Giants Are Close To Winning The World Series — But It May Not Be That Easy
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
The San Francisco Giants need one more win over the Kansas City Royals to clinch their third World Series championship in the past five years. Sure, sounds simple, but history says otherwise. NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins me now from Kansas City - site of tonight's game six. Heya, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Melissa.
BLOCK: And, Tom, the Giants lead three games to two. The Royals are facing elimination, but you say not so fast. What's working in Kansas City's favor tonight?
GOLDMAN: Well, the series is returning to an American League ballpark and that means teams will use their designated hitters again. And Kansas City definitely likes that because the Royals' designated hitter, Billy Butler, is an important part of the team's offense. The first two games in Kansas City, he went 3-for-6 from the plate and drove in two runs. The history you mentioned, Melissa, since 1982, 10 teams have trailed three games to two in the World Series, heading back to their home ballpark for game six. And if they can win that, game seven. That's the situation Kansas City's in. Now, eight of those 10 teams won game six and seven and the series at their home stadium.
BLOCK: Woah, 80 percent. So the statistics of a historical record are on their side. But what's working against the Kansas City Royals tonight?
GOLDMAN: MadBum is not gone. The Giants' left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgarner, of course, has been masterful in this World Series after he pitched the complete-game shutout Sunday, limiting Kansas City to four hits. The Royals thought they were through with him until, possibly, game seven tomorrow when San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner might do some relief pitching. But now, Bumgarner is saying he could come in tonight if needed. Also Kansas City's vaunted bullpen might suddenly be vulnerable. In Sunday's game, Kelvin Herrera gave up several hits. And then Wade Davis, who's considered the best of the trio that normally shuts down opponents at the end of games, Davis gave up three runs. Now, Ned Yost, the Kansas City manager, says the plan is still to try to take a lead into the seventh inning and have the big three work their magic. But, at least in the Giants' eyes, those relievers are less magic today because of what happened Sunday.
BLOCK: Tom, if we think back to before the series, the Royals were on a roll. They won eight games in a row. What have the Giants been able to do to take away their mojo - to clip their wings?
GOLDMAN: Well, the Giants have been on a roll of their own. It started in the bottom of the third inning in game four. The Royals led 4-to-1. They were up two games to one, and things were looking pretty good. But since that inning, the Giants have outscored Kansas City 15 to nothing. And they're now up three games to two. Great clutch hitting and pitching in that game four. Reliever Yusmeiro Petit played a key role. And then, of course, Bumgarner was just so dominating in Sunday's game five. You've got to think that experience has helped the Giants, especially when they were down in that game four. When they won the World Series two years ago, and a lot of these guys were part of that team, they survived six elimination games. It's a team that knows what to do when the pressure's greatest.
BLOCK: Tom, there was one of the most dramatic moments of the series during game five on Sunday, and it was a moment heightened because of some tragic news that was learned during the game.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, word got out during the game about the car accident in the Dominican Republic that killed St. Louis Cards' Oscar Taveras - just 22 years old - and his 18-year-old girlfriend. He was a rising star. The Cardinals figured he was going to be an integral part of that team for years. Now, baseball fans had just seen him play in the National League Championship Series a couple of weeks earlier. He hit a big home run against the Giants. Juan Perez, of the Giants, was a close friend. He found out during the game about the accident. He was obviously stunned. A Giants coach found Perez in the clubhouse crying. But Perez came out and was still able to perform. He got a huge hit off Wade Davis, drove in a couple of runs then scored a run himself. We talked with him afterwards. His eyes were red from crying. He was - very emotional moment, and quite a performance by Perez, considering that.
BLOCK: OK. NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. He was speaking with us from Kansas City - site of game six of the World Series. Tom, thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Melissa.
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