Posey faces tough task behind the plate against speedy Royals

Catcher looks to contain Kansas City with help from pitching staff

Posey faces tough task behind the plate against speedy Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Buster Posey casts an assertive presence as a hitter, but he could loom even larger in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals when he settles into his catcher's crouch.

You might say that Posey's offense won't mean squat if he struggles defensively against the Royals, who led the Major Leagues this year with 153 stolen bases and have accelerated that pace in the postseason. Kansas City almost surely will attempt to run away from the Giants as Posey's team begins its quest on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. PT airtime/5:07 PT first pitch, FOX) to win its third World Series in five years.

More

Posey knows what to expect from the Royals, who stole 13 bases while building their 8-0 postseason record. Since eight different players have contributed to that total, Posey must remain constantly alert.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"Watching them for the last month or so, they're obviously very aggressive and have a ton of speed, and I would expect them to try and use that," he said.

The Giants witnessed Kansas City's prowess on the basepaths all too vividly on Aug. 10. The Royals stole seven bases, including three apiece from Nori Aoki and Jarrod Dyson, in a 7-4 Interleague victory. Since the Giants started rookie catcher Andrew Susac that afternoon, they hope that Posey can inhibit the Royals to some degree.

"I'm sure he's going to do something different this time around," Dyson said. "I'm sure our 'bags' are going to be much tougher to take on these guys. But we're not going to stop. They give us an inch, we're going to run a mile."

Posey threw out 29.8 percent (25-of-84) of runners trying to steal this year, essentially duplicating his 30 percent (27-of-90) success rate last season. However, these figures are almost irrelevant, because he'll need plenty of help from Giants pitchers to halt the Royals even partially. Many bases are stolen not on catchers, but on pitchers who pay insufficient attention to baserunners. Whoever's on the mound for the Giants will be obligated to help Posey by stepping off the pitching rubber, varying his rhythm on pitches and pickoff throws, executing an occasional pitchout or simply holding the ball.

"You have to do everything, you know?" Royals catcher Salvador Perez said when asked what ploys he would use if he were opposing his teammates. "They like to run. They never stop."

Whether Giants pitchers can begin to slow down the Royals is questionable. San Francisco allowed 107 stolen bases this year, tied for seventh-most in the Majors. "Any time you get a good basestealer, it's important to do a lot of things to disrupt them," Posey said. "[Pitchers] have to vary holds and mix delivery times, and it's going to be important for me to be ready to make a good throw."

Kansas City's opponents realized this, but three Royals still finished among the American League's top 10 in thefts: Dyson (tied for third, 36 steals), Alcides Escobar (tied for fifth, 31) and Lorenzo Cain (seventh, 28).

Significantly, Kansas City's hitters accumulated the fewest strikeouts in the Majors, maximizing the club's opportunities to distract foes.

"When we put the ball in play, we're giving ourselves a chance," Dyson said. "We've got legs, we're going to use them and when we put it on the ground, we're going to drop the head and run. You put everybody on their toes when speed steps on first base. ... Speed puts a lot of pressure on every team. I'm just glad we're the team that has more speed."

Countered Giants right-hander Tim Hudson, "It's our job as a staff to control that running game, and I think we can do that. They're probably going to try to force us to make mistakes in that area. We just have to keep our composure."

Among the Giants starters, Hudson has actually had the toughest time controlling the running game in recent years. Basestealers have been successful on 22 of 26 attempts over the last two seasons against the scheduled Game 3 starter. Ryan Vogelsong, who is set to take the ball in Game 4, has been a little better, allowing 17 steals in 27 tries in the same time span, while Game 2 starter Jake Peavy has always had a tough time holding runners, allowing a 75 percent success rate over his 13-year career. Game 1 starter Madison Bumgarner has the best recent track record, with runners succeeding just 47 percent of the time the last two years.

Of course, keeping runners off base is the best way to conquer them. This is where Posey's receiving skills emerge as a potential factor. Concluding his fifth season in the Majors, he has become more deft at framing pitches, thus coaxing more called strikes from umpires.

"Something that I take a lot of pride in is trying to get my pitchers strikes," Posey said. "It's one of those things that, unless you're a catcher, you probably don't see. But I don't get much more frustrated than when I feel like I could have [caught] the ball better and maybe gotten a strike call. So that's something I'm constantly trying to improve on. I feel like I've gotten better. I think it's a repetition thing. The more you catch a certain guy, it's easier to -- I don't know if 'cheat' is the right word, but you kind of know the way the ball's going to move. So it might be a little bit easier to catch the ball a certain way that might present it as a strike to the umpire."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a former big league catcher, maintains unshakable confidence in Posey. "He takes priority in handling this staff," Bochy said.

It'll be a top priority for the duration of the World Series.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

MadBum brings unique delivery, experience for Giants in Game 1

MadBum brings unique delivery, experience for Giants in Game 1

KANSAS CITY -- At first glance, Madison Bumgarner's delivery is an impossibility. It begins conventionally enough, with just the slightest twist of his torso away from home plate. But as Bumgarner transfers his weight from his left foot to his right, he swings the baseball oddly behind his head, swooping his arm down and releasing it at an extreme left-handed angle. The first time same-sided hitters catch a good look at the baseball, it appears to be hurtling toward the plate from behind them. Right-handers see the ball barreling in on their hands.

In full speed, it looks like mechanical anarchy -- a mess of arms and legs and impractical angles. Yet there is order to it. There is a foundation. There is regulation. When Bumgarner starts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. PT on FOX, 5:07 p.m. PT first pitch), he will showcase one of the game's most unconventional deliveries, which he spent the past decade crafting into one of baseball's best.

More

"It just works for him," Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland said.

It works because Bumgarner has fine-tuned what was once a fast-paced delivery into an almost lethargic assault of the plate. As a prospect, Bumgarner possessed many of the same tools he has now, at age 25, but he struck out fewer batters and walked more of them. Like most young pitchers, his command suffered when he could not repeat his delivery.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

The breakthrough came when Bumgarner learned to slow his mechanics without smoothing their unorthodoxy. He now brings the ball back far behind his head and almost pauses there, tempting opposing hitters to sneak a peek at his grip. Then he reverses action and delivers his pitches with what Royals hitter Billy Butler called "tremendous crossfire," creating an angle unique enough to befuddle most hitters -- with velocity difficult to anticipate from such a slow mechanical unfolding.

"It's a different angle than most guys use for sure," Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "He's slowed his delivery down. He's very much under control."

The results have been plain to see. Bumgarner is coming off a fourth consecutive standout season and a second straight elite one. In the regular season, he pitched to an 18-10 record and 2.98 ERA over 33 starts, setting career highs in innings, strikeouts and strikeout rate -- and a career best in walk rate.

In October, Bumgarner has only improved. The left-hander has already pitched four times this month, including a four-hitter against the Pirates in the Wild Card Game. He is 3-1 with a 1.42 ERA, holding opposing batters to a .212 on-base percentage.

"Like all players, they get better," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They work hard at trying to improve as a player. You never arrive as a player. That's what we try to remind these guys so you never stop trying to improve. Madison has done that."

"He's definitely a tough matchup," Butler said. "You just don't see it every day."

In some ways, Bumgarner's deception runs beyond arm action or mechanics. Hailing from Hickory, N.C., a rural patch of land sandwiched between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Tobacco Road, Bumgarner speaks with a drawl and talks slowly. He does not reveal much of himself when he does.

But Bumgarner is a voracious student of all things baseball. As a child, he watched Randy Johnson pitch on television and shaped his left-handed delivery after him. After arriving at South Caldwell High School as a "tall, lanky kid," according to his coach at the time, Jeff Parham, Bumgarner poured hours into the weight room.

"He ended up becoming such a beast," Parham said. "He was like a man among boys. By his junior year, the size he had was just so impressive. His demeanor, the way he handled himself on the mound, he was like a professional."

Now a bona fide pro, Bumgarner is still doing the same types of things, picking up tips from other pitchers he admires. Studying Jon Lester, Bumgarner learned to use all quadrants of the strike zone, helping him neutralize right-handed hitters despite his open delivery. When Bumgarner struggled to control the running game, he modeled his slide step after Clayton Kershaw's.

Bumgarner does not watch much video leading up to starts, trusting his own strengths over others' weaknesses. He spends his early innings gauging hitters' reactions, then alters his style if necessary. That is partially how, in National League Championship Series Game 5, Bumgarner retired 13 in a row after giving up three runs on five hits in his first 3 2/3 innings.

"I just get myself prepared and ready to go out and make pitches, and try to read the situation and make adjustments when I need to," Bumgarner said. "I don't want to have one game plan, and be stuck in that game plan if it's not working."

Rarely these days does that happen. Rarely does Bumgarner falter. And if the Giants are to win their third World Series in five years, giving Bumgarner three rings before his 26th birthday, they will need their NLCS MVP to be at his twisting, swooping, cross-firing best.

"He thinks and believes he's the best on the field when he's out there," teammate Tim Hudson said. "And any great pitcher throughout the history of the game, when they take that mound, they've got to believe the other team doesn't have a chance in heck to beat them. He's one of those guys."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

New WS gear player tested, fan approved

Wear the same hoodies, T-shirts and caps as the Giants

New WS gear player tested, fan approved

KANSAS CITY -- Welcome to the 110th World Series. Fitting for a first-of-its-kind Fall Classic matchup, there is a fresh and must-have look being modeled by the Giants themselves on the field for Workout Day at Kauffman Stadium, and now it can be yours.

Orders for the new line of Orange October apparel are underway exclusively at the MLB.com Shop and at the Giants Dugout Store.

More

The Giants are taking aim at their third World Series title in five years, and there is some fresh gear just for the occasion. Order the Orange October quarter-zip hooded fleece right now and get ready for the weekend action at AT&T Park, starting with Game 3 on Friday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

Giants catcher Buster Posey sat behind his table at the interview session late in the afternoon and marveled at that same orange hood that teammate Travis Ishikawa -- hero of the National League Championship Series clincher -- was modeling at the table to his right.

"When I see a sweatshirt like that, I think about fans," Posey said, between answers about Madison Bumgarner's success and trying to contain Kansas City on the basepaths. "It makes me proud that I get to play at AT&T Park. Those fans come out strong all year, so it's exciting to us to get to play at this time of the year at AT&T Park."

"They keep changing it up and it never really gets old, getting all the World Series gear," shortstop Brandon Crawford added. "It's always fun to be back here. We definitely have some postseason experience, and the same core group of players have been here for a lot of postseason games. We'll see if it's any kind of advantage. [The Royals] are playing real well right now. They're going to have something to prove also."

Outfielder Gregor Blanco was wearing that same orange hood in the interview session and said it was "a dream come true" when he saw the new gear in his locker.

"To be able to see a World Series in 2014, and all the stuff we have from the World Series -- the hat, the field with the logo -- that's a dream come true for everybody," Blanco said. "To me, 'Orange October' really means the blood, like our faith in the orange and black, you know? Our faith in our team. Instead of red blood, we should have orange, because we really believe in each other and we give everything to the team."

Major League Baseball's line of World Series merchandise is also available right now, including the Women's Half-Zip Wind Jacket from Nike Golf and the Always World Series Hooded Fleece from Majestic Athletic.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

In an era of parity, Giants closing in on dynasty status

If San Francisco wins it all, club belongs in discussion of game's best

In an era of parity, Giants closing in on dynasty status

KANSAS CITY -- Is it possible to have a dynasty only in even-numbered years?

In an era of baseball parity, the answer is yes. This is the most anyone could reasonably expect out of one team. That team in this case would be the San Francisco Giants.

More

World Series champions in 2010. World Series champions in 2012. Let's see; '10, '12, what year comes next in that sequence? If the Giants were to win everything again in '14, it would not be the same as the Yankees winning five straight championships from 1949-53. But three out of five, in the era of enhanced competitive balance, would put the Giants in a postseason category all by themselves.

How do the Giants do it? Pitching and defense, and then they scrape together whatever timely hitting is necessary. They also stay humble, which is both helpful and refreshing.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"I'm amazed at these guys," manager Bruce Bochy said Monday at Kauffman Stadium on the eve of Game 1 of the 2014 World Series Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET airtime/8:07 ET first pitch, FOX). "I've told them that, at how hard they fought to get here. Again, it's a tough road and you're going through some good clubs. I mean, we had to go through Washington. We had to go through St. Louis. They've amazed me."

The Giants have won eight straight postseason series. Amazing works. So would astounding and incredible. But when you pitch and play defense better than the other guys, you can own October.

What's the common theme running through this eight-series winning streak?

"Pitching," said reliever Jeremy Affeldt. "You talk to [general manager] Brian Sabean, and he put a pitching staff together. And if you watch the playoffs and you watch how they're won, especially the last five, six, seven years, it's based around pitching.

"When we've won in the playoffs and the World Series, we've pitched. And we have good defense and clutch hitting. Pitching and defense are going to win you games. I know it's a cliche answer, but until you can prove to me otherwise, I'll stick with that answer. You have two teams here that are based on pitching and defense."

And these Giants teams are superbly managed. Bochy, at this point, is probably a Hall of Fame manager. He's seriously understated about his role, but don't mistake unassuming for an absence of ambition. The Giants never stop pushing.

"You never arrive as a player," Bochy said. "That's what we try to remind these guys, so you never stop trying to improve."

The Giants probably haven't received enough credit for winning two out of the last four World Series. This may be because they have been merely mortal in the odd-numbered seasons. They went 86-76 and finished second in the National League West in 2011. They finished 76-86 and in fourth place in '13.

There were reasons, there were injuries, but coming into 2014, the Giants were undersold. As far as prognostications, in the NL West, it was all Dodgers all the time.

The Giants, meanwhile, are here in another World Series, despite losing some key personnel to injuries, such as starting pitcher Matt Cain, second baseman Marco Scutaro, center fielder and leadoff man Angel Pagan. The ability to rise above this sort of adversity is one hallmark of a successful team and a successful organization.

By now, the Giants come to any postseason situation with confidence, poise and the highest of expectations, all born of repeated October success.

"That's the experience that kicks in," Affeldt said. "In 2012, we were down, 2-0, against Cincinnati in a Division Series and we were down, 3-1, against St. Louis [in the NL Championship Series]. Some of it is scrappy. Some of it is, stuff had to go our way.

"But I think if anything has helped us, we play a lot of close ballgames. If you play close ballgames and put pressure on the pitching staff, pressure on the defense, that's been our goal, to keep it close and then let's see what we can do. Both teams will feel the pressure and then we'll see which one gives in.

"To be able to say eight straight, you're right, that's awesome. I can't tell you there's a formula, but we just want to continue to execute. That's what we've done. There's no secret to it. We've just kept executing pitches."

By now, people who have been paying attention can't sell the Giants short. The Royals swept the Giants in a three-game series here in August. This will not lead Kansas City to underestimate San Francisco.

"The team that we saw was a team that was struggling," Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie said. "I don't think there is anybody on this team that would even come close to mistaking the team that we saw for the team that we're going to encounter right now.

"The biggest attribute they bring is they've been here. They know what to expect. They're comfortable in these situations and this is not new to them. It's a quality club."

It's a quality club that is closing in on dynasty status. In this era, a championship every other year, more than qualifies in that category.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Lincecum more than ready if needed in Fall Classic

Right-hander again on playoff roster, but hasn't pitched since Sept. 28

Lincecum more than ready if needed in Fall Classic

KANSAS CITY -- Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum has gone from the sublime to the anonymous in his baseball career. Thus far, Lincecum has not pitched during the 2014 playoffs, but he insists he is not obsessing about pitching in the World Series against the Royals. If Lincecum's not used, he figures he'll deal with all that when the postseason is over.

"I think there will be a time when I think about it and what it means to me," Lincecum said on Monday at Kaufman Stadium. "Right now, I'm really locked into the idea of being a good teammate and just being ready for the opportunity."

More

For the Giants, the World Series begins against the Royals on Tuesday with Game 1 (4:30 p.m. PT on FOX and the first pitch at 5:07 p.m. PT).

Lincecum has not pitched since Sept. 28, when he notched two scoreless innings of relief at home against the Padres on the final day of the regular season.

This is a guy who has won two National League Cy Young Awards and pitched two no-hitters. He's a guy who is 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 12 postseason appearances -- six starts -- since the Giants began going to the playoffs in 2010, winning the World Series that year and again in '12. They are on a roll of winning eight postseason series in a row, plus this year's NL Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Lincecum won 12 games this year, one of them a no-hitter, and earned $17 million. The Giants are on the hook for $18 million more in 2015. They have no intention of casting him aside.

"We'll get through this," general manager Brian Sabean said. "Then we'll figure it out."

They also had no intention of giving Lincecum the Barry Zito treatment of 2010: leaving him off the roster for the World Series. Zito was grounded for all three rounds that year.

"There was never any thought of not having him on this roster," manager Bruce Bochy said on Monday. "Not just having him on the roster, but the fact that he could help us at some point."

The real question is where? The World Series rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong is set. Lincecum hasn't made a start since Aug. 23. When Bochy has needed a starter to pitch long relief during the postseason, he has turned to Yusmeiro Petit, who responded with nine innings of scoreless, two-hit relief in two lights-out appearances -- one each against Washington and St. Louis.

Lincecum has weathered it all, although he seemed forlorn standing with his girlfriend outside the on-field celebration on Thursday night at AT&T Park after Travis Ishikawa hit the three-run, walk-off homer that eliminated the Cardinals and won the third NL pennant for the Giants in the past five years.

Lincecum's teammates have noticed and tried to act as a support system.

"Yeah, everybody on this team honestly is like family," said Bumgarner, Tuesday night's Game 1 starter for the Giants against Kansas City's James Shields. "Anytime anybody needs anything, everybody's there for them. He's one of the best teammates I've ever had and it's a pleasure to play with him every day. He's been a huge part of our success. He's in a tough spot having not pitched in so long, but I know when the time comes he'll be ready. So I'm not worried about it."

To that end, Lincecum has tried to stay ready. He threw a bullpen session on Sunday during a Giants evening workout session at Kauffman Stadium and felt good about it afterwards.

"It's always nice to get back out there on that mound when I haven't been out there too much," Lincecum said. "You just try to keep the tools tuned, and that's what I'm trying to do out there. It's easy for me to stay focused because of the moment. Because of where we are right now, there are so much heightened expectations. You just never want to be the guy who's not prepared when you're called on. That's just my perspective on it."

Certainly, there's no guarantee Lincecum will pitch anytime in the best-of-seven series. Prior to both the NL Division Series and the NL Championship Series, Bochy said he'd try to use Lincecum if the situation arose. It didn't.

On Monday, Bochy lamented that reality.

"I feel bad for him, the fact that he didn't get to pitch against Washington or St. Louis, because I think a lot of Timmy," said Bochy, who has been managing the Giants since 2007 after 12 years doing the same for the Padres. "He's been with me since I've been here."

The Giants believe there are so many moving parts to Lincecum's motion that if he's not completely in sync, he has no feel for the strike zone. Couple that with his diminished velocity. When hitters sit on Lincecum's fastball up in the zone, it's a recipe for failure. One veteran batting coach said he simply tells his hitters to "wait him out." But when he's right, there's no pitcher who's better.

So what's a manager to do?

"As far as Timmy, he took a good bullpen [session] yesterday, so I don't know," Bochy responded. "I can't answer that, but we need to have him ready, because you don't know what's going to happen in this game. We played 18 innings in Washington, and he was getting ready to come into the game. He's ready to go, and he's healthy. So it's an old adage with all these guys -- it's all hands on deck, and he's one of them."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

First four World Series games dedicated to important causes

First four World Series games dedicated to important causes

KANSAS CITY -- Five years ago, Major League Baseball introduced a significant addition to the World Series that would involve everyone in some way, even the players and umpires. Because only the first four games were a sure thing, each of those was dedicated with a theme of community service, serving as a high-impact backdrop for what happened on the field.

It all began in New York, with Game 1 dedicated to military veterans and their families. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, joined Commissioner Bud Selig at a nearby Veterans Administration hospital, spending an hour with veterans and then participating in pregame ceremonies before the Phillies played the Yankees.

More

Today, the annual World Series Community Initiative program is an established tradition that gives two clubs and their fan bases even greater rewards for reaching the ultimate stage of international attention. The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants will each have two dedicated game themes -- starting almost exactly the way it did in 2009 -- to raise awareness for important causes associated with charitable initiatives and MLB partners.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Dedications at the 110th Fall Classic will include Veterans & Military Families for Game 1, Education & ALS Awareness for Game 2, Advancing the Fight Against Cancer for Game 3, and Youth Outreach for Game 4. MLB announced the themes and the event details at Workout Day on Monday.

"Major League Baseball is proud to utilize the global platform of the World Series to highlight causes that are important to so many of our fans and our culture as a whole," Selig said. "Baseball is a social institution with significant social responsibilities, and it is a privilege to draw attention to organizations that work tirelessly to address these challenges."

Here is a closer look at the plans revolving around each of the four games:

Game 1: Veterans & Military Families. As it did last year for the opener in Boston, this dedication will highlight support of the Welcome Back Veterans initiative. Selig will be joined on Tuesday afternoon by Royals chairman David Glass and president Dan Glass; Royals Hall of Famer John Mayberry; U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald; and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld in a visit with veterans at the Kansas City VA Medical Center Honor Annex. Then there will be a special on-field pregame ceremony and other activities will take place at the ballpark.

Since 2008, MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation have committed more than $30 million to Welcome Back Veterans (WelcomeBackVeterans.org). To date, a total of approximately $17 million in grants has been awarded to nonprofit agencies and hospitals supporting returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families' greatest needs, focusing on treatment and research of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Game 2: Education & ALS Awareness. So many were involved in the phenomenon of this summer's Ice Bucket Challenge, which was inspired by Pete Frates and Pat Quinn and has raised more than $100 million for research of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Now the momentum continues. MLB, which held a league-wide recognition of the 75th anniversary of Gehrig's iconic "Luckiest Man" speech on July 4, 1939, will theme a significant portion of the pregame ceremony around ALS awareness and the fight to find a cure.

MLB also will celebrate its commitment to education and the legacy of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson through the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life program, which is an MLB educational program inspired by Robinson. That day, Sharon Robinson (Jackie's daughter, MLB educational programming consultant and author) will visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with children from Faxon Elementary School to discuss the Breaking Barriers program with the students, and one of the 2014 Breaking Barriers essay contest grand-prize winners will be honored at the ballpark.

Game 3: Advancing the Fight Against Cancer. For the sixth year in a row during the Fall Classic (now also an All-Star Game tradition), there will be a special in-game moment, in conjunction with Stand Up To Cancer. Fans and uniformed personnel in the dugouts, as well as the umpires, will hold up placards with the names of loved ones affected by the disease. If you have ever experienced one of these moments in the ballpark, then you know what a moving and shared experience it is. MLB and its 30 clubs are the founding partners of SU2C and a lead donor since 2008, committing more than $40 million.

Earlier in the day, representatives from MLB, the Giants and SU2C will visit a local pediatric hospital. Gaylord Perry and Will Clark have participated in these World Series community events for the Giants in the past, and you can expect to see more of the franchise's legends involved this time.

Game 4: Youth Outreach. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure the passing of this sport onto the youngest generation, including those in underserved communities. This game will celebrate various initiatives that include Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Little League -- two organizations that receive significant support from MLB -- and MLB-affiliated programs Baseball Tomorrow Fund, MLB Urban Youth Academies and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI). There will be a special pregame ceremony, and earlier in the day, MLB will host a clinic for young RBI and BGCA participants (ages 8 to 13). Additionally, MLB will hold a showcase for older RBI participants (ages 14 to 18) with collegiate and professional scouts.

Additional community initiatives

In Kansas City and San Francisco, MLB will visit a children's hospital to donate a new Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit containing the latest gaming system that rolls bedside in hospitals to provide distractive entertainment and therapeutic play for pediatric patients. MLB also will host two young fans from the Make-A-Wish Foundation whose wishes were to attend the World Series.

MLB, Anheuser-Busch and TEAM Coalition supported the designated driver programs at MLB ballparks during the regular season with a special incentive: Fans who registered to be a designated driver were entered into a drawing to be the club's official "Designated Driver." The "Designated Drivers" from the Royals and Giants will each receive two tickets and will be honored during Games 1 and 3, respectively.

MLB and the Natural Resources Defense Council will incorporate a variety of environmentally preferable efforts that include the "World Series Green Team" initiative during all World Series games, featuring volunteers collecting refuse for recycling and supplementing existing recycling programs; raising public awareness to educate fans about how to become more environmentally aware via online materials and PSAs; prioritizing recycled content materials at events throughout the Fall Classic; and addressing energy usage through efficiency measures and by investing in renewable energy offsets.

Visit MLBCommunity.org for more information on each of these programs and all of MLB's community initiatives.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Seeking another title, Giants open Fall Classic in KC

Seeking another title, Giants open Fall Classic in KC

KANSAS CITY -- Kansas City, with its couple hundred fountains and seemingly equal number of BBQ joints, is about to take its place as the epicenter of the baseball world on Tuesday when -- after a wait of 28 years, 11 months and 25 days -- the World Series returns to Kauffman Stadium.

Six days after celebrating an American League pennant in front of their own fans by dispatching the Orioles, the Royals will host the Giants in the first World Series matchup between the clubs. First pitch in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET. Pregame coverage on FOX begins at 7:30 p.m.

More

It is a Fall Classic matchup bubbling with intrigue, one that will feature newbies to this postseason stage against the every-other-year World Series regulars of late. The Giants, who defeated the Cardinals in a five-game National League Championship Series, returned to Missouri having won each of their last eight postseason series. In between, they've raised two World Series banners (2010, '12).

The Royals are riding their own streak, undefeated in their first eight postseason games, something never before accomplished. Their 11-game postseason winning streak (dating back to 1985) ranks as the second longest in Major League history.

"I think this city has been waiting for this for a long time, and the fact that we're doing it in the fashion that we are is tremendous," said James Shields, Kansas City's Game 1 starter. "This is our goal in Spring Training, and we had one mindset, and that was to go to the World Series and win it. And to be able to be here on this big stage is exactly what we've been working really hard for all season long."

Defying the assertion that the Wild Card Game, added in 2012, would prove to be an unclearable hurdle for a Wild Card team to advance to the World Series, both the Giants and Royals emerged from the winner-take-all Wild Card Games and then twice overcame the home-field advantage of their opponents. This World Series gets it start in Kansas City thanks to the AL's victory in the All-Star Game.

Since MLB started using the All-Star Game outcome to determine home-field advantage, the team that has held it has been crowned World Series champions eight times out of 11. That included the Giants in both 2010 and '12. With a series win over the Royals, the Giants would join the Yankees as the only clubs over the last 40 years to boast three championships during a five-year span.

"I was amazed at the Yankees on what they accomplished. It's not that easy," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will send Madison Bumgarner to the mound in Game 1. "I mean, first of all, you've got to get there. Then the road to get there now is a lot more difficult than it used to be. It used to be two pennant winners going at it, and now you have to go through some playoffs, and this year we had the extra one with the [Wild Card] playoff game."

While the two clubs have no October history, they aren't entirely unfamiliar with one another. In August, Interleague Play sent the Giants to Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals completed a sweep during a stretch in which they won 14 of 16 games. San Francisco was outscored, 16-6, with Bumgarner taking one of those losses in a complete-game effort.

Now, the Giants are back, with the lights brighter, the stakes higher and just the second World Series Wild Card matchup on tap. The first all-Wild Card World Series also involved the Giants, who lost a thrilling seven-game series to the Angels in 2002. An unexpected October clash, for sure. But one certain to add to the drama of a postseason in which there have already been 14 games determined by one run.

"This is final, you know?" Royals manager Ned Yost said. "This is the last big series, and there are two teams left standing, which is special. I think it's a great matchup between both clubs. I think that both teams are ready for this."

Giants: Morse set as designated hitter
Content to leave Travis Ishikawa in left field, Bochy intends to make room for Michael Morse in his Game 1 lineup by using him as the Giants' designated hitter. Morse came off the bench to hit a game-tying home run off Pat Neshek in the eighth inning to set up the Giants' walk-off win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS. That was just the sixth at-bat Morse had taken since the end of August, as he spent six weeks recovering from a strained oblique muscle before being added to the NLCS roster.

Morse went 2-for-4 pinch-hitting against the Cardinals and has 33 career starts as a DH, including four earlier this season. This will be his first time filling the spot in the postseason.

Royals: A layoff letdown?
Kansas City knocked Baltimore out of the postseason last Wednesday, leaving the Royals with a five-day layoff before they pick up World Series play against the Giants. So will that downtime hurt? History suggests probably not.

Of the 13 teams with five or more days off between the LCS and World Series, seven have gone on to win a championship. Those clubs went 6-7 in Game 1. Short-sightedness may be contributing to the assumption that the Royals will be affected by the layoff, as only one of five teams since 2006 with at five or more days off between the two rounds has gone on to win it all.

Worth noting
• MLB announced that it will dedicate Game 1 to honoring veterans and military families as part of its Welcome Back Veterans program. There will be an on-field, pregame ceremony to highlight this initiative.

• With a Game 1 win, the Royals would tie the Yankees (1927-32, 1998-99) for the most consecutive postseason victories with 12.

• In winning 15 of their last 17 postseason games, the Giants have outscored their opponents, 77-32, while posting a staff ERA of 1.71.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

At top of the order, Blanco realizes World Series dream

At top of the order, Blanco realizes World Series dream

KANSAS CITY -- Barring unforeseen circumstances, Gregor Blanco of the Giants will realize his fondest baseball dream Tuesday night: Leading off and playing center field in the World Series.

"That always has been the picture in my mind since I was a little kid," Blanco said Monday. Hours from seeing his wish come true, the Venezuelan called his luck "amazing. I'm so thankful and grateful. I appreciate every moment."

More

Through most of this postseason, however, Blanco's dream appeared in danger of unraveling. Through San Francisco's first eight games this postseason, he hit .111 (4-for-36) and scored just once. Giants manager Bruce Bochy stuck with Blanco in the leadoff spot, though some fans howled for an alternative, such as right fielder Hunter Pence.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Fortunately for the Giants, Blanco appears to be on the upswing approaching the World Series opener against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. PT airtime/5:07 PT first pitch, FOX). The left-handed hitter went 3-for-8 in the final two games of the National League Championship Series against St. Louis. He scored twice and drove in a run in Game 4 before rapping a pair of singles and scoring the Giants' first run in Game 5 against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

"I put pressure on myself," said Blanco, 30. "I tried to get on base six times out of five. I sat myself down and said, 'You've got to relax.' ... After that, I was more patient and calm and didn't try to do too much."

Blanco intends to maintain that attitude as the Giants launch their quest to win their third World Series in five years. He knows that his productivity at the top of the order would jump-start the Giants' offense.

"We're going to keep trying to play our game," said Blanco, who hit .260 with five homers, 38 RBIs, 16 steals in 21 attempts and a .333 on-base percentage in 146 games this year. "We should not worry about what [the Royals] are doing. We just have to worry about what we're capable of."

Blanco sensed that the Royals might be capable of greatness after he joined them from Atlanta in a five-player deal at the 2010 Trade Deadline.

"I remember they kept talking about 'One day we'll be in the World Series if we just keep believing in each other," said Blanco, whose Kansas City teammates included current mainstays Billy Butler, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon and Greg Holland. "I know how hard they worked to be in the spot they're in right now."

Blanco's reflections on his Royals tenure were positive. "They taught me how to take care of my body," he said. "At that particular time I felt like I was overweight. When I got here, I needed to prove to myself that I could be the player I wanted to become and they helped me do it."

Blanco spent 2011 in Triple-A, dividing the season between the Kansas City and Washington organizations due to another trade. Three teams expressed interest when he became a free agent the following offseason: the Reds, Marlins and Giants. A friend advised Blanco to select the team that had the best chance to win big. Blanco signed with the Giants and earned a World Series ring with them in 2012.

Said Blanco, "I appreciate what the Giants have done for me -- the opportunity to make me welcome in their family, so to speak."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Crucial Giants-Royals World Series matchups

Crucial Giants-Royals World Series matchups

KANSAS CITY -- The fruitlessness of speculation at this stage is well-established by these Royals and Giants. Not only have they beaten the odds by becoming the first two Wild Card teams of the Wild Card Game era to advance to the World Series, but they've done it in dominant fashion, with a combined postseason record of 16-2, the best ever for two World Series participants.

It's doubtful any written word can properly prepare us for what's ahead in this World Series, but as these two Wild Card clubs begin battle at 8:07 p.m. ET (air time is at 7:30 p.m.) Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium and on FOX, some of us can't help ourselves. Here's an attempt (likely in vain) to pinpoint 10 matchups that could decide this Series.

More

1. The Royals' bullish bullpen vs. the Giants' bats.

There is no single separator in this or any postseason series to date than that back end of the Royals' bullpen. We really haven't seen anything like it on this stage in a generation (the 1990 Reds "Nasty Boys" are a popular comparison). And considering that starters not named Madison Bumgarner haven't exactly gone deep into games with great frequency this postseason, the Royals' bullpen strength should continue to be a key factor going forward.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

In the ALCS round, Royals right-handers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland retired 44 of 54 batters, striking out 15 and posting a 0.61 ERA. That's as dominant as you can get at this stage of the game. And the presence of lefty Brandon Finnegan -- the first player ever to participate in the College World Series and the real World Series in the same year -- has only added depth and matchup possibilities for manager Ned Yost, who has called upon his 'pen for 32 percent of the Royals' postseason innings pitched so far.

The Giants have to pounce on these guys in fastball counts. Or else just root for mistakes that, to date, have been few and far between.

2. The Giants' underrated relief corps vs. the Royals' bats.

Hey, let's not focus completely on the Royals relievers and sell that San Francisco bullpen short. It does have a 1.83 ERA this postseason, after all.

In such a volatile area in a volatile game, it's amazing that Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez remain the bullpen linchpins they were for the Giants in the 2010 and 2012 postseason. This 2014 club is probably even more reliant on the 'pen than those previous two NL championship squads were, and that's why the late-inning matchups are so essential.

Here's where it gets really interesting: Affeldt is currently in the midst of 18 straight postseason appearances without a run allowed. That dates all the way back to '10. Lopez, meanwhile, has allowed just three hits and one run in 10 1/3 innings of postseason play with the Giants.

These are important points for the simple reason that three of the prime pieces in the Royals' lineup -- Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon -- are left-handed. The Giants have the tools to suppress those guys late in games.

3. Billy Butler vs. Bumgarner.

As mentioned, Bumgarner, the NLCS MVP, is the only starter from either of these two teams whose postseason performance, in terms of dominating deep into games (he's gone at least seven innings in all four starts, and he has a 1.42 ERA and .170 average against), has truly stood out. It is imperative that the Royals get to him in Game 1, and doing so will be difficult given the aforementioned reliance on lefties and the fact that Bumgarner held lefties to just a .539 OPS (and one homer) this season.

So the time has definitely come for Butler to step up on the postseason stage. He was vital to this lineup when the Royals got hot in August and that might have to be the case again in Game 1.

This postseason, Butler is just 6-for-27 (.222), but he hit .321 against lefties during the regular season, and he's 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs against Bumgarner. Also of note, Butler is 14-for-33 with three homers, three walks and eight RBIs off Game 2 starter Jake Peavy. Perhaps Butler can rediscover those successes and ignite the Royals offense at home, before he is relegated to pinch-hitting duties in San Francisco.

4. James Shields vs. his nickname.

Not to totally harp on Game 1, but, seriously, Game 1 is huge. In the last 25 World Series, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to claim the crown 21 times. So this would be an awfully good time for "Big Game" James to prove his nickname is as much reason as rhyme.

That hasn't happened this postseason. Shields has allowed 10 runs in 16 innings, with three homers and five walks. Maybe he's gassed (he's thrown 3,915 pitches this calendar year, by far the most in the Majors), or maybe this stage doesn't suit him. Whatever the case, Shields needs to shake off recent history and be the tone-setter he's been for this rotation the last two years.

"I'm a big believer in amnesia," he said.

Yes, the Royals have a deep and devastating bullpen. But that bullpen has the potential to be over-exerted going forward, as Yordano Ventura showed diminished velocity and battled shoulder tightness in his last start and Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie were both basically five-and-fly guys in the ALCS round. So it would sure help the Royals to get some length out of their ace in a pivotal Game 1.

5. The Giants' arms and positioning vs. the Royals' speed.

For all the attention the Royals' fleet feet deservedly received in advance of the ALCS, they managed just one steal in three attempts against the Orioles.

It wasn't just the O's pitchers living up to their reputation of being quick to the plate or Caleb Joseph's accurate arm behind the plate. It was also the unique positioning of first baseman Steve Pearce, who would set up some five feet from the bag while "holding" the runner, then scamper back to the bag for either a pickoff attempt or a basic deke job. It was weird, but it worked.

As one scout on hand said, "If I had to tell the Giants one thing about the running game, it's to go through the games and watch what Steve Pearce did."

So Brandon Belt could have as much of an impact here as Buster Posey. But for the record, Posey threw out 29.8 percent of opposing baserunners this season, which was not an elite percentage. And in this postseason, runners have successfully stolen on Posey three times in four attempts.

The onus is also on the Giants' pitchers to be quick to the plate. In the regular season, Peavy (one steal in four attempts while with San Francisco) and Bumgarner (seven steals in 17 attempts) were effective at guarding against the run, while runners were much more effective against Ryan Vogelsong (12 in 18 attempts), Tim Lincecum (22 in 28), Yusmeiro Petit (15 in 19) and Tim Hudson (15 in 18).

6. Giants pitchers vs. the "pound the strike zone" mindset.

Per FanGraphs.com, only the Nationals (63.3) had a higher first-pitch strike percentage than the Giants (62.8) this season. Ordinarily, that ability to pound the zone and establish yourself early in the count is considered a good thing. But against a team like the Royals, who finished second in the Majors in contact percentage, the Giants might have to rethink this strategy. The Royals are not a team prone to swinging and missing in the zone.

Actually, both of these clubs have done an excellent job of avoiding strike three this postseason. The Giants are averaging 7.05 plate appearances between strikeouts, while the Royals are averaging 5.44. Both marks are above the league average from the regular season. But for the Royals, especially, the put-it-in-play perspective is not a new one, and the Giants would be wise to try to use that against them.

7. The outfielders vs. the dimensions.

Travis Ishikawa's bat propelled the Giants into this World Series in the most dramatic way imaginable. But in Games 1 and 2 at Kauffman Stadium, the converted first baseman's glove could be a focal point.

Kauffman has the largest square footage of any outfield in baseball, and the home club's tendency to put the ball in play will test all of San Francisco's defenders, most notably Ishikawa in left and Hunter Pence in right (Gregor Blanco has filled in admirably for the injured Angel Pagan in center). Bruce Bochy will also have the option of playing Juan Perez in left.

"I don't see any changes right now with how we're going to start the game, and that's Ishi in left field," Bochy said. "But we know we have that option of a guy that's probably a little faster."

And when the Series shifts to San Francisco, Royals outfielders will also be challenged. They can clearly cover a lot of ground (there are times when it seems Lorenzo Cain is capable of simultaneously manning all three spots), but the quirky layout of the outfield wall at AT&T Park will definitely take some getting used to.

8. Royals pitchers vs. the Panda.

Pablo Sandoval is a .325 (41-for-126) career hitter in the postseason, and he's reached base in 23 straight postseason games. Vargas (3-for-9, one walk) and Guthrie (3-for-6, two doubles) are the only two Kansas City pitchers who have faced the Panda more than a few times, and they've both struggled to get him out.

In general, though, the lefties on the Royals -- Vargas, Finnegan, Danny Duffy and Tim Collins -- could all be important weapons in neutralizing the switch-hitting Sandoval. He was 0-for-3 in his only at-bats as a right-handed hitter thus far this postseason, and he hit just .199 from the right-hand side this season.

9. Bochy vs. Yost.

Well, here we go again. Yost -- arguably the most criticized strategist in the game -- matching wits against a skipper with growing Cooperstown credentials. Last round, it was billed as Yost vs. Showalter. How'd that turn out?

Yost simply had the magic touch in the LCS. For instance, in Game 2, when he had Moustakas, his biggest power threat, lay down a sacrifice bunt in a lefty-on-lefty matchup that didn't favor the slugger, that tactic worked out wonderfully, with Moustakas advancing what turned out to be the winning run. And the Royals' bullpen has been so good that Yost has been able to put it on cruise control. Whether it's bunting or sacrificing their bodies to snag an out, the Royals have shown a real unselfishness on this stage that's worked wonders for them, and, anecdotally, Yost has helped instill that in them. So give him a little credit, eh?

That said, Bochy is the one who has been there, done that, entering his fourth World Series and gunning for his third win. The aforementioned success and stability of the bullpen is ultimately a credit to him putting the right guys in the right spots without overworking anybody. And the "cockroach" mentality this club has taken on is also a credit to its cunning leader.

So we'll see if either skipper pushes the wrong button at the wrong time. But going in, both of these guys are on a managerial "hot streak," so to speak.

10. Both clubs vs. the "10th man" element.

The pent-up frustration of a 29-year playoff drought has come roaring out of the mouths of Royals fans this October. They have created one of the loudest home environments in baseball during this postseason run. AT&T Park, meanwhile, has long been able to boast that trait.

So it will be interesting to see if either club gets rattled on the road. One would think this might be the one area in which the Royals' relative inexperience compared to the Giants might come into play. But they sure didn't look rattled in Angel Stadium or Camden Yards, did they?

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Morse to serve as Giants' DH in Kansas City

Morse to serve as Giants' DH in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY -- After playing a critical role as a pinch-hitter in the National League Championship Series, Michael Morse's job description is about to expand.

Morse will serve as the Giants' designated hitter in World Series Games 1 and 2, giving manager Bruce Bochy's club some extra thump that it did not have in previous rounds. Because of a strained left oblique muscle, Morse has just six plate appearances since the start of September. But he did come off the bench to hit an eighth-inning, pinch-hit, game-tying homer in NLCS Game 5.

More

When the Giants return to San Francisco, Morse should return to bench duty, though he could draw his first outfield assignment of the postseason when left-hander Jason Vargas starts for the Royals in Game 3 or 4.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"Right now, Morse is DHing," Bochy said. "He's done a pretty good job out there. He's done a really good job. So I don't see any changes right now with how we're going to start the game."

That means using Travis Ishikawa, whose walk-off homer in Game 5 highlighted a strong NLCS, as a starter in left field. Throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs, Bochy regularly subbed Juan Perez into left late in games, and indicated that he will continue to employ that strategy this week. But the Giants want to continue riding the hot bat of Ishikawa, who hit .385 with seven RBIs in five NLCS games.

"We know we have that option of a guy that's probably a little faster," Bochy said of Perez, "but still we like the job that [Ishikawa] has been doing out there defensively, and the bat in the lineup."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Coaching continuity a source of Giant strength

Coaching continuity a source of Giant strength

KANSAS CITY -- During his 11 years as a pitcher for the Yankees, Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti saw plenty of men who held his current title come and go.

"I think I had 12 managers and even more pitching coaches in my time in New York," Righetti said. "I think that definitely hurt us over time, because I think after a while the players start to think, 'This poor guy, he's going to be gone next week, how much am I going to listen to him?' That's a tough thing to say, but it's true. When you're talking to a coach and you know he's got some say, some pull, a player might listen a little longer, and I think they do."

More

When a Giants coach speaks, players listen, because those coaches have pull with manager Bruce Bochy, and chances are they will be around for many years.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

The stability of the Giants' coaching staff is truly remarkable, especially when you see other teams cycling through coaches at a sometimes dizzying rate -- including the Royals, who have had six hitting coaches over the last two years.

By contrast, being a Giants coach is a lot like being appointed a U.S. Supreme Court Justice -- you're going to be around for a while.

Bench coach Ron Wotus is the longest-tenured San Francisco coach, having joined the staff in 1998. That followed a managing stint in the team's farm system and a playing career with the organization. In all, Wotus has been a part of things for 26 seasons.

Righetti just finished his 15th season as the team's pitching coach, while bullpen coach Mark Gardner wrapped up his 12th.

Hitting coach Joe Lefebvre is a relative newcomer, having joined the staff in 2012, except he also had a stint with the Giants from 2002-07. So he, too, has logged plenty of years. Bullpen catcher Bill Hayes has been in his current role for 12 years.

"It's great to have that continuity," Bochy said. "They work hard, they work constantly to draw out the best in these players. They're relentless with their work. It's a big reason why we've had this success that we've had, because of how good they are and the continuity that we've had here."

It's hard to argue with the Giants' success, as they open their third World Series in five seasons on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. PT on FOX; 5:07 first pitch).

Young players like second baseman Joe Panik, who has been a key contributor to the team's success, are comfortable with the coaches when they reach the big league level because they've interacted with them during Spring Training.

"You build a relationship with them," Panik said. "They understand you and what you do best and what makes you tick."

That continuity can also allow a coach to follow a player throughout his career and more easily spot mechanical changes or changes in demeanor.

"It helps a lot because they saw me when I first signed and then they've seen me for 12 or 13 years and seen the growth and seen the downs, so they've seen it all," said veteran right-hander Matt Cain, who is out of action following elbow surgery after playing big roles on the 2010 and '12 championship teams.

Giants catcher Buster Posey has developed a symbiotic relationship with Righetti, with each knowing exactly what the other is looking for when it comes to scouting reports.

"I think that's why our relationship has worked well, too, because he's never been one that's just pounded information," Posey said. "He's always kind of said, 'This is what I'm thinking this guy's strengths or weaknesses are' -- whether it's the pitcher or a hitter -- and I feel like I've been able to communicate with him well and understand where he's coming from pretty quickly."

With members of the staff having been together so long, they can read each other's moods easily and know what to expect from each other.

"Obviously, as a group we've been doing something right, because we've had some success," Wotus said.

Given all the winning, it is somewhat surprising that the staff is still together. Righetti said he figured Wotus would have been offered a managerial job somewhere by now. But despite being the right-hand man of Bochy -- regarded by many as the finest manager in the game -- Wotus has come up empty after being interviewed five different times.

"You talk about the undervalued free agent, but he may be the undervalued coach," assistant general manager Bobby Evans said of Wotus. "With all the clubs looking at managerial candidates, I don't know who has a better resume. Without having had Major League managing experience, he's probably got one of the best resumes out there."

Righetti said at one point he harbored a desire to manage, but not as much these days. However, he said he could always change his mind about that.

"If you're doing something and you've got a good core going, to me, you don't mess it up too much unless you have to," Righetti said. "I'm just kind one of those guys, I've always liked being part of a team, and a coaching team also."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Giants players reveal their favorite Pence signs

|
Giants players reveal their favorite Pence signs

Like the Borg or calling people "Basic," Hunter Pence signs have taken over the Majors this year. Wherever the Giants traveled, a Hunter Pence sign couldn't be far away. 

And whether they're making fun of the outfielder

Continue Reading on Cut4

MLB.com Columnist

Hal Bodley

Giants can punch Bochy's Hall of Fame ticket

Giants can punch Bochy's Hall of Fame ticket

KANSAS CITY -- The Giants are poised to win their third World Series in five years, and if successful, they'll punch Bruce Bochy's ticket to Cooperstown.

Nine managers have won at least three World Series championships, and all of them are in the Hall of Fame.

More

So if the Giants can get past these Cinderellas wearing Kansas City Royals baseball suits, their beloved skipper can count on baseball's highest honor.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

When Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa were elected last December, I predicted that Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella would top the next managers' ballot in 2017.

I still believe that. Even though Bochy is years from retirement and consideration for the Hall of Fame, he'll be No. 3 on my list if he gets his third ring.

As Bochy said on Monday afternoon, this World Series should be all about the players, but adding another chapter to his impressive resume is a dandy subplot.

Bochy, who has 1,618 wins, was managing the Padres in 1998 when they made it to the World Series and were swept by Torre's Yankees. That was the second World Series win for Torre, who produced four championships in five years.

On the eve of this year's Game 1, I asked Bochy what it was like as a manager to watch Torre's teams win so often.

"You understand how difficult this is," he said. "I was amazed at the Yankees on what they accomplished. It's not that easy. I mean, first of all, you've got to get there. Then the road to get there now is a lot more difficult than it used to be. It used to be two pennant winners going at it, and now you have to go through some playoffs, and this year we had the extra one with the [Wild Card Game]."

I suggested there are times when you have to pinch yourself. Bochy's teams have won eight consecutive postseason series, plus a Wild Card Game.

"Yes, it's very satisfying when you get in a situation where you have a chance," he said. "That's all we wanted at each stage, is just a chance to get to this stage. "

But like a proud papa, Bochy came back to his players.

"I'm amazed at these guys," he said. "I've told them that, at how hard they fought to get here. Again, it's a tough road when you have to go through some really good clubs. I mean, we had to go through Washington. We had to go through St. Louis. They've amazed me. You do sometimes look and go, 'Hey, we're pretty blessed to have a group of guys that just seemed determined to get here.'"

Brian Sabean keeps a low profile by choice, and because of that, he might be the most underrated general manager in Major League Baseball.

Sabean is the architect of these Giants teams. He has an uncanny knack at tweaking the roster just enough to greatly improve his teams. But no move he has made since becoming GM in late 1996 has been more important than bringing Bochy aboard.

Bochy had a year remaining on his contract in San Diego when Sabean was granted permission by the Padres to speak with him. He was hired on Oct. 27, 2006.

When you sit down with the 59-year-old Bochy, it's like spending time with a favorite uncle. With his gravelly voice and homespun approach, "Boch," as he's called, gets and keeps your attention. And the thing is, he doesn't demand it. It just comes naturally. He looks you straight in the eyes and the first thing you see is excitement, quickly followed by sincerity.

His players believe in him, and for any manager this has to be his most important trait.

Madison Bumgarner, who will start for the Giants in Game 1 on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. PT on FOX; 5:07 first pitch) against the Royals' James Shields, said pitching for Bochy has been "a lot of fun."

Bumgarner added: "Obviously, he's the only manager I've played for, so it's tough to compare him to someone. But it would be hard to imagine playing for a better manager. … He's got as good a feel for the game as anybody, and that makes for some fun games."

When the Giants ousted the Cardinals to win the National League pennant, veteran pitcher Jake Peavy told MLB.com's Barry Bloom, "I know it sounds like a broken record, but the man's special. I said it in the middle of the season: You can write up his Hall of Fame plaque right now, believe me. This man is such a great leader. It spills over to everyone. His coaching staff is unbelievable. Their belief system, it spills over into here."

Outfielder Hunter Pence says Bochy is enormously invested in the players.

"We know that and have a tremendous amount of confidence in him," Pence said. "It takes a lot of courage to make a lot of the decisions because you're going to answer to everything you do through hindsight, which isn't always necessarily fair. As a team, playing behind him, his guts and his heart and his determination leaks into us."

When you try to compliment Bochy, it's as if he says, "Aw, shucks. It's not me." But on the record, keeps trying to play down his role.

"I'm not just trying to be a humble guy," he said, almost embarrassed. "I'm fortunate that I have a great ballclub, a gritty ballclub with a lot of character that plays to win. They seem to thrive on important games. … Ownership has given me the tools, and that's how it works. It's all about the players and how they perform."

Obviously, the challenges of managing in the World Series with so much at stake are different.

Bochy agrees, yes, it's different: "You have a team that really fought so hard to get here, you really don't want to do anything too much different. Sure, you might manage a little different because of the sense of urgency."

What Bochy is trying to say is, it's all about the players, not the manager -- and don't mess it up. Yet if the Giants win this World Series, they'll repay Bruce Bochy with what should be the most important honor of his career.

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Giants' pinch-hitting options limited in Kansas City

Giants' pinch-hitting options limited in Kansas City

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the use of the designated hitter in the American League city, the Giants are going to have a shortened bench for Games 1 and 2 of the World Series on Tuesday and Wednesday in Kansas City.

Manager Bruce Bochy's five substitute position players are right-handed anyway, which puts the Giants at a distinct disadvantage against the all-righty Royals relief trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland late in games.

More

Bochy won't have the luxury of mixing and matching pinch-hitters in the latter innings. Then again, that might not be an issue at Kauffman Stadium, with San Francisco's bevy of left-handed hitters in the starting lineup: Gregor Blanco, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, Travis Ishikawa, Brandon Crawford and the switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"We'll see how the games go," Bochy said. "It always dictates how you use guys. I mean, with the DH, you're probably not going to use a pinch-hitter like you normally would. Now, we could use some guys to pinch-run, maybe go in for defense. But I don't see as many moves being made with the DH as you would in the National League with those rules."

Here's how Bochy could utilize his bench players during the World Series:

Michael Morse: Morse will be the DH during the first two games, which takes away Bochy's best pinch-hitter in Kansas City. Morse was activated in time for the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals after missing most of September, the NL Wild Card Game and the NL Division Series because of a strained left oblique. He came back with a single in Game 2 and a big homer during the eighth inning of Game 5 that tied the score.

Juan Perez: Bochy had been using Perez as a late-inning defensive replacement for Ishikawa, subbing him in left field no later than the seventh inning in the first four games of the NLCS. But Bochy went against that grain in Game 5, leaving Ishikawa in to hit in the bottom of the ninth, and we know how that worked: Walk-off, pennant-winning, three-run homer. Perez has played in 13 postseason games, but has only two hits in 13 at-bats.

Joaquin Arias: Usually the pinch-runner du jour, Arias ran for Sandoval after the third baseman singled to open the ninth in Game 5 of the NLCS and was poised at second to score the winning run when Ishikawa hit his big homer. Arias has only two at-bats in the postseason, posting a hit, an RBI and scoring two big runs.

Video: Must C: Morse's clutch home run

Matt Duffy: He hasn't played much in the postseason, getting only four at-bats without a hit. Duffy was one of Bochy's remaining pinch-hitting options at the end of Game 5 if Cards manager Mike Matheny had opted to take out right-hander Michael Wacha for one of his left-handed relief specialists. That, of course, didn't happen. Duffy never batted in the NLCS, but he said he's prepared mentally to take a crack at it if his name is called during the World Series. Considering Bochy's options, it probably will be more of the same.

Andrew Susac: The backup catcher to Buster Posey, Susac must be saved by Bochy in the event that his starting backstop gets hurt. To that end, Susac has been riding the pine for nearly the entire postseason. He has a single in two at-bats -- as a pinch-hitter during the ninth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS to tie the Cards at that point. Duffy pinch-ran and scored the tying run. The Giants lost in the bottom of the inning.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

SF radio stations ban Lorde's 'Royals'

|
SF radio stations ban Lorde's 'Royals'

Hey, did you know that Kiwi songstress Lorde wrote a Grammy-winning song that has the same name as the baseball team from Kansas City? Well, if you live in San Francisco and it has somehow eluded your ears, you're going to have to look somewhere other than the radio to find it.

On Friday, two stations in the Bay Area, KFOG and KOIT, removed the song from their playlists for the duration of the World Series. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Tale of the tape: Giants-Royals, Game 1

Tale of the tape: Giants-Royals, Game 1

Madison Bumgarner
Against the Royals
2014: 1 GS, 0-1, 3.38 ERA
Career: 1 GS, 0-1, 3.38 ERA
Loves to face: Nori Aoki (0-for-13), Alcides Escobar (1-for-6, 2 K)
Hates to face: Billy Butler, 2-for-3, HR, 3 RBIs

Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Because all he's done is win this postseason. In his four October starts, Bumgarner owns a 1.42 ERA, a .212 opponents' average and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 28-to-5. The Giants have won three of his four starts, including Game 5 of the National League Championship Series that sealed series MVP Award honors for Bumgarner and punched San Francisco's World Series ticket.

More

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Pitcher beware: If the Royals are going to get to Bumgarner, they should do it early. In his 33 regular-season starts, he surrendered 41 hits and 21 runs in the first inning, most of any frame.

Bottom line: Bumgarner retired the final 13 Cardinals batters he faced in the NLCS, and there's no reason he shouldn't similarly stifle the Royals. He is a true ace.

James Shields
Against the Giants
2014: 1 GS 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Career: 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Loves to face: Hunter Pence (0-for-11, 3 K)
Gregor Blanco: 4-for-7, 3B, 3 RBIs

Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Because he's done it before, working a four-hit shutout at Kauffman Stadium opposite Tim Hudson on Aug. 9 for a 5-0 Royals win. Shields surrendered only one hit over the final five innings of that game and struck out Pablo Sandoval to end it.

Pitcher beware: Shields has never exactly earned the "Big Game James" moniker bestowed upon him in the Rays' Minor League chain, going 3-4 with a 5.19 ERA in his first nine career postseason starts, including a 5.63 ERA in his three starts this year.

Bottom line: Positioned for a pair of starts opposite Bumgarner, this would be a very good time for Shields to earn his nickname.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Affeldt stays course to aid Giants' World Series run

Veteran and key cog in bullpen will match up against former club in Fall Classic

Affeldt stays course to aid Giants' World Series run

KANSAS CITY -- The letter, handwritten and rather harsh, arrived at the Colorado Rockies' clubhouse, directed to Jeremy Affeldt. Just because the words were difficult to read didn't mean they weren't accurate.

It was a letter from Royals general manager Dayton Moore. It was August 2006, and Moore had just traded Affeldt to the Rockies. But rather than let the trade (Affeldt and right-hander Denny Bautista for righty Scott Dohmann and first baseman Ryan Shealy) speak for itself, Moore took a moment to write Affeldt a note of both admonishment and encouragement.

More

"I needed to give you an opportunity to succeed," Moore wrote, according to Affeldt's re-telling on the eve of the World Series. "You were at a point where I didn't think you could do that [in Kansas City], because you're not approaching the game with any joy."

Was Moore right? Absolutely.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"I hated the game," Affeldt recalled. "I almost quit. I remember sitting at the counter at my house at 135th and State Line Road, crying and telling my wife, 'I'm done. I don't want to play anymore. I'm tired of failing. I can pitch good and still be bad. I get the same result every night.'"

This is all hard to believe now that Affeldt is such a long-standing key cog in this Giants bullpen. He has a 2.76 ERA in 362 regular season appearances over six regular seasons with San Francisco. More impressively, he has a 0.87 ERA in 20 2/3 innings over the course of their 2010, '12 and '14 postseason runs.

But in 2006, Affeldt had a 5.91 ERA at the time of the July 31 trade, and a career that had begun with the Royals in 2002 appeared to be going nowhere. If not for the words of two people -- Affeldt's wife, Larisa, and Moore -- he might have called it quits. Larisa reminded Affeldt that he'd never be able to look a kid in the eye and tell them not to give up on their dreams if he did just that, and Moore reminded him that a fresh start could do him some good.

Things didn't immediately improve for Affeldt on the mound in Colorado, but his outlook did. And in 2007, he not only had what was, to that point, his best statistical season but was part of a Rockies team that won the NL pennant.

"If I would have been released, I might have taken it as my out and said, 'I'm done,'" Affeldt said. "But [Moore] didn't allow me to do that."

So remember this little story in those late innings of this World Series. If Affeldt gets key outs against this Royals club in the heat of battle, Moore, in a weird way, will be the one to blame.

But in a game that is often about business, Affeldt's personal anecdote suggests that sometimes the game is about people rooting for each other.

"I have a lot of respect for Dayton Moore," Affeldt said. "And I'm happy that the product that he decided to build has paid off and he's put a World Series team into place."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

The Giants' Perez: From plumber to World Series OF

|
The Giants' Perez: From plumber to World Series OF

On Tuesday, Giants backup outfielder Juan Perez will be on his first World Series roster. Nearly a decade ago, he was a part-time plumber living in the Bronx.

After going undrafted out of DeWitt Clinton High School in the mid-2000s, the teenager took a job at his father's plumbing business.

Continue Reading on Cut4

MLB announces World Series umpiring crew

MLB announces World Series umpiring crew

Major League Baseball announced its World Series umpiring crew Monday, led by crew chief Jeff Kellogg, who boasts more than 22 years of experience and will be umpiring his fifth Fall Classic.

Ted Barrett and Jeff Nelson, also regular season crew chiefs, were named as part of Kellogg's team, as were Eric Cooper, Jerry Meals, Jim Reynolds and Hunter Wendelstedt.

More

Meals will be behind the plate for Game 1 on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET airtime/8:07 ET first pitch, FOX). He'll then head to New York for Game 3 to serve as the replay official for the remainder of the series. Nelson, the replay official for Games 1 and 2, will join the rest of the crew in San Francisco for Game 3.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Brian O'Nora will serve as replay assistant to Meals and Nelson during the series.

All seven umpires named to the World Series crew also worked in the Division Series. Barrett was the crew chief for the Royals' ALDS win over the Angels.

As for the 53-year-old Kellogg, 2014 marks his first World Series as crew chief. He most recently umpired the Fall Classic during the Giants' victory over the Rangers in '10.

Barrett and Nelson will be umpiring their third World Series, while Cooper, Meals, Reynolds and Wendelstedt will all be making their debuts. Wendelstedt, whose father, Harry, worked five Fall Classics, will become part of the fourth father-son duo to ever have worked on baseball's biggest stage.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Casilla's cool demeanor belies competitive fire within

Casilla's cool demeanor belies competitive fire within

KANSAS CITY -- Being a man of mystery agrees with Giants closer Santiago Casilla. Hitters have no idea what pitch the right-hander will throw them -- or, as often happens, throw past them.

"He's a starter in the bullpen," Giants right-hander George Kontos said, citing Casilla's ability to throw cut fastballs, sliders, curveballs and changeups with equal effectiveness. Most relievers command one or two pitches, but Casilla diversified himself early in his career by being a starting pitcher extensively in the Minor Leagues.

More

Casilla also keeps his emotions mainly to himself, unlike a large percentage of his counterparts, who favor gesticulations, primal screams or both when they're on the mound.

"My comfort level -- it works out, you know?" Casilla said.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

This sets Casilla apart from his Giants predecessors who coped with the high-profile role by frequently engaging in demonstrative behavior. Brian Wilson grew a beard, gestured to the heavens to honor his deceased father after every save, and advanced to the mound for each home appearance to the tune of House of Pain's "Jump Around." Sergio Romo grew a beard (before Wilson did, actually) and, since becoming San Francisco's top setup man in an exchange of roles with Casilla in late June, still bellows cathartically after recording important outs and has kept the catchy "El Mechon" as his entry music.

Casilla, 34, is clean shaven, avoids histrionics and brushed aside a request from Giants officials to assign himself an anthem that would excite the AT&T Park crowd when he appears in games.

"I am emotional, but I try to keep that inside," Casilla said. "It depends on how I feel. I'm not going to show it just so people can see it, but I really am amped up."

Casilla has a chance to repeat a different custom that Wilson and Romo established -- registering a save in the Giants' World Series-clinching game. Wilson struck out Texas' Nelson Cruz to end the 2010 Fall Classic. Romo concluded the '12 Series by freezing Detroit's Miguel Cabrera with an unexpected fastball. With the Giants having reached their third Series in five seasons, which begins Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals (4:30 p.m. PT air time on FOX, 5:07 first pitch), Casilla hopes to join Wilson and Romo in recording the season's final out.

Video: Romo seals 2012 World Series title

Casilla has primed himself for this opportunity. After Romo's bout of ineffectivness in late June prompted manager Bruce Bochy to revamp the back end of the bullpen, Casilla notched 17 saves in 18 chances. His career-best 1.70 ERA ranked fifth among National League relievers, he tied for fifth in WHIP (0.86), and held opponents to the league's sixth-lowest batting average (.177).

Casilla has sustained his excellence in the postseason, earning all four of the team's saves. He went unscored upon in four appearances, spanning 3 2/3 innings, against St. Louis in the NL Championship Series, which the Giants captured in five games.

Video: Casilla closes out Cards

On a bullpen staff that routinely works hard by performing extra conditioning drills daily with strength coach Carl Kochan, Casilla distinguishes himself.

"He's always doing stuff," Kontos said. "He's in the weight room doing shoulder exercises. Or he's working on his core. He's always doing something to get himself better. He thinks doing more is going to produce more on the field."

Yet 10 seasons passed before Casilla developed consistency. Signed by the Oakland A's in 2000, Casilla posted a 5.11 ERA in 152 relief appearances from 2004-09.

"He had all the potential in the world -- a live arm and unbelievable stuff," said Giants right-hander Tim Hudson, who was with the A's when Casilla made his Major League debut in 2004.

Following the misguided example of many young pitchers, Casilla tried to strike out adversity instead of analyzing its challenges.

"The hitters killed me in 2009," Casilla said. "In Oakland, I tried throwing with more velocity, but Dallas [Braden] told me all my pitches were straight."

Fellow pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez delivered Casilla some advice that offseason while they performed for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. Rodriguez urged him to develop his curveball.

"That pitch has helped me a lot," said Casilla, who mixes it shrewdly with his harder deliveries.

The Giants signed Casilla on Christmas Eve in 2009. He proved to be quite a gift by posting a 7-2 record with a 1.95 ERA in 52 games the next season. Casilla has continued to improve since then.

"He's a complete pitcher," Hudson said. "He gets out there and commands the mound. Obviously, his stuff has only gotten better."

Casilla also has remained strong mentally. He's mostly immune to the pressure that comes with performing late in the game.

"The eighth and ninth innings are the same for me," said Casilla, who converted a personal-high 25 saves in 2012 after succeeding an injured Wilson. Romo finished that season as the closer in a reversal of this season's switch.

Casilla doesn't dwell on whether he serves as closer or setup man.

"I just like winning," said Casilla, whose three-year, $15 million contract extends through next season and includes a club option for 2016. "I'm just a pitcher who works for the San Francisco Giants. I told that to Sergio and told him not to feel bad. I just want to do my job in whichever inning is necessary."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

October Royals: SF to meet kings of AL

Ten things to know about Kansas City, which enters World Series 8-0 this postseason

October Royals: SF to meet kings of AL

To the Giants and their fans, we offer both a heartfelt congratulations on ascending to the World Series for the third time in five seasons and a few words of warning:

Beware the Royals.

More

Granted, not many people were saying that going into October. And come to think of it, not many people were saying that about the Giants, either. These are two Wild Card clubs that have greatly exceeded postseason expectations, and they should make for a great Fall Classic pairing.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

But because the San Francisco faithful have been preoccupied with other matters the last few weeks, we thought it might be beneficial to provide a refresher on the Royals and how they got to this stage for the first time since 1985.

Here are 10 things to know about your upcoming opponent:

1. They've forgotten how to lose
Well, this is the most obvious one. Eight straight victories to open this postseason. No team has ever done that. So much of baseball, when it comes to in-game execution and mental acuity, ultimately comes down to confidence. And while the Giants are certainly riding high right about now, the Royals' current confidence level is awfully difficult to match.

"We're playing like nothing else matters," said fourth outfielder, pinch-runner and resident quote machine Jarrod Dyson. "Everybody was doubting us. If somebody doubted you to do something, you're going to try to prove them wrong, right? And you hope they keep doubting you."

So there's the first lesson: Don't doubt them.

2. They don't beat themselves
Hey, remember when Cardinals reliever Randy Choate's wild throw brought home the winning run in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series? Or when first baseman Matt Adams made those two terrible throws in Game 4? Good times for the Giants, right?

Well, hope you enjoyed them for all they were worth, because it's doubtful the Royals are going to commit such debilitating gaffes.

It has become an increasingly popular opinion to state that the Royals have the best defense in baseball. ("Plus defenders all over the field," an NL scout said.) And the work outfield coach Rusty Kuntz and infield coach Mike Jirschele put into properly positioning these guys for each specific situation has drawn raves. The single biggest separator in the American League Championship Series sweep of the O's was the massive highlight reel of great plays they made, from Lorenzo Cain sprinting and diving around the outfield grass to Alex Gordon crashing against the wall to Mike Moustakas making that amazing over-the-rail grab of an Adam Jones popup.

Moustakas, in fact, illustrates the organizational emphasis on "D" better than anybody. He was billed as a middle-of-the-pack defensive project, at best, when the Royals drafted him in 2007, but the work he put in with Jirschele (then a Minor League manager) in Triple-A has made him a reliable glove in a lineup loaded with them.

The underrated guy in all of this might be second baseman Omar Infante, who is playing with a bum shoulder but continues to make great plays up the middle.

"He made three or four plays in the LCS that most guys don't make," the scout said.

Video: Kuntz on MLB Tonight

3. Speed, man. Speed
Nobody has it quite like these Royals have it. You know a team has a lot of speed if it can routinely pinch-run for Nori Aoki, a guy who has stolen 67 bases over the last three seasons.

Say this for the O's in that LCS sweep: They at least limited the Royals' runners to a single stolen base in three attempts (Dyson was thrown out twice). The emphasis Buck Showalter placed all year on his pitchers holding runners and being quick to the plate paid off, as did the unique positioning of first baseman Steve Pearce, who would actually stray off the bag (sometimes impacting the runner's view of the mound) during the "holding" process.

"People have a tendency to deride Buck and his strategy and extreme decisions," the scout said, "but that was a tactic that seemed to work."

The O's were one of the better teams in the AL at limiting steals, while the Giants were more middle of the pack in the NL (their 107 steals allowed ranked seventh), so we'll see how this dynamic ultimately affects the Series. But the Royals will definitely be looking to run.

Video: Royals running wild in playoffs

4. If they've got a lead going into the seventh, say your prayers
Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland have rightfully been called a "nine-out closer." Between the regular and postseason, they have combined for a ridiculous 1.25 ERA with a .176 average against in 230 innings pitched. (Davis, famously, has yet to allow a home run this year). And even though all three are right-handed, they all match up well against both sides.

"You can put nine lefties in a row in the seventh, eighth and ninth," the scout said, "and they're still going to roll those guys at you."

So, you know, good luck with that.

Video: Bullpen breaks down ALCS win

5. They put the ball in play, plain and simple
They did so in 74 percent of their plate appearances in the regular season, the highest such percentage in baseball (the Giants, for the record, were in a six-way tie for fourth, at 69 percent).

What we saw in the LCS was the value of that trait on the postseason stage, as it not only put the Royals in better position to utilize their speed on the basepaths, but it also tested the opposition's defense and turned some bloops and dribblers into big innings. They scored their only two runs of Game 4 in the first inning, without hitting a single ball out of the infield. The Royals don't walk much (their walk rate was the worst in baseball), but, like the Giants, they haven't struck out much this postseason, either. In fact, the Royals led all of baseball by striking out once every 6.15 plate appearances in the regular season.

"We'd love to have everybody with a .360-plus on-base percentage and big-time power, but that's not how we're built," general manager Dayton Moore said. "You've got to know your approach and the importance of making contact in those important situations."

This could -- maybe even should -- have an impact on how Giants pitchers approach them.

"You've got to find a way to beat these guys out of the zone," the scout said. "You can't get ahead of them by throwing fastballs down the middle. Even the corners might not be enough. You might have to pitch them off the edges to see if they'll chase."

And the other reason you have to be careful in the zone with the Royals right now is...

6. They are suddenly very homer-happy
For further evidence that October is a season unto itself, consider this: The Royals went, on average, 58.4 at-bats between homers, by far the worst mark in the Majors. But in the postseason, they've gone deep once every 35.3 at-bats (the Giants, by comparison, have hit one out every 72.2 at-bats).

So forget the regular-season stats, and for that matter, forget that both of the ballparks in this World Series have a tendency to suppress power. The Royals are a legitimate long-ball threat at the moment, because Moustakas (four homers) and Eric Hosmer (two homers) have found their power strokes at just the right time. Heck, even Alcides Escobar hit one out in the ALCS.

Video: Royals' extra-inning home runs

7. They're unselfish
The Royals and Giants have both showed a bent toward bunting this postseason, with seven sacrifices apiece. For the Royals, the approach is not specific to any particular part of the batting order.

In Game 3 against the O's, for instance, Moustakas, their biggest power threat, put one down to advance what turned out to be the winning run. In the first inning of Game 4, Lorenzo Cain, their No. 3 hitter, did the same. So you see the unselfishness offensively, and you see it defensively when a guy like Gordon risks his body by crashing into the outfield wall in pursuit of a fly ball.

"This is a team on a mission," the scout said. "This is a team that's playing for things bigger than their next contract or name on the back of their jersey."

8. Their greatest source of vulnerability right now might actually be the rotation
Solid starting pitching has been a strength for the Royals this season, but staff ace James Shields (5.63 ERA) has struggled in the postseason, No. 2 man Yordano Ventura showed diminished velocity and left his ALCS start with shoulder tightness, and the Royals have had to be careful enough with Danny Duffy's innings that he has been kept out of the rotation altogether this October.

That's put a lot more onus on veterans Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie. They've both been excellent so far this postseason, though neither has pitched past the sixth inning (and with that bullpen, they haven't needed to).

9. It's quite possible we've sold their manager short
The Giants have Bruce Bochy, who might be punching his ticket to Cooperstown with the NL dynasty he's helped put together in San Francisco. Royals manager Ned Yost, on the other hand, is a heavy target for criticism, even by the usual managerial standards. Because he got fired from a Brewers club 12 games from the finish line and in the thick of the playoff chase in 2008, there is a sort of stigma attached to his name. And his in-game moves with his bullpen and bunting are often scrutinized.

But you can't argue with the results this October, nor can you dismiss the respect these young players have for him for sticking with them and for putting them in position to get the best out of their abilities. And if it's possible for a manager to get on a strategic "hot streak," Yost is absolutely in the zone right now.

10. They'll have a long layoff before the Series
And of course, so will the Giants. But if you think the particularly lengthy 145-hour rest period between actual, in-game action will matter for the Royals, history insists otherwise. Five of the eight clubs who had a five-day break going into the World Series nevertheless went on to win it, including four of the most recent five.

The Giants can be heartened by the fact that, of those recent five, the only club to lose was the 2012 Tigers -- against the Giants. But again, for a Royals team that relies so heavily on the back end of the bullpen, this little rest from the rigors of regular work might be a blessing.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Past, present and Panda: Sandoval key to three Series teams

Past, present and Panda: Sandoval key to three Series teams

SAN FRANCISCO -- An unlit cigar dangled from Pablo Sandoval's mouth as he greeted well-wishers in the Giants' postgame clubhouse. Sandoval clutched a bottle of champagne in his left hand; two more poked out the back pockets of his uniform pants. He posed for pictures. "Pablo!" someone yelled from a few paces away. Sandoval grinned.

"Man, it's exciting to be in October," he said. "Last year, I was home watching the games on TV."

More

This year, Sandoval is augmenting the postseason reputation he forged into gold two years ago as World Series MVP. Like teammates Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and others, Sandoval has never lost a postseason series in eight attempts. He has personally played a significant role in most of them, batting .325 for his October career with six home runs in 32 games. Sandoval is as much a part of San Francisco's success over the past half-decade as anyone, a more significant part than most.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
"Pablo, he's a great player," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's a gifted player."

Sandoval's role in Thursday's National League Championship Series Game 5 clincher typified both the types of player that he is. In the first inning, the third baseman made a leaping snare of Jhonny Peralta's line drive to start an inning-ending double play. In his second at-bat, Sandoval reached well outside the strike zone to lash an Adam Wainwright pitch into left field for a double. In his final plate appearance, he rapped a leadoff single into right field to spark the Giants' game-winning rally.

"It's exciting," Sandoval said. "You win or you go home. That's what we try to do every single day this time [of year], not get too excited in situations. You want to win games. So I think this is one of those things I've got on my mind right now, get a good pitch on the plate, have fun no matter what the situation is, what the score is, what the type of game you play is. Just have fun out there."

"Just have fun out there" could be the rallying cry of a player who seems to achieve it more often than most. Sandoval's nickname is fun, with or without the Kung Fu prefix. His hitting approach is fun, particularly amongst a sea of contemporaries who prefer to shrink the strike zone with every pitch. Sandoval's fielding style is fun, resulting in play after play that so many don't expect him to make.

Video: Sandoval turns two

Sandoval's 245 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame will always make him an easy target of comic relief, but the fact is that the Giants need their Panda. Which makes this October his most interesting to date.

After spending six years in San Francisco, including three lucrative arbitration seasons, Sandoval will become a free agent for the first time this winter. The Giants have a history of rewarding players for less. But Sandoval would require a high level of commitment, perhaps similar to the five-year, $90 million deal general manager Brian Sabean gave Hunter Pence last September.

Because the 28-year-old Sandoval is a unique player, it is difficult to estimate the back end of his career arc. He is coming off a strong defensive season, but he weighs an eighth of a ton, relying on an otherworldly set of reflexes. If those slow, Sandoval could quickly become a liability.

At the plate, Sandoval is widely considered one of the game's best bad-ball hitters. His swing rate on pitches outside the strike zone ranked first in the Majors over the summer, while his contact rate on those pitches was sixth in the NL. If that ability wanes, Sandoval's low walk total and relatively modest home run power would struggle to keep him afloat.

From Sandoval's perspective, there is also the notion of winning. Signed, developed and enjoyed by the Giants, Sandoval has rarely tasted anything but success throughout his career. He is comfortable within a clubhouse and a city that embraces him, amidst a fanbase that worked tirelessly to vote him into the 2012 All-Star Game. Leaving could mean the end of the "refuse to lose" attitude that Sandoval loves to espouse this time of year, complete with cigars and champagne and so many other accoutrements of a World Series berth.

When asked about his future earlier this week, Sandoval simply shook his head.

"We still got more games," he said.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Giants' do-everything man Petit ready for any task

Giants' do-everything man Petit ready for any task

SAN FRANCISCO -- Taped to the door inside the Giants' clubhouse at AT&T Park is a white sheet of paper with a simple message scribbled in Sharpie. "Nunquam Non Paratus," it reads. "Never unprepared."

The sign, though deliberately minimalistic, seems to be missing just one thing: a picture of Yusmeiro Petit, San Francisco's do-it-all right-hander who has become a poster child for preparedness this October.

More

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Petit has made two crucial playoff appearances, each in a situation totally unexpected but critically important. In Game 2 of the National League Division Series in Washington, he pitched six shutout innings -- the 12th through the 17th -- before the Giants won in the 18th. In Game 4 of the NL Championship Series against St. Louis on Wednesday, Petit relieved Ryan Vogelsong in the fourth and tossed three flawless frames, setting the stage for a comeback victory.

Now, just three years removed from a stint with the Oaxaca Warriors of the Mexican League, Petit is headed to the World Series. Without him, San Francisco might not have made it this far.

"We can say that about a lot of the guys here," said Sergio Romo, "but he's one of those ones that comes to mind first."

Petit's performance this postseason -- nine innings, no runs, two hits -- has led some to question whether he deserves a spot in the World Series rotation, particularly after Vogelsong's recent subpar outing. But manager Bruce Bochy would rather keep Petit in the bullpen, where he will be ready to enter a game at any time.

"I kind of like Petit and the job he's done in that role that we've had him in," Bochy said before Saturday's team workout. "You go back to Washington, without Petit, hard to say what would have happened. And of course with St. Louis, he went out there and gave us three big innings. He's a great swingman."

During the regular season, Petit made 12 starts and 27 relief appearances, quietly breaking a Major League record along the way by retiring 46 consecutive batters over an eight-game stretch in July and August.

"You ask any pitcher how hard that is, they will tell you that might be one of the hardest records to ever get," said Javier Lopez. "And he has it."

"He's been a big deal for us all year," Jeremy Affeldt said. "The weapon that he can bring to a 'pen, in the playoffs especially, is one that a lot of teams don't necessarily have."

Video: Petit's consecutive outs record

The fact that Petit, who hails from Maracaibo, Venezuela, is contributing for a big league team at all -- let alone pushing one through the playoffs -- is a wonder in itself. Over his 11-year career, the 29-year-old has been around the baseball world and back.

Once a prized prospect for the Mets, Petit was involved in a trade with the Marlins for Carlos Delgado in 2005. He struggled in Florida and was sent to Arizona, where he went 9-19 with a 5.05 ERA in three seasons. Then came the serious toil -- first in the Mariners' Minor League system, and then, after getting cut by Seattle, in the Mexican League in 2011.

"When I was in Mexico, I always said to myself, 'This is going to be my goal, to go back to the United States and be successful,'" said Petit, through a translator. "I always knew that this could happen. I didn't know how it was going to happen, but I knew this could happen."

After Mexico, Petit played winter ball in Venezuela, where he shined in front of Giants coaches Hensley Meulens and Jose Alguacil. That November, San Francisco signed Petit to a Minor League deal.

Petit has shown flashes of brilliance with the Giants, most notably on Sept. 6, 2013, when he came within one strike of a perfect game against Arizona. But he has never been more valuable to his club than he is right now.

What changed?

"I've changed a lot, both personally and mentally," said Petit. "As a pitcher, I think I concentrate a lot more on the strike zone. Since I came back from Mexico, I have been able to do that a lot, concentrating more on the strike zone."

It sounds simple enough -- but what Petit is doing is anything but simple. His niche role is not very sexy, but his mastery of it has won him the admiration of his teammates.

"He's ready to start a game," said Romo, "then long relief, then get an out, then sit for 10 days, then throw six, then sit for another 10 days, then throw three shutout. I don't know how he's ready every day."

Though Petit stands 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, his fastball typically sits below 90 mph. To have success, he mixes and matches with a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.

"Having that kind of four-pitch command without regular reps is, again, something you can ask every pitcher, they'll tell you that's really hard to do," Lopez said. "Just the ability to go the long innings, set up a couple innings, do whatever it takes just to help us out, has really been a godsend for this club."

Petit has made some of his greatest strides with his curveball since coming to San Francisco. He threw it 24 percent of the time this past regular season and 20 percent of the time in 2013. In '09, Petit threw 17 curveballs total.

"The curveball has been very important for me," he said. "I know I can throw it in any count. Before, I didn't have that much confidence in it. It was a slow pitch and they could hit it easily, but not now. Now, I have a lot of confidence in that pitch."

Watching Petit go about his business, his demeanor does not exactly scream confidence. Romo described him as a "very quiet, under-the-radar man," while Travis Ishikawa, the NLCS hero who knows a thing or two about improbable journeys, called him "humble" and "reserved."

"He knows how good he is," Ishikawa said, "but he also knows that he doesn't need to preach it, either. He just kind of goes out and lets his arm do the talking."

Still, make no mistake: Petit is having the time of his life. Going to the World Series, he said, is a dream come true.

"It's fun to watch him be happy," said Romo, smiling wide. "That's one of the cool parts about it. You can definitely tell how happy he is."

Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

October Giants: KC to see foe of a different color

Ten things to know about San Francisco, entering its third World Series in five seasons

October Giants: KC to see foe of a different color

The euphoria in Kansas City is wonderful to behold. When you wait three decades to party like it's 1985, you don't want it to end. And this is one serious party, starting with the American League Wild Card Game conquest of the A's and riding right through playoff sweeps of the favored Angels and Orioles.

Now here come the Giants in the World Series, bringing a sobering reminder. While the soaring confidence of the K.C. faithful in these dashing young Royals is fully justified, they haven't seen anything yet quite like this troupe from San Francisco.

More

The Giants' track record is beyond impressive, with World Series championships in 2010 and '12. They have acquired a deeply rooted belief that October belongs to them. Something will break their way and they'll eventually prevail, no matter how bleak it might appear.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

Thirty wins in the past 41 postseason games will do that.

Here are 10 things to know about the team that plans to crash the big party:

1. The Giants are tougher than they might look
San Francisco doesn't run out a band of hulking, menacing figures. When you get past ace Madison Bumgarner and outfielder/pinch-hitter Michael Morse, you find a collection of normal-sized Giants, and one not so normal in shape. Pablo Sandoval, playful as a baby panda, might not look like an elite athlete, but looks can be deceiving. Like his team, Sandoval thrives on pressure.

The Giants do have a size advantage at one position: manager. Bruce Bochy is a big dude, with inches and pounds on Royals manager Ned Yost. There is no better leader in the sport than Bochy, but physical intimidation has nothing to do with it.

Bochy imposes his will in ways so subtle hardly anyone even notices. He walks slowly and carries no stick, but his athletes will run through walls for him -- not that he'd ever make that request, being much too cool and smart.

The Giants' toughness on the field springs from Bochy's faith in their ability to handle themselves in any situation. If push comes to shove, they'll shove back. But their toughness is on the inside. Last time they were in the big show on the grand stage, two Octobers back, they swept a Tigers outfit that looked like it could have competed in the NFL. Size doesn't matter in this sport -- unless you're talking about the organ in the chest.

Video: Bochy on Giants' continuity

2. This isn't the Olympics
These Royals are breathtaking. We've seen relay teams in the Summer Olympic Games that aren't much swifter. The Giants can run, but not like these guys. On the track, it would look like Jamaica matched against a Bay Area high school team in the sprint relay.

Speed kills -- the Royals' athleticism has separated them -- but you shouldn't get overconfident about running circles around the Giants. What speed they do have, they put to use at just the right moment.

Young bench guy Matt Duffy scored from second on a wild pitch at a critical moment in the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals. The Giants pressure teams into lapses and mistakes, changing games. They might not steal a lot of bases -- or any bases -- but they'll take the extra base and they rarely run into an out. Their outfielders can't fly like Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, but they get there and catch almost everything.

Video: Duffy scores on wild pitch 

3. MadBum stands alone in October
Bumgarner has emerged as a 6-foot-5, 235-pound security blanket. When it comes to delivering the goods in postseason play, the Giants' 25-year-old lefty from North Carolina takes a back seat to nobody in the game.

Two months past his 21st birthday, when he made his postseason debut in 2010 with the championship-bound Giants, Bumgarner is 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 11 postseason appearances, 10 as a starter. His first gem came in Game 4 of the World Series that October, when he shut out the Rangers on three hits across eight innings in Texas. The Giants won it the following night behind Tim Lincecum.

Bumgarner's only subpar outings came in the NL playoffs in 2012 against the Reds and Cards, but he got it together again in the World Series with seven scoreless innings against the Tigers, holding them to two hits while striking out eight in Game 2.

Calling on that experience, MadBum has been MadBomb in 2014. In 31 2/3 innings against the Pirates, Nationals and Cards, he has yielded five earned runs and 19 hits, striking out 28 while walking five. His ERA in the four starts is 1.42. He is on one of the great postseason runs in history, mixing quality breaking stuff and premium heat with that deceptive cross-firing delivery.

Royals ace James Shields has earned his "Big Game James" designation over the years, but he has not had an October comparable to Bumgarner's.

"We've got a lot of guys that [have] been through this," Bumgarner said. "They know what to expect, and they are not afraid of the moment, by no means. And I think the young guys that we have that have not been through it, they feed off of that, and they know that they don't have to be afraid either. They are stepping up and making some big plays for us and getting some big hits.

"I really like the group of guys that we have here. It's going to be a fun Series against Kansas City."

Video: MLB Tonight analyzes Bumgarner

4. Aging starters won't scare
Behind Bumgarner, their horse, Bochy lines up three righties -- Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong -- who haven't heated up radar guns in a long time. But these are tough-minded, battle-tested vets who love the moment, bringing wisdom and guile to their starts.

Experience in a World Series, with everything so magnified, can be an asset. The Giants have it in large volume.

Video: Hudson on Giants winning NLCS

5. The bullpen gets it done
They don't blow teams away in the fashion of the Royals' three flamethrowers, but the Giants' relievers have a history of getting outs when it counts. Santiago Casilla is their third closer in the three October runs, and he is ably complemented by lefties Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez, along with Yusmeiro Petit and Sergio Romo from the right side.

You don't get a steady diet of 97-100 mph heat from these guys, but they are smart and tough in that Giants way. This might not be the slam-dunk Royals advantage everyone assumes it is.

Video: Casilla shuts door on Cards in Game 4

6. Buster Posey is the new standard for winning
Mild-mannered and soft-spoken, with no hint of bravado, Posey is the game's premier winner in Derek Jeter's wake. Posey has caught every game in the Giants' three postseason runs, starting as a rookie in 2010. They are 30-11 in October -- think about that for a second -- with Buster calling, blocking and hitting pitches. It's no accident.

Adopting the demeanor of his manager, Posey delivers in subtle ways. Nobody will call him Mr. October with all those singles, but that's who he is.

Video: Posey on third trip to World Series

7. They make themselves right at home on the road
Kauffman Stadium will feel like a college football crowd for Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7. The Giants might have a hard time hearing each other, but they are so finely tuned, verbal communication is not always necessary.

This is one of the great road clubs in postseason history. Since 2010, the Giants are 16-5 in hostile environments -- even better than their 14-6 record at home. This speaks to character, mental toughness and chemistry, the intangibles that drive this amazing team.

8. They have rediscovered the long ball
Through their first nine postseason games, the Giants had been outhomered 10-2. They were scoring in creative ways -- errors, outs, wild pitches, walks -- but rarely with loud noises off the bat.

That changed in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Cards. Rookie Joe Panik ended the team's homerless drought at 242 at-bats with a two-run shot, Morse tied it with his eighth-inning blast, and Travis Ishikawa struck the decisive blow. During the regular season, the Giants hit 37 more homers than the Royals. Kansas City stole 97 more bags. This could make for a fascinating contrast of styles.

Video: Ishikawa's homer sends Giants to World Series

9. They keep things loose to manage stress
The team personality is even-keel, but the Giants have imported some high-energy performers in recent years to lighten and brighten the atmosphere. Hunter Pence is an original, arguably the most interesting individual in baseball. Peavy, Hudson and Morse are live wires.

The Giants are all business between the lines with Posey, Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford and Co. But they know when and how to have a good time. Balance is everything.

Video: Pence on winning NLCS at home

10. Pence, Panda love the moment
Sandoval already has his place in postseason history with his three-homer performance in Game 1 of the 2012 Fall Classic in San Francisco. "The Panda" is not one to change his style in the postseason, hacking away at anything that looks good -- which is pretty much anything from his toes to his nose. He's a .325 career postseason hitter in 32 games, with six homers and 16 RBIs, and his glove is pure gold. Beware the Panda.

Video: Sandoval joins MLB Tonight

Like Sandoval, Pence plays with a heightened spirit reflecting his love of the game and the challenge it presents every day. He plays every day with the same passion, and it clearly spreads through the ranks. Everything he does looks unconventional, but the results are all that matter. An All-Star this season with 29 doubles, 10 triples and 20 homers, Pence has been held to three doubles and three RBIs this postseason. He's due to break out.

Video: Pence on MLB Tonight

Lyle Spencer is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Pitch from Zito helped sell Hudson on Giants

Pitch from Zito helped sell Hudson on Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The merits of Barry Zito's seven-year tenure with the Giants have been debated ad nauseam, but he deserves an assist for the contributions the team has received from Tim Hudson this season.

Hudson and Zito achieved stardom together in the early 2000s as two-thirds of Oakland's three-headed pitching monster, along with Mark Mulder. Almost one decade after their time as A's teammates ended, Zito helped bring Hudson back to the Bay Area.

More

At 38 years old and coming off a gruesome broken right ankle, Hudson knew time was running out on his chances to advance in the postseason for the first time in his career. About a week after the Giants declined to pick up the 2014 option on Zito's contract last November, Hudson -- also a free agent at the time -- called his former teammate and good friend.

"It was a little awkward at first," Hudson said, "but I asked what he thought of San Francisco."

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"It wasn't awkward on my end," Zito recently told MLB.com. "I had made my decision earlier in August that I was going to take some time away from the game and focus on family. I wasn't upset he was taking my spot or anything like that."

The Giants liked what they saw from Hudson with the Braves before his ankle injury in July 2013, and questions about his durability -- given his age and the injury -- kept the market within reach, if he was willing to do a two-year deal. He was also weighing interest from the A's, Rays and Royals.

"I got the impression that he was not sold on it yet, that he was just feeling it out," Zito said of the conversation. "He obviously knew a lot from playing against them, but when you actually get there and figure out what's going on behind closed doors, you can be very surprised."

Zito assured Hudson the perception of the Giants being among the Majors' top all-around organizations was indeed reality.

"I said it's a first-rate organization, from the top down," Zito said. "I didn't have to sell him on the Bay Area, because he'd been there a while, but Giants fans, I told him they had kind of changed from when we were in Oakland.

"Giants fans had a little more of a rep of just coming out for baseball games and not really having a die-hard presence and creating an intimidating atmosphere. It was very light. I told him 2010 changed everything. It became a place where teams didn't want to come in."

It also became where Hudson wanted to finish his career.

"He had nothing but great things to say about it, and he really made my decision to come here a lot easier," Hudson said. "I trust what he says; he's a dear friend. That went a long way with me deciding to come here."

That decision has turned out pretty well.

The wily veteran quickly became one of the most respected players inside the Giants' clubhouse. Hudson regained his All-Star form on the mound and took a sub-3.00 ERA into September, which helped stabilize a rotation stricken by Matt Cain's struggles/injury and Tim Lincecum's inconsistency. Hudson has a 3.29 ERA in two postseason starts this year, and he is part of a team that won a playoff series for the first time in his 16-year career. He'll make his World Series debut on Friday when he starts Game 3 at AT&T Park. Game 1 of the Fall Classic is on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. PT air time on FOX, 5:07 p.m. PT first pitch) in Kansas City.

Kade Hudson on his dad

"We knew we had a quality starter to add to our rotation, and we did our research, our evaluations, so we had some anticipations of what he'd be able to do," assistant general manager Bobby Evans said, "but he's fulfilled all of that and more.

"We wouldn't be here without him."

Getting Hudson his first championship has become a rallying cry in the Giants' clubhouse. Ryan Vogelsong thinks of Hudson during his postseason starts. "Teach Me How To Huddy" blared through the clubhouse speakers during the team's National League Championship Series.

Well, until Hunter Pence requested silence so that Hudson could address a moment 16 years in the making.

Hudson didn't have much to say -- "I'm not much of a talker, so it kind of put me on the spot," he joked afterward -- but that didn't matter. At long last, he was going to the World Series.

"That moment right there … you couldn't write a better script for it," Hudson said of the Giants' late comeback and walk-off win in Game 5 to clinch the NLCS. "Michael [Morse] hitting that homer to tie it up, and then [Travis Ishikawa] hitting that homer right there to win it. It's a storybook ending.

"It's … it's hard to put into words. It almost feels surreal, like I'm in a dream. Very rarely are you able to have those kinds of emotions with anything in life. It's an amazing thing to be able to experience it. I can't believe it, and I'm so glad it happened."

It's funny to think of who helped make it possible.

"Basically every aspect of it -- the guys, the fans, the management … every part of it is a win," Zito said of the Giants. "Obviously, it was something for him to decide.

"He made a good decision, I think."

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

MadBum, Posey in rare World Series company

MadBum, Posey in rare World Series company

When Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner arrived for good in San Francisco during the first half of the 2010 season, no one could have foreseen what would unfold over the next five seasons, and how the pair would become integral parts of a trio of trips to the World Series with the Giants.

Come Tuesday in Kansas City (4:30 p.m. PT air time/8:07 first pitch, on FOX), the Giants' catcher and their Game 1 ace will be playing in the World Series for the third time in the first five full seasons of their Major League careers, having won two rings already. They're two of nine players in the Giants' clubhouse who were there for the club's first two runs to the World Series, and Posey -- who grew up watching the Braves' run of playoff teams -- says it's definitely something to savor as the team heads for a third.

More

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"You understand that even if you do make it to the playoffs, it's difficult to get to this point," Posey said Saturday as the Giants held a workout at AT&T Park to prepare for Tuesday's Game 1. "It's something that's special. You have to appreciate it and enjoy it while you're there."

What sets Posey and Bumgarner apart from their teammates, and so many other players in the long history of the Fall Classic, is the frequency at which they have reached the game's pinnacle to start their careers. Teammates Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and injured Matt Cain had been around years before this run began, while Pablo Sandoval and Sergio Romo had a year-plus head start on the battery. Posey and Bumgarner, both first-round Draft picks, have been in the World Series from the get-go.

"These guys having the chance to do it for a third time in their first five or six [full] years in the league is really something that's unprecedented, and it's really fun to watch," said Lopez, who has a fourth World Series appearance under his belt with the 2007 Red Sox. "We've seen a lot of guys grow up quick."

You don't have to explain the significance of going 3-for-your-first-5 full seasons to 39-year-old Tim Hudson, finally making his first trip to the game's pinnacle.

"It's awesome for them to be able to experience it that often," Hudson said. "Obviously, with my experience, it's something I've searched for and waited all 16 years. It's not that easy. You have to have a lot of luck and a lot of good players. To be on a team that has that much success that often, that doesn't happen all the time, especially nowadays, with so much parity in this game."

Video: Bumgarner on going to the World Series

Over time, there have been many players who have gotten to the World Series three of their first five full seasons, or perhaps done even better. But Posey and Bumgarner are the first to do it in more than a decade.

A few of the players who have gone 3-for-5 or better in reaching the World Series once they joined their clubs full-time:

Core Four: The last group of players to achieve such World Series success in the first five full seasons of their careers was the Yankees' foursome of homegrown talent: Derek Jeter (4/5), Andy Pettitte (3/5), Jorge Posada (4/5) and Mariano Rivera (3/5).

Tomahawk Chops: The last NL team before this Giants run to reach the World Series three times in a span of five seasons (1995-99), the Braves went there five times in nine seasons. But only Chipper Jones and Mark Wohlers managed to play in at least three World Series in their first five full seasons.

Yankees and Co.: Among the Yankees dynasties, Yogi Berra won four in his first five full seasons; Joe DiMaggio started his career out with four straight rings; Hank Bauer went 5-for-5; and the list goes on and on. Babe Ruth also won three World Series titles in his first four full seasons -- with the Red Sox in 1915-19. Stan Musial won three World Series rings his first five full seasons (1942-46), and then never returned to the game's greatest stage.

What's in store for the Giants' dynamic duo and the rest of those players taking a third run at a World Series ring remains to be seen. But those fortunate enough to be there again know it's a rare treat.

"This doesn't happen that often," Lopez said. "Tim Hudson's an example of that." 

Of course, the Giants still have work to do. The Royals await in Kansas City, so the focus will have to be on Game 1, and then Game 2 (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. PT air time/8:07 first pitch, on FOX) after that.

Video: Bochy on Giants' continuity

But Giants manager Bruce Bochy says these players should take some time eventually to consider just how special this run is.

"This isn't easy to get here," Bochy said. "You saw how we had to go through a Wild Card Game, then go through two very good teams. It's pretty amazing, really, how difficult it is to get here. Hudson's had a great career and never been here. That shows you how tough it is.

"I don't think they're thinking about it now, but my hope is this winter that they do sit back and think, 'Wow, five years, and we've been to the Series three times.'"

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Back to the start: Affeldt comes full circle

Giants reliever was drafted by Royals, made his big league debut with club

Back to the start: Affeldt comes full circle

So much has happened for Jeremy Affeldt since he landed in San Francisco, it's as though his days of being signed, developed and brought to the Major Leagues by the Royals are a whole different career. And in a way, they are. It has been more than eight years since a trade from Kansas City sent his baseball life on a new path, and now Affeldt is headed to a third World Series in five seasons with the Giants, and his fourth overall since leaving the Royals.

That Affeldt is traveling to Kansas City with the Giants for Game 1 of the 2014 World Series (4:30 p.m. PT air time on FOX, 5:07 p.m. PT first pitch) is nothing short of a full-circle experience for the 35-year-old reliever. The veteran lefty looks back on his Royals tenure with fondness in many ways, but painful moments from several injury-plagued years linger in his mind, too.

More

"I had a lot of pain going on there, too -- some injuries, some weird injuries -- but I also had some frustrations," said Affeldt, who battled chronic blister issues and other injuries, never quite finding a foothold in starting or relief for the Royals. "I had some feelings of wanting to quit and not play baseball anymore. I have a lot of emotions that go on in that city from playing there.

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

"That being said, they were the team that gave me my first shot in the big leagues at a very, very young age and allowed me to start my journey as a Major League athlete."

Affeldt, a third-round pick in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft out of Northwest Christian High School in Spokane, Wash., was 22 years old when he arrived with the Royals on the 2002 Opening Day roster, and he had just turned 27 when Kansas City dealt him to the Rockies in a Trade Deadline deal in 2006 -- one of the first big deals made by current Royals general manager Dayton Moore, hired only a couple of months earlier.

Affeldt's final numbers with the Royals reveal his relatively rocky journey there: 17-22, a 4.77 ERA in 42 starts, 142 relief appearances with 17 saves. He made five trips to the disabled list over four seasons, totaling more than 180 days -- or about the equivalent of a full season -- first with the blisters, then oblique and groin injuries.

Fully in relief mode ever since, Affeldt went to the World Series with Colorado in 2007 before heading to Cincinnati for a year and finally signing a free-agent contract with San Francisco prior to the 2009 season. Since joining the Giants, he has been part of a core of relievers that has remained intact through what has become three runs to the World Series.

Affeldt isn't the only uniformed member of the Giants who played in Kansas City. Outfielder Gregor Blanco spent part of 2010 with the Royals and was in their Minor League system to start '11, and Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner spent the 1993 season with Kansas City during his 13-year pitching career.

Affeldt on Giants' NLCS win

Affeldt counts Mike Sweeney, the former Royals star who is now a member of the team's front office, and third-base coach Mike Jirschele among his close friends, crediting Jirschele for helping shape him into who he is today. Having lived in Kansas City for his formative years as not only a Major Leaguer but as an adult, Affeldt certainly has a sense for how much that city is bursting with joy.

"I have a high respect for that team. I have a high respect for the people that live in that city," Affeldt said. "I have a high respect for Dayton Moore, the GM who traded me to give me a fresh start. I'm obviously happy for him and the success they've had over there."

The painful memories, the struggles that became part of his Major League upbringing, they're in the past now. Affeldt has gone on to find a niche on a World Series powerhouse club, and he has expanded on some of the efforts he began in Kansas City that go beyond the field. Through his youth ministry, Generation Alive, Affeldt supports Not For Sale, an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, and he strives to help the hungry, thirsty and disadvantaged by partnering with organizations such as Something to Eat, the Global Orphan Project, Living Water International and One World Futbol. He has written a book and is working on another.

Yes, so very much has happened since Affeldt moved on from Kansas City, the place where he spent his formative big league years. For a man who admittedly wears his emotions on his sleeve, pregame introductions for Game 1 could be interesting.

"There's a lot of good. There's some bad. There's a mix of emotions going there," Affeldt said. "But I'm very happy to go back there. Obviously, I hope the end is better than the beginning for me this time around."

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Looking at SF and KC's head-to-head record

|
Looking at SF and KC's head-to-head record

With the Royals and the Giants facing off in the World Series, one might be wonder what, if anything, we can learn from the two teams' previous meetings on the diamond. Yes, the two are regular Spring Training counterparts, but what about real, full-speed games? It turns out, there's not a lot to go on.

Before interleague play began in the 1997 season, the Royals and Giants had never played in a Major League game. In fact, the two clubs didn't face off for the first time until 2003 -- six years after the AL and NL began their regular season battles,

Continue Reading on Cut4

Behind MadBum, Giants to utilize same rotation

Ace lefty to be followed by Peavy, Hudson, Vogelsong in World Series vs. Royals

Behind MadBum, Giants to utilize same rotation

SAN FRANCISCO -- Having stuck with one pitching rotation in the Giants' first two postseason series, manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that he'll maintain his current sequence of starters for the World Series beginning Tuesday in Kansas City (4:30 p.m. PT airtime, 5:07 first pitch).

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner, the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series against St. Louis, will start Tuesday's opener on his regular four days' rest. He'll be followed by Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson -- who'll pitch Game 3, the first one at AT&T Park -- and Ryan Vogelsong.

More

  Date Air time First pitch Matchup Network
Gm 1 Oct. 21 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 2 Oct. 22 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 3 Oct. 24 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 4 Oct. 25 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 5* Oct. 26 7:30 ET 8:07 ET KC vs. SF FOX
Gm 6* Oct. 28 7 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX
Gm 7* Oct. 29 7:30 ET 8:07 ET SF vs. KC FOX

In 10 postseason games, Giants starters have recorded a 2.40 ERA while limiting opponents to a 0.99 WHIP and a .207 batting average.

Though Bochy didn't say so, Bumgarner almost surely would return for Game 5 at AT&T Park next on Oct. 26, if it's necessary.

Asked whether he considered moving Yusmeiro Petit into the rotation, Bochy pointed out that the right-hander is so valuable in his current role that moving him out of it seems risky.

"He's a great swingman," Bochy said of Petit, who pitched six shutout innings in Game 2 of the NL Division Series at Washington before working three more scoreless innings against St. Louis in Game 4 of the NLCS.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less

Whose celeb fans are funnier: Royals or Giants?

|
Whose celeb fans are funnier: Royals or Giants?

It's no wonder that the baseball world is set to watch the Royals and Giants in the 2014 Fall Classic with all of the steals and postseason home runs and stellar pitching from guys like Big Game James Shields and Madison Bumgarner.

Continue Reading on Cut4