the games and getting the wins. Their relief pitcher (RP) won the first ever Mariano Rivera award this season, which is given to the best RP of the year with 46 saves.
The Giants have power hitters that are threats to hit the ball over the fence on any given time. They were in the top half of the league in batting average, home runs, runs batted in (RBI), and slugging percentage. They used powerful hitters like third basemen Pablo Sandoval, outfielder Hunter Pence, and catcher Buster Posey. They played a key role in the Giants finishing 11th in overall hitting.
When the teams played Game 1 on Tuesday, hitting for the Giants was key to their 7-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the series. They also took the identity of the Royals, where their pitching was key from Madison Bumgardner.
Wednesday showed a switch in the roles, as the dominance of the pitching went back to the Royals along with hitting, as they tied the series at one when they defeated the Giants 7-2.
“Based off of the first two games of the World Series, the finish should be a good one. The two teams have showed they can hit and pitch well on any given day. At this rate, it could go to a game seven. Both teams should be happy about this season no matter if they win or lose,” said junior Raymond Garcia.
With both teams playing at a high level, either one could walk away with the World Series Championship.
Which one do you think will go all the way?