(USA Today)

SAN FRANCISCO — After the Giants lost Game 3 of the World Series, Hunter Pence sat in the chair in front of his locker for a good while, looking like he was somewhere between distraught and deep in thought.

"We got to come out hungry," Pence said when he was ready to talk to reporters. "This should make you better. We gotta come out with our lives on the line, playing as hard as we can."

What Pence said after Game 3 is exactly what he did in Game 4, and he propelled the Giants to a 11-4 win that evened their series with the Kansas City Royals. The game wasn't always as lopsided as the score suggests. The Giants were down 4-1, rebounded to tie the game in the fifth, went ahead in the sixth then piled on in the seventh.

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Pence's contributions were many — he legged out a grounder to third base that looked like an inning-ending double play in the first. Gregor Blanco scurried home from third for the Giants' first run, but it wouldn't have happened without Pence's speed.

He singled in the third and fifth innings, the second one brought him a run to put the Giants within one. In the sixth, with the bases loaded and one out, Pence grounded to shortstop. Alcides Escobar chose to throw home instead of trying for a double play. Pence beating out the earlier double-play attempt was on the Royals' mind and that paid dividends when Pablo Sandoval followed with a two-run single.

Pence doubled in the seventh, plating the Giants' 11th run. He then made a great catch in right field for the second out of the ninth inning. At the plate, Pence finished the night 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, accounting for almost half of the Giants' runs.

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"When it was my turn to hit, I was just trying to be as free, as convicted and as determined as I could to compete," Pence said after the game. "I was very fortunate to have all those opportunities and that many base runners. It felt like there were boatloads of base runners for me there tonight and that's a lot of fun as a hitter."

Part of that was because of the Giants' overall offensive production. They had 16 hits from 11 different guys, the first team to do that in the postseason since the 1960 Yankees. Even relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit had a hit. That sounds exactly like what Pence was talking about after Game 3. Their loss made them better. They came out hungry.

"We came into this game asking everyone to come in attacking, going all out for each other," Pence said. "Eleven different guys recorded a hit tonight, and not only that, but Yusmeiro Petit. To me [he] is the most unsung hero of our team this whole season, especially in the postseason. What he's done is nothing short of amazing. I think that's what gives me chills right now, just to be a part of that."

Chills. That's better than being distraught.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 26, 2014, 7:02 am

The "Big Game James" nickname is one James Shields earned well before he stepped on a major league mound, and according to legend actually had nothing to do with his pitching prowess. As the story goes, Shields was a big fan of the original "Big Game James," Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy, and since they shared the first name his high school friends basically stuck it on him, and somewhere along the line he just forgot to remove it.

Over 15 years later, the nickname is as firmly attached as it ever was. Only now, given the line of work he finds himself in, it's amplified and serves as the basis, fairly or unfairly, for how his performance is jjudged.

With the unquestioned biggest start of his professional career looming on Sunday night in San Francisco, the Kansas City Royals desperately need Shields to claim ownership of that moniker, if only for one night.

With the Royals and San Francisco Giants tied at two wins apiece in the World Series, manager Ned Yost will turn to Shields in a pivotal Game 5, on the road, at crazy loud AT&T Park, against MLB's top pitcher in the postseason, Madison Bumgarner, and against a resilient Giants team that's won two of the last four Series championships.

Oh, and if that set up wasn't a difficult enough assignment for essentially every hurler in the game, also consider the 29 years of disappointment and frustration that has built up in Kansas City, that only two more victories in this Series can relieve.

The weight of the world, or at least Kansas City's baseball world, will indeed be on his shoulders, and to overcome San Francisco, he'll need to step his game up several notches from what we've seen this postseason and historically during his career in October.

After delivering another solid regular season — he went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA during and easily topped 200 innings (227) for the eighth straight season — the 32-year-old right-hander has looked like anything but an ace or workhorse, posting a 7.11 ERA over 19 innings in four postseason starts. That includes a three-inning outing in Kansas City's 7-1 Game 1 loss to San Francisco, in which he allowed five earned runs. 

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For his career, Shields has posted a 5.74 ERA in 10 postseason starts covering 53 1/3 innings.

There's just something about actual big games and James Shields that haven't mixed historically, but he has a chance to stem the tide and rewrite his own history on Sunday. For what it's worth, Shields' manager is confident he'll be in the right frame of mind, which is always a good place to start.

"I've seen him pitch for 65 starts or so. I know what type of pitcher he is, one," Yost said prior to Game 4. "And I've got confidence in everybody on my staff."

"We talked about Alex Gordon going 0‑for‑15. Did I lose confidence in Alex because he was 0‑for‑15? Absolutely not. Stepped up and got a big hit for us. It's the same thing with James Shields. I know his intensity. I know his work ethic. I know his competitiveness. I know that as much as a lot of you guys think that these guys are light's out perfect every time they go out there, they're not. They're human beings. They make adjustments and they have good games and they have bad games."

A more relaxed James Shields prior to Game 3. (USA TODAY Sports)"But I know tomorrow when he steps on that mound, he's going to be ready both physically and mentally to compete and give us his best effort, and that's all I can ask."

Shields himself anticipates being in a better place mentally and more even-keeled than he was in Game 1.

"Yeah, it's just kind of one of those things as a baseball player you've got to really hone in. I've been on this stage before, and I know exactly what to feel like when I'm out there, and I think this time around I'm not going to be as amped up and just try to keep my emotions in check."

It's one thing to say it. It's quite another to believe the next outing will be different.

"Yeah, obviously, the last couple starts is not the way I wanted to end up," Shields said on Saturday. "But sometimes those things happen, and unfortunately it's right now. But me and [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland] had a really good bullpen session this last round. You know, I was just kind of rushing, rushing to the plate. Ball was getting flat, really flying open. Really just not getting the job done, bottom line. 

And most difficult of all is pulling everything together on the game's biggest stage against a team that seemingly can do wrong when it needs to win in October.

It's the ultimate test that awaits him, but on the other side is the ultimate redemption and satisfaction should Shields finally morph into "Big Game James."

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 26, 2014, 6:11 am

SAN FRANCISCO — This time, it was the San Francisco Giants' turn to strike in the sixth inning.

After the Kansas City Royals won Games 2 and 3 of the World Series thanks to sixth-inning rallies, the Giants broke a 4-4 tie in Game 4 with a three-run rally that paved the way for their 11-4 comeback win.

At the center of it was perpetual postseason hero Pablo Sandoval, whose two-out bases loaded single unknotted the game. He had two hits on the night, raising his career postseason batting average to .326 and giving him 20 RBIs.

To add even more to his postseason lure: Sandoval shook off the flu. He was sick Friday, got IV treatment Saturday and didn't take infield practice.

"I was going to play no matter what," Sandoval said after the game.

Call this his "flu game." It wasn't as individually dominant as Michael Jordan's famous flu game in the 1997 NBA Finals, but it sure was important for the Giants. They had fallen behind 4-1 in the third inning and rallied to tie the game in the fifth.

The win evens the World Series at two games apiece, giving the Giants a chance to go ahead 3-2 in Game 5 with ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound. That's a far better situation than going home Saturday night down 3-1.

Both of Sandoval's hits came from the right side too. He only hit .199/.244/.319 right-hander in the regular season, so this performance was even more impressive.

(USA TODAY Sports)

"He really came through and delivered for us in a big way," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was good to see him swing the bat the way he is from that side … I was a little concerned about him maybe being a little washed out today. He goes out there and has a great game for us. He seems to rise to the occasion when you need him."

Sandoval certainly had the energy to celebrate his hit once he landed on first base, waving his arms in excitement.

"Clutch hitter," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "What are you going to say about that? … Won the ballgame for them"

Yost could have said he wished Sandoval were too sick to play, though it didn't sound like much was going to prevent him from taking the field.

"I was going to be out there," a smiling Sandoval said.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 26, 2014, 6:05 am
'I ain't conceding nothing'

The San Francisco Giants rolled to an 11-4 victory against the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night. They evened the Series at a game apiece and ensured the Fall Classic will return to Kauffman Stadium for a Game 6, at least.

Not that Royals manager Ned Yost isn't glancing even deeper into the future:

 

Ned Yost: "Somewhere inside of me, secretly I had hoped it would go seven games for the excitement and thrill of it." Ned Forever.

— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) October 26, 2014

 

Just so we're all clear on how the best-of-seven Series works, the Royals and Giants are tied at 2-all. The Royals could win the Series in six games, if they win the next two. And yet, Yost is musing about the exciting and thrilling possibility of a Game 7. Does that mean he's ceding Game 5 to the Giants, who are pitching ace Madison Bumgarner. If the Giants win on Sunday night, Ned's team definitely will need Game 7 to win a championship, which apparently is how he wants it to happen.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed a thought that was similar, if not identical, about the Series going seven games:

"The way these two teams go at it, it wouldn't surprise me," Bochy said. Much more politically correct. And no direct ceding of Games 5 or 6.

On a related matter, a reporter asked Yost if he was "conceding victory" by not using his top three relievers in Game 4, particularly when the Royals trailed 6-4 in the sixth inning.

'You kiddin'?'

 

"No, I wasn't conceding nothing, but I wasn't going to put my boys in that ballgame, either, down two," Yost said.


Ned Yost: Not conceding on a detail — not conceding nothing —  except that he'd like the Series to go seven games. When his team could win it in six.

To Ned! To the Yostseason!

Here's video of the relevant press conference; the bit about the Series going seven games comes near the end:

 

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 26, 2014, 5:31 am

 

 

Trailing by three runs in the third inning Saturday night, and facing a three-games-to-one deficit in the World Series unless a turnaround happened, the San Francisco Giants made one happen in Game 4.

They started to chip away, and by the end they were clawing at the Kansas City Royals, scoring 10 unanswered runs in an 11-4 victory at AT&T Park that evened the best-of-seven Series at two wins apiece.

The Giants pounded 16 hits, getting key contributions from all of their one-through-five hitters, along with three hits, a walk and two runs scored from the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Pablo Sandoval's two-run single in the sixth put the Giants ahead to stay.

At one point:

The top five hitters in the Giants' lineup tonight are 10 for 21 with three walks, two strikeouts, eight runs and eight RBIs.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 26, 2014

Here are the top five moments from Game 4:

THE LAST OUT

(USA TODAY)

If the Giants had gotten down 3-1 in the Series, they would have been facing tough odds. Of the 45 times a team has gotten a 3-1 Series lead, only six times has the other team come back to win.

PABLO SANDOVAL COMES THROUGH RIGHT-HANDED
Victory might have seemed inevitable when you win by seven runs, but the Giants needed someone to come through with a big hit in the sixth inning after the go-ahead run had been cut down at the plate. After Hunter Pence grounded to short with the bases loaded, and Alcides Escobar fired home for the force, the Royals were one out away from getting to the seventh all tied.

Sandoval, a .199/.244/.319 hitter against left-handed pitchers in the regular season, got two hits against lefties in Game 4, including a two-run single against Brandon Finnegan that gave the Giants a lead they didn't relinquish.

ESCOBAR THROWS HOME FOR FORCE INSTEAD OF GOING FOR DOUBLE PLAY

Ned Yost wanted to avoid pitching to Buster Posey in the sixth, so he walked him with one out to load the bases for Hunter Pence. It was a curious choice, because:

Royals intentionally walking Buster Posey to load the bases for Hunter Pence, who's 6 for 13 this World Series.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 26, 2014

It appeared to work out when Pence hit a sharp grounder to short, but with the infield playing tight and not at double-play depth, a 6-4-3 attempt would have been awkward for Alcides Escobar, who instead went home for the sure out. Yost wanted to have his cake and eat it too, because just pitching to Posey with the infield in would have made no less sense than walking him and playing the defense close anyway. It didn't work out, after all. But was it a mistake?

YUSMEIRO PETIT STOPS THE BLEEDING

(AP)

Starter Ryan Vogelsong was ineffective and Jean Machi's appearance out of the bullpen was brief, so the emergence of Yusmeiro Petit, who allowed two hits over three scoreless innings, certainly helped the Giants put some space between themselves and the Royals. The entire Giants bullpen came through with 6⅓ scoreless frames, allowing five hits and a walk.

Along those lines, check out this 76 mph curveball by Jeremy Affeldt:

Petit also became the first relief pitcher since 1993 (Al Leiter) to get a hit in the Series:

Your browser does not support iframeNO PANIC JOE PANIK

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Any other number of key moments could have made the top five, but rookie Joe Panik's leadoff double in the sixth pushed Jason Vargas from the game and put a less-effective part of Kansas City's bullpen — middle relief — into the picture. The Giants scored twice that inning to tie, and used the moment as a launching pad to blow the Royals out. Panik had two hits, a sacrifice bunt and two RBIs on the night.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 26, 2014, 4:31 am

Jason Vargas took what could have been an embarrassing moment in Game 4 of the World Series and transformed it into a slightly less embarrassing moment that was pretty darned funny for anyone with a chuckle gene. This is what happens, sometimes, when an American League pitcher tries to bat.

In the top of the third inning Saturday night, Vargas put together two impressive at-bats against the San Francisco Giants, including one that would have been much more impressive if the rules said it takes only three balls to draw a walk. After the Royals scored four runs to take a 4-1 lead, Vargas came within a blink of drawing a bases-loaded walk to force in another run.

Too bad for Vargas that home plate umpire Ted Barrett — and everyone else paying full attention — didn't blink. Vargas took a 2-2 pitch from Jean Machi that missed, and he dropped his bat and started toward first. As soon as Vargas looked up, he realized his accounting mistake, put his arms out like he was under arrest and froze like a criminal from the old "Batman" TV show.

(USA Today)

Or perhaps Vargas was creating America's latest dance craze — Vargnam Style.

Vargas thought he'd get the last laugh after the next pitch, a borderline call that went Machi's way for strike three, but looked dubious live. It was the Giants turn to laugh, or at least exhale. 

Leading off the inning, Vargas dragged right-hander Ryan Vogelsong along for eight pitches until he flied out to center. He acquitted himself well for someone with zero at-bats over the past two seasons. But he is a .262 career hitter in 66 plate appearances with other teams, including some National League time. So he knows what he's doing out there. Until he doesn't.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 26, 2014, 3:20 am

(AP)SAN FRANCISCO — The Mo'ne Davis world tour is still going and it zoomed into AT&T Park on Saturday. She threw out the first pitch before World Series Game 3 — a strike, of course — and met plenty of big leaguers.

It was two stars from the past, however, that Davis said she was most thrilled to meet.

"Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson," she said, a few minutes after watching the Royals score four runs in the third inning while eating an ice cream sundae.

America, this girl is living the life. Since becoming a national star in the Little League World Series, where she became the first girl to throw a shutout, Davis has made the cover of Sports Illustrated, appeared on late-night TV talk shows, thrown out first pitches and most recently starred in a Spike Lee-directed commercial.

Baseball, though, is still No. 1 on her list.

"Just to be at the World Series is pretty cool," she said. "If I didn't throw a strike, I don't know what I would do. Just throwing a strike was probably the best part."

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She even threw it from the mound, which doesn't usually happen during ceremonial first pitches. She earned kudos from Aaron, the great home-run hitter who certainly had seen some great pitchers in his day. He was honoring Giancarlo Stanton on the field as the NL winner of the Hank Aaron Award just a few minutes before Davis' first pitch.

"He was just telling me he saw me throwing," Davis said, "and it's pretty impressive how hard I throw."

Remember, though, Davis was born in 2001. So as a baseball fan from the Philadelphia area, even Hank Aaron can't compete with her favorite Phillie.

"I got to talk to Chase Utley on the phone," Davis said. "So I think that tops it all. "

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 26, 2014, 2:55 am
(AP)

 

Failure to turn a double play, to cover first base properly on a grounder, and to change out starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong more swiftly proved costly for the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the World Series. The Kansas City Royals, using good plate discipline and some well-placed hits, scored four times in the third inning to take a lead.

The Royals lead 4-2 in the fifth inning, and they already lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

The key moment might have been an RBI infield single by Eric Hosmer, a tap that went into no-man's land near first base. Vogelsong didn't try to field the ball, and he didn't get to the bag in time for what should have been the third out of the inning. Instead, with the frame extended, Vogelsong walked Mike Moustakas to load the bases and allowed a two-run single by Omar Infante.

With Jean Machi warming up in the bullpen — but also the pitcher's spot in the batting order coming up for the Giants in the next half-inning, Giants manager Bruce Bochy stuck with Vogelsong. Salvador Perez followed with another RBI single, giving Kansas City a 4-1 lead.

Machi entered, walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases and nearly walked Vargas — at least in Vargas's mind. He thought ball three was ball four.

 

that's ball three, dude ... https://t.co/oEUJOd5dDz

— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) October 26, 2014

 

When the Royals mess up, it's funny. When the Giants mess up, it's costly.

Two other plate appearances in the third seemed to be important:

• To lead off the inning, Vargas had a tougher-than-expected eight-pitch at-bat that ended with a fly ball to center. Vogelsong had to work much harder than you might expect against an American League pitcher at the plate.

• After Alcides Escobar followed with a single, Gordon hit a grounder to Brandon Belt than might have been a 3-6-3 double play if the Giants had executed with maximum efficiency. But Belt didn't deliver immediately to Brandon Crawford, and threw high to take him off the second-base bag. Crawford's relay wasn't close.

(AP)

 

Lorenzo Cain followed by beating out an infield single — though he appeared to injure his left leg stretching to beat the throw. Cain's hustle was another case of the Royals keeping the heat on an opponent that couldn't make a close play.

Buster Posey came through with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the third to bring the Giants within 4-2 — which was huge, because the Giants needed to burn Machi in the third inning, along with pinch hitter Matt Duffy, to make the run happen.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 26, 2014, 2:07 am

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants have already brought out Barry Bonds and WWE star Daniel Bryan for their postseason pregame festivities, but they gave their best show yet before Game 4 of the World Series.

You couldn't help but root for both of the stars.

There was Mo'Ne Davis, the 13-year-old pitcher who became the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series. She threw out the first pitch. Then there was Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was severely injured on opening day 2011 at Dodger Stadium. He did the Giants' "Play Ball!" chant. 

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Davis threw her first pitch from the pitcher's mound, something most ceremonial first-pitch throwers don't do. She fired a strike right across the plate, while the Little League World Series' other stars, the kids from Chicago's Jackie Robinson West, looked on.

After lineup introductions, the Giants gave a microphone to Stow, who sat in his wheelchair on the field. He attended the 2012 World Series too, but was in much worse condition.

"Welcome to the Kansas City Royals and your San Francisco Giants," Stow said, he then let out a "Wooooo!" and called AT&T Park a "house of champions." When he shouted "Play Ball!" he let out a huge grin and the crowd erupted. 

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In a statement through the Giants, Ann Stow, his mother, said: 

“We are so thrilled to be here tonight. This is the first World Series game that Bryan will be able to remember since his accident. He is so appreciative of all the support Giants’ fans have shown him throughout this journey. He feels like he is part of the team.” 

The Game 4 pregame had other great moments too: Carlos Santana (the musician, not the Cleveland Indian) played the national anthem on his guitar. Giancarlo Stanton accepted the Hank Aaron Award on the field with Aaron himself. Mike Trout won the AL Hank Aaron Award, which goes to the best hitter. He wasn't, however, present to accept the award.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 26, 2014, 12:52 am

Can the Kansas City Royals take a commanding 3-1 series lead and move closer to their first World Series win in 29 years? Will the San Francisco Giants rebound from a one-run Game 3 loss and even the series again? 

The fourth game of the 2014 World Series is upon us, pitting Jason Vargas against Ryan Vogelsong in a game that could very well swing either way. Whichever way that is, the Yahoo Sports MLB crew — columnists Tim Brown and Jeff Passan, plus the bloggers from Big League Stew — will be serving up commentary from start to finish.

Use this handy Twitter tracker to follow the game with live commentary from our writers and other MLB experts.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 11:43 pm

You're never too young to love baseball. Just ask five-year-old Kelsey Aciego of Raymore, Mo. She loves her American League champion Kansas City Royals so much, she can not only name every player on their roster, but she can match each player to his jersey number.

Need proof?

No problem. Kelsey's mom, Rebecca Aciego, recently posted a video showcasing her Royals love and knowledge.

With little to no hesitation even, she rattled off every Royal in less than two minutes.

That's very impressive, especially considering Josh Willingham only joined the team on Aug. 11 in a trade with the Minnesota Twins, and hasn't played a major role since coming over. She knows who he is. And of course she couldn't let mom forget Terrance Gore. Good old No. 0 may only have two career plate appearances to his credit, but he's starred as a pinch-runner in September and October, and Kelsey has taken notice. 

Perhaps a job as public address announcer at Kauffman Stadium is in her future. Her long-term future that is. For now, Kelsey, like every other fan of the Royals, is focused on the short term. Two more wins in the World Series and she'll be able to celebrate as all of her favorite Royals are introduced one-by-one — and number-by-number — at a championship rally that was 29 years in the making. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 25, 2014, 11:06 pm
Vogelsong's Super Duper Burger of choice, with jalapenos and grilled onions. (photo by Declan McKerr)

SAN FRANCISCO — After the Giants' lost Game 3 of the World Series and confirmed they'd be sending Ryan Vogelsong to the mound in Saturday's Game 4, Sandra Young knew where she needed to go: Super Duper Burger

This wasn't an "eat your feelings" moment, it was Young keeping up a tradition that Giants fans have been indulging in since their last World Series run. They eat for Vogelsong. The Giants pitcher eats the same meal the night before his starts and fans copy him.

It used to be Rally Enchiladas. Then it was Rally Spaghetti for a short time. Now, it's Rally Burgers, specifically from Super Duper Burger, a San Francisco-based chain that uses locally sourced ingredients and has seven locations in the Bay Area. Vogelsong told For The Win's Ted Berg during the National League Championship Series that Super Duper Burger had become his new pre-start meal. Vogelsong later confirmed it to MLB Network too, further spreading the Super Duper Burger word around S.F. 

“It was spaghetti for a while, but I ditched that, too,” Vogelsong told For The Win. “What’s on my Super Duper Burger? Jalapenos, grilled onions, and their sauce they put on there. That’s it.”

That sent Giants fan Young, her son Cal and his fiancée Amy to Super Duper Burger for the first time Friday night. Cal copied Vogelsong's order exactly.

"Once we learned he was on to Super Duper Burgers, we made it a point to go last night after the game," Young said.

They ate Rally Enchiladas in 2012, and even in this year's divisional series before the world found out about Vogelsong's shift to burgers. Does she think it works?

"When he wins, it helps," she says with a laugh. "No, it's just for fun. My son and I are so into Giants baseball, and his fiancée now too. It's just another fun thing we can do together."

They certainly aren't the only ones — Giants fans are heading into Super Duper Burger in the hours before Game 4. Others are eating their own burgers and spreading the #RallyBurger/#RallyBurgers hashtag.

Eating #superduper in solidarity with #ryanvogelsong #rallyburger #rallyvogey @nicolevogelsong pic.twitter.com/eFPGdLulj5

— Kelsey Rugani (@kelseyrugani) October 25, 2014

Aforementioned #RallyBurger #RallyVogey #SFGiants @nicolevogelsong http://t.co/dgaX9K5ZSm

— deBASHmode (@deBASHmode) October 25, 2014

First time at Super Duper for Vogey. #RallyBurgers #RallyEnchiladas #VogelStrong pic.twitter.com/m1NVJquCqq

— Melissa (@ModernMelissa) October 25, 2014

Super Duper Burger, meanwhile, is loving both the attention and "helping" the Giants.

"We are so excited to be Vogelsong's go-to burger," said Super Duper Burger owner Adriano Paganini. "As a local business, we're all about supporting the home team and providing them with delicious burgers."

Added operations manager Ed Onas: "We're really starting to see this catch on. People are ordering Vogelsong's pre-game RallyBurger in solidarity. Hope we don't run out of jalapeños, grill onions and Super Sauce today."

On the long list of superstitions sports fans use to help their teams win, eating burgers might just be the tastiest. You lucked out, Giants fans.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 10:15 pm

Baby Ali with the Hetherington's Game 1 tickets. (KCTV 5 in Kansas City)Attending a World Series game can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many fans, unless of course you are Marlins Man.

When that rare opportunity comes, it's one you don't want to let pass by if you can help it. In the case of Royals fans Stephanie and Jason Hetherington, that even meant tempting fate and attending Game 1 knowing the due date for their third child was a week away, and that the moment  of truth could arrive at any time.

“Hopefully she stays in there long enough for us to enjoy the game,” was Stephanie's thought leading up to Tuesday's game at Kauffman Stadium.

Of course, the baby had other plans for the World Series, and they didn't involve sitting at the K for nine innings. As the couple gathered their pregame snacks, Stephanie realized that her water broke and the baby's estimated time of arrival had just dramatically changed.

However, once again considering how rare the opportunity was to attend and experience a World Series game, Stephanie contemplated sticking around at least for a few innings before heading to the hospital.

From KCTV-5: 

"I thought I would just labor at the game for a while because I wasn't really contracting you know? My water just broke,” Stephanie Hetherington said.

But her daughter convinced her to head for the exits.

“I found an usher at the K and said, 'My wife's going into labor can we get a ride to our car?' I think I kind of freaked her out, and I was like ‘No, she's not going to have it here,'" Jason Hetherington said.

The couple's car was parked outside Arrowhead Stadium, which sits parallel and shares parking space with Kauffman Stadium. Still, it's a pretty good jaunt across the parking lot, but the couple made it with some assistance from University of Kansas medical staff on hand. After getting to their car, they drove to Liberty Hospital where they watched the entire game from the delivery room.

Their third daughter, Ali Frances, was born just before midnight, about an hour after the Royals dropped Game 1 by a 7-1 count to the San Francisco Giants. She weighed 7 pounds and 8 ounces.

The Hetherington's were very thankful for the assistance they received at the ballpark and the accommodations at the hospital. It helped turned a potentially chaotic and stressful situation into a smooth delivery. The only thing that really didn't go their way was Kansas City dropping the opener. However, the Royals have bounced back to win the next two games after Ali was born, so maybe her timing wasn't so bad after all. 

BLS H/N: Cut 4

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 25, 2014, 8:04 pm

Despite the World Series scene shifting to San Francisco on Friday, the now famous Marlins Man, aka Laurence Leavy, was seated front and almost center for Game 3 at AT&T Park.

Leavy was a little more difficult to spot as his bright orange Miami Marlins jacket and Marlins visor blended in with the San Francisco Giants orange being worn by fans around him. Still, once he was spotted, that's where our attention went as we once again pondered how he was able to land those second row seats.

At least those were our thoughts in the early innings. As we panned those same seats in the eighth inning, we noticed that Marlins Man was missing from his spot, but another familiar face had taken his place. As we quickly figured out, that was Steven Powell of the U.S. Navy, who just moments earlier performed a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” despite audio issues at AT&T Park.

It was no accident that Powell ended up in that exact seat, of course. It was Leavy's to start, but he happily gave it up so Powell could enjoy the final two innings from behind home plate. 

We had a GREAT TIME ladt night. Thats what life is about. And.... paying it forward every single day pic.twitter.com/yyC0TS4zB0

— Marlins Man (@Marlins_Man) October 25, 2014

No. Giants not make me move. Gave up my First Class VIP seat to soldier. Do it all the time on planes. I am grateful for their service

— Marlins Man (@Marlins_Man) October 25, 2014

A first class gesture by a first class seat holder.

(SB Nation screen grab)
Of course, it sounds like Leavy had yet another connection somewhere in AT&T Park. 

Only Marlins Man could give up his regular awesome seat to a veteran...then somehow find an even better seat.

— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) October 25, 2014

We're not exactly sure where that seat was, but maybe Huey Lewis had some good news. 

Huey Lewis. No news pic.twitter.com/tATiw68B7J

— Marlins Man (@Marlins_Man) October 25, 2014

That, or the Giants simply hooked him up for doing a kind deed. Either way, it was a cool move by the man who at first probably rubbed some fans the wrong way when he showed up at Kauffman Stadium wearing the Marlins' orange, but now deserves a tip of the cap. Or visor even. Whichever works. 

BLS H/N: For The Win

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 25, 2014, 5:58 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — The door is like many at AT&T Park — it's nondescript and it doesn't look like it goes anywhere special. Maybe it's a maintenance closet? 

There's a sign to the right of the door that doesn't make too much sense to the average person. It reads, "Suite B2 Electrical and IDF Rooms." In the middle of the door is a square with two crossed bats and "GC 1883." If you were walking on AT&T Park's suite level and didn't know better, you'd keep on walking.

(Big League Stew)Heck, if you happened to open the door and look, you'd just see a blank grey wall. If you turned your head, though, and looked the other direction, you'd see a host stand and service staff dressed in black, welcoming you to The Gotham Club.

It's hidden in plain sight, but behind that door is a VIP experience unlike any other in MLB. All baseball eyes are on AT&T Park this weekend with the Giants hosting the World Series, but people watching at home won't know this even exists. It's a sort of baseball country club for diehard San Francisco Giants fans who shell out a nice chunk of change for a members-only pre- and post-game hangout space. There's nothing else like this in MLB, Gotham Club reps say.

They call this The Game Room, it's part of The Gotham Club experience, with a two-lane bowling alley, a pool table, vintage arcade games, a bar, black-and-white baseball photos on the wall and music from 60 years ago. The bowling alley, in true baseball fashion, counts mph on each roll.

There's also The Clubhouse, another part of the Gotham Club. That too is hidden in plain sight. It's behind the out-of-town scoreboard in AT&T's right field. There's a large bar there that looks out into the area Hunter Pence patrols, there's a fancy dining room with a view that overlooks McCovey Cove and there are even more vintage baseball photos and posters.

"This is a hidden gem," says Mike Kremko, watching from a window as the field gets prepared for another day of October baseball.

Because most people don't even know it exists, The Gotham Club has a speakeasy vibe.

"That's exactly what it feels like when we're in here," says Valerie Hill, sitting next to Kremko, with a pair of drinks in front of them.

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The Gotham Club takes it name from Giants' history. They were the New York Gothams from 1883 to 1885 (hence the aforementioned "GC 1883"), before becoming the New York Giants. The club mixes the Giants' New York and San Francisco histories well.

The Game Room, for instance, is inspired by John McGraw and Christy Mathewson. McGraw owned pool halls and bowling alleys in the 1900s, and bowling became popular with his teammates at the time. Mathewson, meanwhile, was a skilled checkers player. The Clubhouse is inspired by the players' clubhouse at The Polo Grounds, which was in the outfield and had windows looking out toward the field.

There's also another source of inspiration: Club 33 at Disneyland, a members-only "secret" club that's in New Orleans Square. When the Giants were trying to do something new, they didn't look around baseball. They looked outside of it. Disney fans have learned a lot more about Club 33 in recent years, but AT&T Park's Gotham Club is still a secret to many. Members, however, love it. So much so that some of the posters and photos in the club are borrowed from members. Recent playoff games have seen as many 600 people filtering through the club. They even show up to watch road games from The Gotham Club.

Two fans were standing in front of one Gotham Club photo wall recently, rewinding through history.

"'Sixty-nine!" one of them exclaimed, referring to the 1969 club, which played in the brand-new-at-the-time NL West.

"Look at Kruk back in the day," the other said, referring to Mike Krukow, the former Giants pitcher and current Giants broadcaster.

(Big League Stew)

There's a wall of baseball bats in The Clubhouse inscribed with members' names — a different version of the commemorative bricks that many stadiums have. Gotham Club membership is limited to 1,000 fans. The Game Room opened this spring. The Clubhouse opened in July. As the Giants ride another successful postseason run into October, there are about 100 Gotham Club spaces left. Once they fill up, there will be a waiting list for new members.

At this point, you're probably wondering what all this costs. New members pay a $2,500 initiation fee and then have annual dues of $1,250-$1,750. That's good for a member and a guest. Five-person and 10-person memberships are available too. Respectively, they have $10,000 and $20,000 initiation fees with $5,000 and $10,000 annual dues. So, it's a lot more expensive than a ballpark beer and a hot dog.

The Gotham Club has other benefits too. Members have a private entrance into the park, meaning fewer lines and no madness on giveaway days. They can watch Giants batting practice either from the Clubhouse or from the right-field warning track. They call that area The Bullpen, the third Gotham Club venue. It has a bar too. If members watch from the field, they get to walk across the field to their seats.

Gary Rossiter, a Giants season-ticket holder and Gotham Club member, says it's a great way to entertain clients for his business. Think they're not impressed by visiting a hush-hush club? But above all, Rossiter says, he values the baseball camaraderie in The Gotham Club.

"There are like-minded souls here," he says. "Good baseball fans."

As such, he says he enjoys being able to get close to the out-of-town scoreboard. He laughs and fiddles with a scoreboard plate sitting near his feet.

"I can change the score if I want," he jokes.

He could make the Dodgers lose whenever he wants.

"That's right," Rossiter laughs. "It's a perfect world."

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 5:26 pm

(AP)SAN FRANCISCO — Somewhere between Kansas City and the Bay Area, Giants slugger Michael Morse got hit with a flu bug.

There were Giants fans who wanted to see Morse — the team's go-to pinch hitter since the National League Championship Series — return to full-time duty in the outfield. The World Series shifting to San Francisco meant he couldn't be the Giants' designated hitter like he was in Games 1 and 2 in Kansas City. His bat, Morse supporters figure, is a necessity against these Royals.

The flu took that option off the table. It wasn't even abundantly clear that Morse would be able to pinch hit in the Giants' 3-2 loss in Game 3. Skipper Bruce Bochy asked Morse earlier in the day if he was well enough to pinch hit.

"I'll give you the best at-bat I can," Morse responded.

His post-flu best certainly helped the Giants. Morse's pinch-hit double brought home Brandon Crawford for the Giants' first run. Then Morse came around to score after two sixth-inning ground outs. That double, by the way, gave Morse more extra-base hits in Game 3 than Buster Posey has the entire postseason.

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Two Giants runs in Game 3, and neither happens without Morse. He has a hit in each game of the World Series after that game-changing pinch-hit homer in the NLCS clincher. Doesn't it make you wonder if Morse should be playing full-time?

If the Giants need an offensive boost — and after a four-hit performance in Game 3, it's hard to argue otherwise — who better than Morse?

If the Giants need to move runners around the bases — and 17 runners stranded in their Game 2 loss says they do — wouldn't you want to have the biggest sticks possible in the lineup?

Morse played exactly one game in September because of an oblique injury, which is what thrust Travis Ishikawa into his no-experience-necessary starting left fielder gig. Morse missed the division series because he didn't have enough recent at-bats. So Morse was sent to Arizona for some grooming, then he joined the Giants when they met the Cardinals.

"I'm good to play," Morse said after Game 3. "I haven't started in a while, but I'm good to play."

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The double Friday night was enough for reporters to ask Bochy about Morse's role moving forward, and if there were a chance we'd see him in left field for Game 4. Morse, a right-hander, has faced Royals' Game 4 starter Jason Vargas, a lefty, more than anyone on the Giants, with four hits and a homer in 13 at-bats.

"I'll sit and think about it," Bochy said, noting that Juan Perez could possibly start in left too. "It's not etched in stone, but again, what Morse has done off the bench, that's valuable too."

Asked how he'd feel if he saw his name as a starter on Saturday's lineup card, Morse said: "It would be fine. [But] I feel like I have a big role right now … My manager is confident in my role right now and I'm confident in him. Whatever he wants me to do, I'm 100 percent [ready] to do it."

It's clear the Giants need somebody to drive in some runs. Against these Royals, you can't wait long to do that. Opponents need to score before the seventh inning, or they'll run into that dominating trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

Morse could be the guy to ignite the offense if he gets three or four at-bats in a game. He's done it off the bench. He's done it with the flu. Maybe it's time he does it as a starter.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 4:47 pm

The Detroit Tigers season ended earlier then they'd hoped and in very disappointing fashion after they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS. Now their offseason is getting off to a pretty rough start too after the team learned that Miguel Cabrera will not be able to resume baseball activities for at least three months following surgery on his right ankle.

Though resurgent in September, Cabrera wasn't his MVP caliber self for most of the second half of the season. His lack of production (three home runs and 16 RBIs from the All-Star break until Sept. 1) can be attributed in part to a bone spur in his right ankle, which was bothersome enough that manager Brad Ausmus considered giving Cabrera multiple days off in late August even after the team had fallen behind the Kansas City Royals in the standings.

The Tigers knew offseason surgery was a distinct possibility, but nobody was anticipating that in addition to the bone spur, doctors would find a stress fracture in the navicular bone on the top of his foot. Doctors were forced to place two screws in his foot to stabilize the fracture, which changed his offseason outlook significantly.

From MLive.com's Chris Iott: 

The Detroit Tigers do not know for sure when Miguel Cabrera will resume baseball activities or play in his first game. They cannot say with 100 percent certainty that he will be ready for the start of spring training or even opening day.

But general manager Dave Dombrowski is certain of one thing: Cabrera showed some extreme toughness by playing through an ankle injury that was significantly worse than it was believed to be.

"He is as tough as you can possibly be," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "They cannot even believe once they went in there and looked at it that he could play with the ankle that he had. It's worse than what we ever would have anticipated."

Cabrera had the operation on Wednesday, so that would set his three-month evaluation for late January. Depending on the news there, he could either begin baseball activities about three weeks ahead of spring training, or be recommended more rest. Either way, his season preparation would be well behind schedule, and more rest could push his full recovery into the regular season. 

The Cabrera waiting game will be an unwanted subplot in an already important offseason for general manager Dave Dombrowski. With Victor Martinez and Max Scherzer likely to test the free agent market and a bullpen that needs an overhaul, Dombrowski has plenty to consider. Any uncertainty over Cabrera's recovery only adds to his plate and could place some urgency on re-signing Martinez, who's reportedly looking for a four-year deal.

The Tigers championship window isn't closed yet. Not with Justin Verlander, David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello definitely in the mix, but the Kansas City Royals postseason run coupled with another competitive season from the Cleveland Indians makes it clear winning a fifth straight AL Central title will take some work. Avoiding a slow start will be critical in that equation, and not having Cabrera or Martinez in the lineup in April makes them vulnerable. 

It's going to be a challenge for Dombrowski to build his roster with this extra hurdle now in his way. Can he rise to the occasion again, or will the circumstances finally push Detroit down the ladder in 2015?  

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 25, 2014, 9:28 am

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In trying to explain whether right-hander Kelvin Herrera would be available to pitch Saturday in Game 4 of the World Series following a relatively heavy workload recently, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost used a bizarre adjective to describe his pitching staff as a unit.

Herrera has thrown 59 pitches in two games over three days, so the Royals might hesitate to use him much, or at all, in Game 4. If he plays catch Saturday and feels sub-par, Yost expects Herrera to tell pitching coach Dave Eiland without fear of reprisal.

"The one thing we do really well as a staff is, we communicate, and our relievers and our starting staff know that we have complete trust in them," Yost said. "And if they tell us they can't go, we trust them. We don't feel that they're soft. We don't feel like they're sissies. We know that they know their body."

Ned, the 1970s called and said to stop using outdated words that could be misinterpreted as homophobic or sexist slurs. Who does he think he is, Pete Rose? Or maybe just Washington Nationals broadcaster Ray Knight, who apologized for using "sissy" in 2011. People who still say "sissy" probably consider it restraint. One could get meaner, more derogative and more profane — and probably would in private.

So we're lucky!

Just say, "They're not wimps." Or even, "They're tough." Everyone likes to hear how tough someone is.

At the same time, Yost prefaced his comments about trust by saying, "We're in the World Series. Everybody is available. But we don't want to be stupid, either. He may be available for an out, or he may not. He may just say, 'I need a break.' "

That's about as mixed of a message as can be sent. But they communicate well, so Herrera probably understands.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 25, 2014, 8:35 am

Your browser does not support iframes. Baseball fans were simply stunned when MLB declined to honor or even mention Tony Gwynn during July's All-Star game broadcast on Fox.

It was nearly one month to the day after Gwynn died at age 54 following a long battle with salivary gland cancer, and it was almost expected that a few moments would be set aside to pay tribute to one of the game's purest hitters and one of its most respected ambassadors. A Hall of Famer in every sense both on and off the field. 

Instead, Fox's cable sports network Fox Sports 1 aired a video tribute to Gwynn during its All-Star game pregame show, and that was that.

It was a nice video that would have sufficed, but airing it on the pre-game show didn't have the same impact as a moment-of-silence or the video airing during the game he starred in 15 times would have. Gwynn's exclusion from the broadcast felt strange, especially given the timing, and it left an empty feeling following an otherwise enjoyable game. 

That was then though. This is now.

Prior to Game 3 of the World Series, MLB and Fox righted the wrong from July by honoring Gwynn in conjunction with the league's Stand Up To Cancer campaign. The on-field ceremony included a special video tribute, which highlighted his two World Series appearances in 1984 and 1998, as well as his 3,000th hit at Montreal's Olympic Stadium back in 1999. Gwynn's widow, Alicia, was among those acknowledged at the ceremony. Gwynn's four grandchildren were there as well, as was Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred.

It was the acknowledgment Gwynn deserved three months ago, though there's no denying this was a bigger stage. It may have worked better for the family as well, who in July may not have been completely ready . On Friday, they were strong and together, and they were very appreciative of the tribute.

"It was very nice," Alicia Gwynn said about the video and ceremony, which were warmly received by the capacity crowd. "That's the first time I'd seen that one."

Alicia saw her first ballgame since her husband's death in late September, when her son, Tony Jr., was in the lineup for the Phillies at San Diego's Petco Park. She also attended the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the end of July, accompanied by her daughter, Anisha.

"It's all been tough, it's been very tough," said Alicia, who began dating Tony when the two attended Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic High School. "You know, I'll never be OK with it, but I have to learn how to cope. Little by little I'm learning how to cope."

Gwynn's memory was also a big part of the league's powerful Stand Up To Cancer moment, which has become a yearly tradition at the World Series. Gwynn's widow, Commissioner Bud Selig and several others in the Commissioner's box were standing for Gwynn.

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Having Gwynn's family there to stand up in his honor made a touching moment even more impactful.   

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 25, 2014, 8:05 am

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The first at-bat in the professional life of right-handed relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera, coming in the seventh inning of Game 3 of the World Series, went as well as the Kansas City Royals could have hoped.

Actual hitter Eric Hosmer explained why after the Royals 3-2 victory Friday night at AT&T Park, which put them two more victories from their first championship since 1985.

"I was just hoping he didn't pull an oblique, or didn't get hit in the hand," Hosmer said. "That's all I was hoping."

Wisdom. Herrera came through healthy after his three-pitch strikeout against right-hander Sergio Romo, which stranded Jarrod Dyson at first base. Herrera even fouled off the second pitch, catching it off the end of his bat.

"He did make contact? That's pretty impressive," Hosmer said.

The Royals could laugh it off, considering manager Ned Yost got away with not one, but two questionable decisions to let his pitchers hit. Yost also let starter Jeremy Guthrie lead off the top of the sixth with the Royals leading 1-0. Guthrie, at least, has compiled a professional body of work as a hitter. But when the Royals went on to score two runs after Guthrie made the first out of the inning — and then was removed from the game in the next half-inning without retiring any more Giants hitters — it seems like Yost made a foolish decision.

"Guthrie threw the ball extremely well through the first five innings," Yost noted, before Brandon Crawford reached on a single — "a little base-hit through the four-hole" — and Mike Morse followed with an RBI double to left to get a rally cooking.

"I wasn't going to take any chances, this is a big game — a pivotal game in my mind," Yost said. "I was going to go with my bullpen in the sixth."

Not going to take any chances?! Then why not pinch hit someone for Guthrie in the top of the sixth? The Royals managed to win without having a designated hitter and without using a pinch hitter at any point. Billy Butler and Nori Aoki stayed on the bench with Yost, who was asked by a reporter after the game how he would have felt if the Royals had lost the game after such tactics.

(AP)"I didn't lose the game, so I don't think about that stuff," Yost said.

Right. What does he care? Yost has come up golden the entire postseason. It's the other team that's been getting Yosted.

Pinch hitting for Herrera in the seventh was trickier. Yost said he didn't want to employ a double switch involving Mike Moustakas, "not with the lead," because it would have made the Royals weaker defensively at third base.

Yost also said, inconceivably, that Dyson getting a two-out single messed with his intentions.

"I was hoping Dyson would make an out there," Yost said. "But he steps up and foils my plan and gets a hit. So that's the way the National League game works."

They let you try to score more runs in the National League, don't they?

Think about this: Dyson, whom Yost uses frequently as a pinch runner, gets on base — which means he stands a chance to steal second and put himself in scoring position. It's a one-run game at this point. The Royals could use another run. It's not a frivolous desire.

The downside to having Dyson try to steal: What if he gets caught? Then the pitcher's spot leads off the eighth. Yost could pinch hit again, or even try a dreaded double switch — if he could bring himself to do it. He could double switch second baseman Omar Infante, maybe, if not Moustakas or Eric Hosmer. That way, Yost could use Aoki or Butler to bat and keep turning the screws on the Giants. But no. Because he had planned to use Herrera over parts of two innings, he wouldn't dare pinch hit for him and start the seventh inning with Brandon Finnegan or someone else on the mound.

Of course, who gets two outs in the seventh inning anyway because Herrera continued to be spotty with his command, so Yost pulled him? Finnegan.

Yost has done a mostly splendid job managing the Royals in the playoffs, but he did them no favors with his decisions to let his pitchers hit in Game 3.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 25, 2014, 7:39 am

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SAN FRANCISCO —The list of what Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer wanted for his birthday contained exactly one item.

"All I asked for was a win," said Hosmer, who turned 25 on Friday. 

He got it. The Royals edged the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in Game 3 of the World Series, taking a 2-1 advantage. He also helped it happen. Hosmer's RBI single in the sixth inning — which came after an 11-pitch at-bat against Giants reliever Javier Lopez — ended up being the difference in the game. (Though, the Giants' two runs came after Hosmer's single).

It's not quite teammate Brandon Finnegan's unique place in baseball history, but the list of players who have driven in a World Series run on their birthday puts Hosmer in cozy company.

Eric Hosmer is the first player with a World Series RBI on his birthday since 1991. He's just the ninth player to do it overall.

— Paul Casella (@paul_casella) October 25, 2014

Interestingly, the last time also happened to two Oct. 24 babies:

Eric Hosmer is1st player with a World Series RBI on his birthday since Junior Ortiz & Rafael Belliard on the same day 23 years ago today.

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 25, 2014

Hosmer stood in front of his locker in AT&T Park's visitor's clubhouse after the game, all smiles. He was asked if this is the best birthday of his life. 

"By far," he said immediately. 

What was the best before this? He thought a second, not entirely sure. 

"Driver's license," he said. "That was a good one."

Little did Hosmer know that 1,800 miles away in Kansas City's downtown Power and Light District, Royals fans were celebrating his birthday too. Here's a throng of Royals fans singing him "Happy Birthday."

Look at that! And Hosmer didn't even have to pick up the bar tab this time.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 6:43 am

SAN FRANCISCO — This wasn't one of those history-making moments that came out of nowhere. Brandon Finnegan, the 21-year-old Kansas City Royals relief pitcher, has heard people talking about this for months.

Finnegan was the Royals' first-round draft pick in June. He also pitched in the College World Series in June for Texas Christian University. He arrived in the big leagues on Sept. 6 and not long after people were telling him he could be the first pitcher to appear in both the College World Series and MLB World Series. (Yes, some people in Royals world were thinking World Series as a possibility in early September).

Friday night, in the Royals' Game 3 World Series win, it happened. Finnegan marched out from the bullpen, he got two crucial outs in the seventh inning with a runner on base and the Royals up one. Now, he stands alone in history. And, after seven whole weeks as a big-league pitcher, his cap is Cooperstown.

Brandon Finnegan's cap from tonight is headed to Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame asked for it, and he said yes. He'll wear a new one Saturday.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 25, 2014

"I'm very lucky," he said.

There's no question which World Series is more important, but Finnegan also noticed another big difference.

“This is insane," Finnegan said. "College World Series, there’s a lot of people there, but they’re not there to just cheer on your team. It’s nice and loud, but the crowds here are here for one team and one team only. They’re going to make sure you know it, too. The crowds in Omaha [Neb.] definitely don’t chirp at you the way they do here.”

(AP)

A Giants fan yelled at him when he was in the bullpen: “You’re too short to ride this ride.” 

“I thought that was pretty funny," said Finnegan, who is listed as 5-foot-11, but that might be a little generous. "That’s when I was warming up. I turned around and gave him a thumbs up because I thought that was pretty funny myself.”

He wasn't laughing after he got the third out of the seventh. That was pure relief.

"There was a lot of stress taken away after that," Finnegan said. "I was nervous but not too nervous. I was glad I got the job done so I could hand it off to Wade [Davis]. After that, I knew we were gonna win.”

And win they did, taking a 2-1 series advantage over the Giants. TCU didn't win the College World Series, so that's something he can do for the first time with the Royals. In fact, Finnegan says that's more on his mind after Game 3 than his unique place in baseball history.

"Nothing's hit me yet. When the season's over and I'm hanging around with my friends and they're blowing my ear up about it, then I think I'll realize what happened," Finnegan said. "Until then, it's still go time."

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 6:02 am

The San Francisco Giants already possess a notable home-field advantage because of the unique layout at AT&T Park. For Game 3 of the World Series, it appeared the grounds crew was looking to give them an even greater advantage by watering down the infield to an almost excessive level in an attempt to slow down the Kansas City Royals' enormous speed advantage on the bases.

In the end, it would become more of an afterthought than an advantage after the Royals won the game 3-2 and grabbed a 2-1 series lead, but the overly saturated infield dirt was easily noticed and its effects were often discussed during the early innings.

Giants grounds crew spent entire October water allotment on the infield; I just saw a sea lion surface to Panik’s right

— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) October 25, 2014

Pretty cool that McCovey Cove was relocated in about 400 feet for this game

— Bryan Kilpatrick ⚾ (@purplerowBK) October 25, 2014

Giants grounds crew trying to turn the dirt into mud to slow the Royals. Cain and Dyson still flying home to first in under 4.0 seconds.

— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) October 25, 2014

The grounds crew here cleaning up the over-watered infield between innings. Sloppy track surely aimed at KC base-stealers.

— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 25, 2014

The gamesmanship involved is clear, but this is far from an original tactic. In one instance back in 2011, New York Mets manager Terry Collins accused the Atlanta Braves of watering down the infield to slow down Jose Reyes. After Reyes slipped three times on the bases, Collins filed a complaint with the league because he considered the conditions a safety issue, in addition to an advantage for the Braves. 

The league didn't act then, and there's nothing in the rules now that prohibits San Francisco from creating such an advantage. It's akin to teams growing or cutting the infield grass to capitalize on a team strength or an opponent's weakness. It's a tactical move, and as long as it doesn't create an obvious hazard for the players, it's all fair. 

Though the Royals didn't attempt a stolen base for the second game in the series, the muddy track proved to be no advantage to San Francisco. Alcides Escobar scored easily from first base on Alex Gordon's sixth-inning double in their biggest test on the bases. That would prove to be a key moment in Kansas City's one-run victory. 

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In another key moment, San Francisco's Hunter Pence was cut down stealing in the second inning. So maybe it even backfired to some extent.

Regardless of the infield conditions, there was nothing San Francisco could do to offset Lorenzo Cain's continued stellar play in the outfield, or Kansas City's dominant bullpen once the late innings rolled around. Though Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post does have one suggestion for the former. 

The Giants' grounds crew should consider covering the outfield grass with rubber cement.

— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) October 25, 2014

Anything to eliminate those fantastic jumps Cain gets on seemingly every fly ball.

Also, for whatever it's worth, the tarp is now covering the infield with rain in the forecast for early Saturday. They want it muddy, sure, but apparently they don't want Saturday off. 

Tarp on infield at AT&T Park. #SFGiants #KCRoyals #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/LBXVcIimFN

— Steve Kroner (@SteveKronerSF) October 25, 2014

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 25, 2014, 5:19 am

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The Kansas City Royals put the odds of winning a championship in their favor by edging the San Francisco Giants 3-2 on Friday night in Game 3 of the World Series. In the 56 times a Series has been tied through two games, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the championship 38 times — 68 percent.

The Royals' formula remained as it has been: Get a lead, play strong defense, let the bullpen take care of the ending.

A leadoff double by Alcides Escobar and, two batters later, an RBI groundout by Lorenzo Cain, got them on the board in the first. They extended the lead to 3-0 in the sixth, thanks to key RBI hits by Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer.

Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was effective through five scoreless innings, but the Giants mounted a comeback in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI double by Mike Morse and, with two outs after Kelvin Herrera relieved Guthrie, an RBI grounder by Buster Posey.

Rookie left-hander Brandon Finnegan retired two batters to strand the potential tying run at first base in the seventh, also starting a string of eight straight batters retired to end the game. 

Here are five key moments, starting with Gordon's double:

1) GORDON'S RUN-SCORING DOUBLE AFTER YOST'S QUESTIONABLE DECISION
The Royals probably got more out of Guthrie than most could have expected, but a shutout was unlikely so Gordon's RBI double against Tim Hudson gave the Royals some room to breathe. Also huge about the Royals scoring in the sixth: Manager Ned Yost had decided to let Guthrie bat to lead off the inning. Certainly a questionable move on Yost's part, given the depth on his bench and in his pen. Predictably, Guthrie made an out — and was removed from of the game in the next inning without having retired another batter.

2) FINNEGAN SHUTTING THE DOOR

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Herrera was not sharp, though he managed to keep the Giants from tying the score in the sixth. After Yost allowed Herrera to fruitlessly hit for himself in the top of the seventh, Herrera walked the leadoff man in the bottom half. After Brandon Belt struck out, Yost went to the bullpen again, and Finnegan got two outs to stop the Giants' rally. That allowed Wade Davis and Greg Holland to pitch an inning, respectively, and the Royals usually have most of the leverage when that happens.

3) YOST STARTING DYSON IN CENTER AND CAIN IN RIGHT

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Yost deciding to bench Nori Aoki, choosing instead to start Jarrod Dyson in center and shift Lorenzo Cain to right, probably saved runs. Cain made a sweet diving catch on Travis Ishikawa's sinking liner in the second with a runner aboard. 

Cain also made a sliding catch on his knees to rob Posey of a hit in the first inning:

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These plays helped keep the bases clear for Guthrie, who allowed no runs until the sixth. As has been the case throughout the playoffs, the Royals led with their defense.

4) ERIC HOSMER'S 11-PITCH AT-BAT

 

That ball was smoked. #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/88T7115D52

— MLB Fan Cave (@MLBFanCave) October 25, 2014

 

He started the World Series 0 for 8, but Hosmer kept after left-hander Javier Lopez in the Royals' big sixth inning. Waiting him out through an 11-pitch at-bat, Hosmer lined an RBI single to center to extend K.C.'s lead to 3-0.

 

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last time a lefty had a plate appearance of at least 11 pitches against Javier Lopez: July 15, 2004, J.T. Snow

— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) October 25, 2014

 

Also, it should be noted:

 

Eric Hosmer is the first player with a World Series RBI on his birthday since 1991. He's just the ninth player to do it overall.

— Paul Casella (@paul_casella) October 25, 2014



5) SAL PEREZ THROWING OUT GREGOR BLANCO ON A BUNT TRY

 

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Who knows how the eighth inning goes if Salvador Perez mishandles, or throws away, the bunt attempt by Gregor Blanco. Blanco, who has been pesky throughout the playoffs, might have been on base with Buster Posey coming up, and the outcome of the game might have changed.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 25, 2014, 4:14 am

SAN FRANCISCO — The Kansas City Royals' mantra this entire postseason has been "Just get to the seventh inning with a lead." That's when their lockdown bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland usually takes over.

The Royals' bats did their jobs again in the sixth inning — scoring twice against the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the World Series. The Royals had been holding onto a 1-0 lead since the first inning. Both starting pitchers had been dealing. But in the sixth, as the Royals faced Giants starter Tim Hudson for the third time, they were able to put together another rally.

It wasn't the five-run dagger they put on the Giants in Game 2, but it was still effective. A few of the usual Royals suspects were swinging the bats: Alcides Escobar singled to start the inning, then Alex Gordon doubled him in. Eric Hosmer then brought around Gordon to make it a 3-0.

Michael Morse came off the bench with a big hit for the Giants. (USA TODAY Sports)

With the Royals' bullpen looming, even the sixth inning starts to feel stifling. And that's just where the Giants found themselves. But San Francisco's offense finally showed signs of life in its half of the sixth, rallying for two runs after a single by Brandon Crawford, a pinch-hit RBI double by Michael Morse and two ground outs that brought Morse around to score. The Giants chased Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie from the game, and managed to make contact against Herrera's heaters.

To no one's surprise, bullpens played a big part in which team eventually won Game 3. Herrera allowed two walks to Giants hitters, but no hits. In fact, the Royals relievers — four of them, because Brandon Finnegan also got the ball — pitched four hitless innings. 

The Royals took that one-run lead into the seventh. The Giants didn't pose much of a threat beyond a seven-inning walk. The Royals' mantra held up.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 2:37 am

SAN FRANCISCO — In the history of sports-related viral marketing stunts, this has to be one of the all-time worst. A national boat rental company put out a press release Friday — the first day the San Francisco Giants were playing at home in the 2014 World Series — saying it had secured the naming rights to AT&T Park's famous McCovey Cove and would rename it.

Boats patrol the cove in pursuit of homers, so it sort of makes sense. Except it was a total hoax.

The Giants fumed as word started to make its way around the Internet and through local news outlets. And Willie McCovey, the Giants great after whom the cove is named, called the Giants because he was confused. Was the name really being changed?

From the San Jose Mercury News' Daniel Brown:

A handful of local news outlets were duped by a company purporting to buy the rights. Among those to see the erroneous report on television was Willie McCovey himself. The Hall of Famer called a Giants executive wondering what was up.

"Have you heard this?" McCovey asked.

"It's not true! It's ridiculous!" Mario Alioto, the Giants' senior vice president, assured him.

The Giants also refuted the McCovey Cove renaming claims on Twitter:

The claim that naming rights of McCovey Cove have been sold is a hoax and completely false.

— #OctoberTogether (@SFGiants) October 24, 2014

It is also completely disrespectful to one of the greatest #SFGiants of all time.

— #OctoberTogether (@SFGiants) October 24, 2014

Later, a Giants executive told the Mercury News that the team wasn't even interested in the boat rental company's apology. Staci Slaughter, the team's senior vice president for communications, spoke to the newspaper on the condition that the boat company went unnamed, as to not give it the attention it's seeking. The Stew likes that notion too.

"Don't mess with McCovey on the day of the World Series!'' Slaughter said. "I usually don't lose my cool with people, but I completely lost my cool with this ... It's so stupid."

Yeah, this idea definitely wasn't a home run.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 1:05 am

SAN FRANCISCO — The combined strength of America is just too much, apparently.

The San Francisco Giants rolled out a huge American flag for the pre-game national anthem at World Series Game 3. People stood in the outfield and stretched it out. There's wonderful metaphor in that. Problem was, the flag tore. 

Such is the peril of having a big ol' flag: it can produce a big ol' hole.

Here's the flag malfunction in Vine form, via Erin Faulk:

America is a resilient country. We can overcome this.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 25, 2014, 12:29 am

It's essentially a five-game series now. The San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals split the first two games of the World Series, so now the first team to win three more games gets baseball's ultimate trophy.

The series has shifted to San Francisco for Friday's Game 3, in which Tim Hudson pitches for the Giants against Jeremy Guthrie for the Royals. The Yahoo Sports MLB crew — columnists Tim Brown and Jeff Passan, plus the bloggers from Big League Stew — will be serving up commentary from start to finish.

Use this handy Twitter tracker to follow the game with live commentary from our writers and other MLB experts.

MORE WORLD SERIES READING FROM BIG LEAGUE STEW
- Royals shake-up their lineup
- Tim Hudson gets his first World Series start
- Royals try to learn the quirks of AT&T Park
- Billy Butler ready for pinch-hitting role
- Check out the arm of this peanut vendor

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 24, 2014, 11:08 pm

(AP)It's not Tommy John. It's not supposed to affect his offseason routine, and won't impact his preparation for the 2015 season, the St. Louis Cardinals say.

Regardless, the club confirmed Friday that ace right-hander Adam Wainwright has undergone surgery to "trim cartilage" in his right elbow. Wainwright and club general manager John Mozeliak had been saying that surgery was not on the horizon — as recently as Monday — but the pitcher sought a second medical opinion earlier this week and had a surgical procedure done Friday.

Wainwright has said he's felt periodic discomfort in his elbow going back to June, and it's likely to have affected his performance from time to time — even though Wainwright never used it as an excuse.

Reporter Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was told initially that Wainwright had undergone surgery on an elbow ligament — which, whoa — but it's not that.

Wainwright had ligament replacement surgery in 2011, and the rate of such operations has surged in recent seasons, which leads to more worry about the elbow.

From the P-D:

The pitcher should be ready to resuming a throwing program in six weeks. That would give Wainwright plenty of time to get ready for spring training, and the right-hander was already expected to have a reduced schedule coming into spring training to save mileage on his arm.

Earlier this week, Mozeliak said that Wainwright had an MRI on the irritated joint and went through a battery of tests a week ago. The results of those exams, the Cardinals said, resulted in a diagnosis that no surgical procedure was necessary to alleviate his discomfort. Rest was prescribed.

Part of the reason for the Cardinals giving conflicting information to the media is, probably, Wainwright being in denial about how hurt he really is — though he might say it's because the media tends to blow stuff out of proportion. Regardless, that's why the press will write one thing about a player not having surgery and then something contradictory will happen. That's also how stuff gets blown out of proportion, because the team isn't being straight with reporters.

So remember this when you read sentences such as:

Mozeliak said the surgery would have no impact on Wainwright's 2015 season.

After being a top starter during the regular season, Wainwright's postseason results in 2014 were a mixed bag. He had a horrendous outing in the division series round against the Dodgers, and couldn't get out of the fifth inning against the Giants in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. He bounced back and pitched well in Game 5, though the Cards were eliminated.

Hopefully, his surgery leads to 30-something pain-free starts in 2015.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 24, 2014, 9:15 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — You have to wonder, by the end of Game 3 of the World Series, will the pundits be talking about how Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost made all the right moves or will they be calling him a dunce again?

Yost gave the Royals' lineup a shake-up before the pivotal game Thursday night against the San Francisco Giants. He's starting speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson instead of Nori Aoki and he's moved up both Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas in the batting order.

The moves are partially adjustments to NL rules, because the Royals will bat without designated hitter Billy Butler. They're also adjustments to AT&T Park, where Dyson's more sound defense will play better in a sometimes-unpredictable outfield.

.@SFGiants look to take advantage of home park as #WorldSeries shifts to the Bay for Game 3: http://t.co/OfYOmKAGZK pic.twitter.com/hDO2N62MEF

— MLB (@MLB) October 24, 2014

Dyson, usually a late-game replacement, starting in centerfield shifts Lorenzo Cain to right field, where Aoki has started in every postseason game before this. Aoki's a better hitter than Dyson, but Dyson is both better defensively and faster.

Jarrod Dyson starts in centerfield for the Royals in Game 3. (USA TODAY Sports)"It was out of necessity," Yost said. "With this vast outfield, we knew that we had to put our best defense out there. So that took Nori out of the two hole. We put Alex in there. Because of the speed of Dyson at the bottom of the order and the speed with Escobar at the top of the order, Alex might get a few more fastballs to hit, and we like Alex in that spot."

The Giants didn't change anything in their lineup, despite some chatter that they might give Michael Morse a start in left field since he's been hitting well. He was their DH in the first two games of the series and hit that big homer in the final NLCS game. The Giants stayed with Travis Ishikawa as their starting left fielder.

As expected, Royals DH Billy Butler is also on the bench. Now he and Aoki will give Yost a couple of bats to call on in pinch-hitting and double-switch situations.

"Just because you're not starting in a National League game doesn't mean you're not going to have an impact to win the game," Yost said. "A lot of times you'll be put into a crucial situation where your one at-bat could win the game for your team. Nori's going to be ready. Billy's going to be ready."

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 24, 2014, 8:41 pm

 

From the standpoint of the Kansas City Royals, the throw made by the peanut vendor in the video above might have been the only meaningful highlight from Game 1 of the World Series. Sure, slugger Salvador Perez hit a home run late in the ballgame to get the Royals on the scoreboard, but a 7-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants was emotionally deflating from the time that Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer in the first.

(<a target=Taking over when the ballclub otherwise was having a down night, Ace Peanut Man — also known as Daniel Nash — pleased the fans in right field by making a gargantuan toss from the lower-deck seats and reaching the pointy seats at the end of the upper tank at Kauffman Stadium.

By the reaction of fans who witnessed it live, this throw does not seem routine. Neither was the payment: $5. We don't see Nash catch the money, but we definitely see it wadded up and thrown from the fan. Hopefully he tipped the guy with a $10 bill. Nash's Twitter account says he's been vending at Kauffman since 1980. A great year to begin, too, with George Brett hitting .390 and the Royals reaching the World Series.

To get a spacial idea of the peanut transaction, here's a Flickr photo of the right-field corner: 

 

Here's a photo illustrated with the approximate trajectory of the peanut tossing:

Peanut heave!

 

You don't run on Alex Gordon in left field, and you don't run on this peanut vendor at Kauffman Stadium.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 24, 2014, 8:38 pm

(USA TODAY Sports)SAN FRANCISCO — There's a long table running through the middle of the clubhouse. On it sits 54 boxes of baseballs. Each box has 12 balls. Giants players move from chair to chair, signing all the baseballs in front of them.

This is no quick task. There are 648 baseballs, so it's kind of like scrawling your name on a decade's worth of Christmas cards. It's probably not what any player wants to do between Games 2 and 3 of the World Series.

Tim Hudson, however, is playing in the first World Series of his 16-year MLB career. He'd already spent about a half hour signing baseballs Thursday, with many more still to do.

"Better than sitting at home," he said.

Hudson knows all about being at home during the World Series. Even though he's played on many good teams in his career, when the Giants reached the National League Championship Series, that was the furthest Hudson had advanced in the postseason.

Now, he's here, the ultimate destination, the World Series. And if he has to sign 600 baseballs and answer question after question because he's finally here, that's an acceptable byproduct.

"This is something I've never had to deal with at this point in my career," Hudson said. "It's something that I've always looked forward to. I've always hoped and dreamed that this opportunity would happen for me, and here I am on the eve of obviously the biggest game I've ever pitched. It's almost a sense of relief that it's finally here, that what I've hoped and dreamed for throughout my career is finally here, and there's not going to be anybody on the field that's more ready than I am."

Hudson starts Game 3 for the Giants against Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. At 39, Hudson is the third-oldest pitcher to make his World Series debut. The others: 46-year-old Jack Quinn in 1929 and 45-year-old Jamie Moyer in 2008.

Even though this is Hudson's first season with the Giants, there was the strong urge among his teammates to get him deep in the postseason. When the Giants clinched their NLCS berth, ace Madison Bumgarner singled out Hudson as someone he was happiest for. When the Giants clinched their World Series spot, the usually mild-mannered Hudson answered his teammates' call and stood in the middle of a champagne celebration circle, yelling "I waited 16 years for this!"

"I'm really excited for him that he gets to pitch at this stage," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He's had an incredible career, and for him to finally get to the World Series, I couldn't be happier for him. These guys feel the same. When he hits the mound, I'll feel like that, too. It's going to be a special moment."

You can distill Hudson's career to this: The teams he pitched for won a lot of games in the regular season, but never did too well in the playoffs. That's true for the "Moneyball" A's and it's true for his Braves years.

"You often wonder, is it ever going to happen?" said Hudson, who made the postseason in five of his first seven MLB seasons and lost in the first round each time.

"Early on it wasn't quite as frustrating because I thought that I'd be there every year. I thought I'd have an opportunity every year to get to the playoffs and have a chance to win. But as you start playing with some teams and you have that playoff drought of a few years in a row, you start realizing how hard it is to get here every year, and how hard it is to compete against a lot of teams in baseball."

Think Tim Hudson's happy to be here? (USA TODAY Sports)

The Giants, somewhat surprisingly, are the team to finally get him here. He signed a two-year, $23 million free agent contract to return to the Bay Area. When the Giants added Hudson, it seemed like the type of move that could turn a good team into a postseason contender.

You know the rest: Their season started strong, they collapsed and lost a huge lead in the NL West, then they entered the playoffs as the lowest NL seed. It seemed like a recipe for Hudson to be disappointed once again. But these Giants have uncorked another bottle of October magic. Now Tim Hudson can give them a 2-1 lead in the World Series during his Game 3 start. In two starts this postseason, he has a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 innings. The Giants won both games, a result they'd certainly be happy with this time.

"It's the pinnacle of baseball. This is what everybody hopes and dreams for throughout their career. It's obviously a bigger, brighter stage, but at the end of the day it's the same game we've played all year. It's the same game we've played our whole lives. It's just going out there and controlling those emotions and understanding that it's still a simple game. You've got to go out there and make pitches, have a solid game plan and be mentally and physically prepared. I feel really prepared and ready to go both mentally and emotionally and physically."

About those baseballs Hudson was signing: Each player gets a box of them as a keepsake for being on a World Series team. Years from now, Hudson will be able to pull out those balls and point to the signatures of Bumgarner and Jake Peavy and Buster Posey and remember what it was like to finally pitch in the World Series.

Not that he'd ever forget.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 24, 2014, 6:37 pm
(AP)

Contrary to statements he made 10 days ago after Andrew Friedman left the Tampa Bay Rays to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, Joe Maddon reportedly is using an opt-out clause in his contract with the Rays to leave the organization. He won't manage them in 2015, which Major League Baseball's account on Twitter confirms. Buster Olney of ESPN had the news first. 

As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs points out, it's amazing how feelings can change so quickly.

“I’m a Ray, I’ve said it all along, I want to continue to be one,” Maddon said. “‘I still believe … it’s the best place in all of baseball to work…

Until it's not.

Even though Maddon worked well with Rays ownership, problems in Tampa Bay remain because of their stadium issues, which don't appear to be close to resolution. He's also been in the same place for nine years and might just want a change after all.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported first that Maddon's "opt-out" clause was triggrered once Friedman left the club. It opened a window for the Rays to give Maddon a contract extension and a raise, but neither of which "worked out," Maddon told Tampa Bay media.

As soon as the Dodgers lured Friedman to lead their baseball operations after the season ended, speculation began that he would want to bring Maddon with him to manage his new club on the field. Maddon pooh-poohed the notion, saying he was under contract with Tampa Bay (while ignoring the clause that's letting him out of his deal now) and that he was happy where he was.

Conversely, media in Los Angeles asked Friedman about replacing Don Mattingly as manager, as Dodgers executives — aside from owner Mark Walter — reportedly were open to making a change.

“I’m going into it with the mind-set we’re going to work together for a long time. I had one manager in the 10 years I’ve been doing this and am looking forward to working with Donnie for a long time," Friedman said.

Unless he's not.

Friedman and other national media types are shooting down the Maddon-to-L.A. possibility:

 

Andrew Friedman: Don Mattingly will manage the #Dodgers next season. Joe Maddon's availability won't change that.

— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) October 24, 2014

 

Source: Maddon NOT heading to #Dodgers.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 24, 2014

 

Maddon's teams in Tampa Bay have a 754-705 record since 2006, when the organization was a laughingstock and still called the "Devil Rays." But since 2008, under Friedman's leadership off the field and Maddon's on it, the Rays have been to the World Series, and reached the playoffs four times. Maddon has become something of a rock star among major league managers, with a friendly and easy-going style, acceptance of new ideas with an old-school devotion to baseball, along with a noticeable air of confidence. Kind of a more benevolent Phil Jackson.

Maddon also lives in Long Beach, Calif., during the offseason and used to coach the Los Angeles Angels before joining Tampa Bay. He's got roots in Southern California.

(AP)

The Dodgers finished first in the National League West division the past two seasons, and Mattingly got lots of credit for keeping the Dodgers' clubhouse together in 2013. But the bloom seemed to be off the rose in 2014 when the team appeared to underachieve despite having the biggest payroll in the league.

Friedman and Maddon were a winning combination in Tampa Bay and could be again with the Dodgers, but it's also possible that having seemingly limitless resources could make winning consistently harder using philosophies that worked with a poorer team. More money, more problems, as a noted poet once said. But also more challenges. And different challenges. And that's what drives men such as Friedman and Maddon.

If not Los Angeles for Maddon, then where? How about the Chicago Cubs, where Rick Renteria is under contract?

 

Within industry, #Cubs viewed as a leading contender for Maddon. Renteria signed through 2016. Team could simply pay off rest of his deal.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 24, 2014

 

The Cubs. Now there's a challenge.

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Follow @AnswerDave 

Author: David Brown
Posted: October 24, 2014, 4:42 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Billy Butler stood in front of his locker Thursday afternoon, smiling and talking about his very abrupt role change in the World Series. His two singles and two RBIs keyed the Kansas City Royals' Game 2 victory, but now he'll wait his turn as a pinch hitter when the series shifts to the Giants' home turf for three games starting Friday. 

It's something that comes up every year in the World Series — the American League team is forced to find a new role for its designated hitter. For the Royals, a mostly small-ball team, there's reason to worry about what will happen to their offense when Butler is confined to just one at-bat per game at most. But the team is putting a positive spin on it, mostly because it has no other choice. 

"It's basically what I do four times a day anyway," Butler said, showing the easy-going sensibility that comes with a nickname like Country Breakfast. "When you're pinch hitting, you have to wait until the next day to hit again instead of the next hour." 

(USA TODAY Sports)That's the truth. But so is this: Butler's hitting .273 with seven RBIs in the postseason, third most on the team.

The Royals can rationalize the loss of Butler a few ways: They can use him whenever they want now. It adds some power to their bench. And they played without him for a spell in September, when he fell out of favor in manager Ned Yost's lineup. They know what they're getting into.

"We can use this as an advantage," Butler said. "Because [Yost] can put me in any situation he wants."

That, in fact, is exactly what Yost told Butler when they talked about his role with the series shifting to AT&T Park.

"Hey," Yost said. "You can win a ballgame off the bench in the 7th inning just as well as you can getting four at‑bats."

Butler's numbers as a pinch hitter support that thinking. He's 11-for-36 in his career as a pinch hitter, that's a .306 average. It's a smaller sample size, of course, but that's better than his .295 career average. As a pinch hitter, Butler also has two homers and four RBIs.

"I remember the good ones," he said, when asked to his recall his career as a pinch hitter. "You gotta have a short memory on the other ones."

There's truth to the notion that Butler will have a chance to make a big impact as a pinch hitter. In the NL park, the Royals will have more pinch-hitting opportunities. Given the way they play and the nature of the postseason, the Royals will likely need him to tie a game or put them ahead.

To Butler, that means staying focused on the game is even more important than when he's DHing.

"You can't let your mind check in and out," Butler says. "You have to always be watching the game, watching pitch sequences, watching everything. You have to be mentally challenged. When you come in to pinch hit, you have to ramp up your focus even more because of the situation you're getting throw into. You have to be ready for anything."

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 24, 2014, 10:07 am
(AP)

SAN FRANCISCO — The last time the Kansas City Royals played at AT&T Park, it was still called SBC Park and Jeremy Affeldt, the San Francisco Giants relief pitcher, was wearing blue.

It was 2005 and those Royals included Terrence Long in the outfield and Angel Berroa at shortstop. Ned Yost was managing the Milwaukee Brewers and Lorenzo Cain was playing his first year of rookie ball.

These Royals, the ones who will take the field Friday for Game 3 of the World Series, are a very different bunch. Playing at AT&T Park for them is like handing a 13-year-old an Atari joystick.

So the Kansas City bunch — a team that relies very much on its defense, mind you — spent their workout day learning the quirks of the Giants' home park. It's not a typical outfield out there, particularly in right field and right-center, where the wall plays an atypical game of geometry. 

"It's definitely tough," said Cain, a top-notch outfielder who plays either center or right field for the Royals. "With the brick, the chain-link fence and the angles out there, it's tough. You just have to be on your toes and be ready for anything. Even the warning track is soft. It's like beach sand."

(Getty Images)

There's also a tricky triples' alley. And if the wind kicks up, like we saw once in the NLCS, things can get even trickier.

"It's not Candlestick," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday, although his team is well accustomed to AT&T's challenges. 

Yost's bunch on the other hand, will continue feeling things out, even in to Friday's batting practice.

"They were just standing there watching balls in BP, seeing which way they bounce off those walls," Yost said. "So after our workout, after our batting practice tomorrow, our guys are going to have a really, really good idea on what's going to happen every time a ball hits that wall."

The quirky dimensions could impact the Royals' lineup too. Yost wasn't ready to commit to anything just yet, but he said the nature of AT&T Park could mean Jarrod Dyson starts instead of Nori Aoki, whose been known to play some adventurous right field. In such a scenario, Dyson would likely play center (like we usually see late in games) while Cain would shift over to right. Dyson's a better fielder, but Aoki's has a better bat. Aoki on the bench would give Yost another pinch-hitting option.

That's helpful because the Royals will also be playing a different style of ball in the NL park — no designated hitter, more double switches and more pinch hitters. 

"I managed in the National League for six years, so I'm comfortable doing it," Yost said, also crediting hitting coach Dale Sveum, who managed the Cubs in 2012 and 2013. "Dale's managed in the National League, he's comfortable. As a group, we're not afraid of the National League game. We understand the National League game."

The Royals, in fact, were quite good this season in interleague play, going 15-5 overall and 8-2 in NL parks.

"Our versatility, our athleticism, our speed definitely helps," Yost said, "and our bullpen."

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 24, 2014, 2:52 am
Man watches baseball on television.

The Kansas City Royals not only evened up the World Series against the San Francisco Giants in Game 2 on Wednesday night, they also scored an impressive victory of sorts against the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs in the local TV ratings.

 

TV ratings for the World Series Game 2 rebounded somewhat, pulling an 8.8 overnight, winning the night. KC was a 49.6; SF was a 28.7.

— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) October 23, 2014

 

Kansas City's TV market is No. 31 in the country, and San Francisco's is sixth, so MLB's strong showing among World Series towns impacts only about 3 percent of the country's televisions. Local results are another matter.

Although the Royals have gained ground on the Chiefs this season, it's not often they're measurably more popular than the local football team. Chiefs games during the 2013-2014 season pulled a 42.9 overall rating and reached 48.0 for Kansas City's epic playoff debacle on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. Among the entire NFL viewership, only the New Orleans Saints did better in the local TV ratings during the regular season than the Chiefs.

Some critics seem to enjoy lamenting how MLB's postseason ratings have declined through the years, but comparing TV ratings historically is tricky because of the expansion of choices available over cable and satellite providers over the past 30 years. Factoring in the rise in popularity of the NFL, the nature of a football season — when there's one local game per week, even during the playoffs — is incongruent to baseball, which gets most of its postseason results via series that are spread over a week or longer.

Regardless, the Royals strong local TV numbers show how much interest there is in a team playing in the World Series for the first time since 1985. If they get into a position to clinch a championship in Games 5, 6 or 7, it will be noteworthy to see how far beyond 50 percent the ratings can go in K.C.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 23, 2014, 4:45 pm

Your browser does not support iframes. Lost in the background of MLB's so far fascinating postseason is the experimentation going on down in the Arizona Fall League involving the league's proposed "pace of play" measures. In select games, we've even seen the first usage of a 20-second pitch clock, which is obviously designed to limit or eliminate any lollygagging and unnecessary posturing that routinely takes place between pitches.

As noted in the clip above, a pitch does not have to be released before the pitch clock expires. A pitcher coming set at the waist is good enough. From there though, the pitcher must either throw a pitch or make a pick-off attempt. Stepping off the mound after the clock hits zero results is considered a violation.

There were three violations in the first game which featured the clock, which will be used in 17 games total at Salt River Field during league play. Mark Appel, the Houston Astros No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft, committed two of those violations.

Your browser does not support iframes. The penalty for a clock violation is an automatic ball added to the batter's count.

Batters are also required to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout the 20-second countdown, unless one of a series of exceptions occurs. The exceptions include, among other things, a foul ball or a foul tip; time being granted to the hitter or catcher, and a pitch that drives the batter of the box. If the batter steps out, the pitcher will be allowed to continue and throw his pitch. 

As top Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Corey Seager told Baseball America, the pace of game measures are taking some getting used to because they are taking players out of their comfort zone.

“It’s tough,” Seager said. “You almost feel rushed. It’s not your normal (routine) where you can take your time, get your rhythm. It’s kind of on somebody else’s rhythm. It was a little rushed … getting on and off the field, getting your stuff done in the dugout and in the box mainly because you only have 20 seconds between pitches. You swing and then get right back in—it’s a little weird.”

It's weird, but there's little doubt it's had an impact.

A bit more context: @MLBazFallLeague game times with pitch clock: Game 1: 2:14 Game 2: 2:28 Game 3: 3:12 (11 innings) 2013 avg: 2:51

— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 18, 2014

Those are the numbers MLB is most interested in seeing.

Based on Seager's comments, it definitely sounds like the approach of most players would have to be adjusted should these measures be implemented permanently. But maybe they'll also find that a faster paced game leads to a more well-played game, as much of the thinking and perhaps over thinking would be eliminated.

We're probably a long way from this becoming a real story, but the foundation is being laid and you can bet MLB will continue examining the possibilities.

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 23, 2014, 12:16 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many pundits figured Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost would find himself at a tactical disadvantage throughout the Major League Baseball playoffs. And yet, when pitted against the likes of Bob Melvin, Mike Scioscia, Buck Showalter and now Bruce Bochy in the World Series, the Royals have seemed to manage just fine.

In Game 2 against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night, Yost's maneuvers turned out better than those of Bochy, particularly in the sixth inning, when the Royals rallied and built a lead they would keep through the last out of 7-2 victory that tied the Series at a game apiece.

And it was Bochy's decisions, not Yost's, that were being questioned.

Bochy's bottom of the sixth

Bochy with Strickland. (AP)

 

Is it possible that Bochy stuck with starter Jake Peavy too long, and then not long enough? Peavy had been cruising, having retired 10 straight to help keep the score tied 2-all. The concern: Peavy had never, in seven postseason starts, ever gotten past the sixth inning.

After a bloop single by Lorenzo Cain to lead off, Bochy didn't have left-hander Javier Lopez ready for Eric Hosmer, who instead drew a walk to put the Royals in business with no outs.

"First two innings he was a little erratic, but he was right on," Bochy said of Peavy. "I mean, he really was throwing the ball well. So, no, I can't say I was going to make a change there because he gave up a bloop hit. I was going to let Peavy face Hosmer."

Earlier in the game, Peavy had allowed an RBI single to Billy Butler so, after 66 pitches total, Bochy turned to Jean Machi "to give Butler a little different look."

Butler rolled with the change, lining a high changeup into left field for a go-ahead RBI single. Bochy continued going with matchups, using Lopez against Alex Gordon, who flied out to left — that worked out. The next pitcher, Hunter Strickland, did not. He threw a wild pitch, allowed a two-run double to Salvador Perez and a two-run home run to Omar Infante in a postseason nightmare from which he could not wake soon enough.

Yost had used pinch runner Terrance Gore to replace Butler — which was curious, considering Hosmer blocked Gore's best chance to steal a base. As it turned out, because of the Giants defensive alignment — the infield played in and the outfield shallow — Butler would have been able to score on Perez's double, which split the gap in left-center.

Strickland's appearance also featured a brief but unfortunate benches-clearing argument with Perez, which distracted from a troubling truth for the Giants: Their bullpen isn't as good as that of the Royals. (Then again, whose is?) Bochy needed a fifth pitcher, left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, just to end the inning.

Going to Sergio Romo to start the sixth, or instead of Strickland or Machi once the Royals started trouble, might have been the better play.

Yost's top of the sixth

(USA TODAY)

 

Bochy had let two batters hit against Peavy before calling the pen, but Yost gave his starter, Yordano Ventura, a three-batter leash a half-inning earlier. Ventura, who was throwing in the upper 90s but lacked command on his breaking pitches, allowed a soft single to Buster Posey and a well-placed infield single to Hunter Pence, sandwiched around a fly ball by Pablo Sandoval, to start the top of the sixth.

Yost using Ventura against the meat of the Giants order seemed risky and perhaps reckless, but getting the game to that point set up Kelvin Herrera for a five-out hold, which allowed Wade Davis to pitch the eighth and Greg Holland to take the ninth. That's been the Royals best formula for winning. Yost didn't mix and match lefty vs. righty like Bochy did because he doesn't need to.

"It's a huge luxury for me," Yost said. "After the sixth inning, my thinking is done. I don't have to mix and match. My concern innings, if you will, before the game, are the fifth and the sixth inning, if I've got to mix and match [those]. But once we get past the sixth inning, my guesswork is done. We've got a pretty good recipe for success with Herrera, Davis and Holland."

Yost is no wizard, and hasn't been managing like one (even if it seems like he hasn't made a costly mistake in about three weeks). But he knows his team's strengths and his own limitations. He did the best he could to just get out of their way.

"First do no harm," should be the lynchpin of any managerial oath. Yost was a great doctor in Game 2. Bochy, who like any skipper is only as good as his players performance, was only so-so directing them.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 23, 2014, 8:33 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Billy Butler must be one of the first players in World Series history to take a curtain call after an RBI single. Such responses usually happen after home runs, but the home crowd at Kauffman Stadium wouldn't let Butler get away Wednesday night without waving "thanks" after he was removed for a pinch runner in Game 2.

Butler put the Kansas City Royals ahead to stay with an RBI single against Jean Machi in the deciding sixth-inning rally. Back in the first inning, Butler ensured the San Francisco Giants wouldn't keep a lead for long after they scored first for the second straight night.

Butler's dual contributions were key in a 7-2 victory that evened the Series at a game apiece.

"Especially at home, I felt like this definitely was a must-win game," Butler said.

Royals manager Ned Yost said Butler's go-ahead hit was crucial.

(AP)

"The hit off Machi to put us ahead 3‑2 at that point was a monster hit for us," Yost said. "Because, again, I felt really strongly that whoever scored that third run was probably going to win the game."

It was timely because the Royals were able to play the final three innings with relief pitchers Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland on the mound protecting a lead. Against the Royals, that's almost certain doom.

"We know what our record is after that happens," Butler said.

With his playing time certain to be reduced over the next three games at AT&T Park, where there won't be a designated hitter used, Butler is trying to make every moment count in his first career Series appearance.

"It's not a disappointment at all," Butler said. "It's just the different rules. I'll be prepared for whatever the team needs, and hopefully I'll come up in a big situation and contribute in a way."

[World Series: Detective's funny tweet about Kelvin Herrera's fastball]

After his hit in the sixth, Butler said he didn't want to do a curtain call, but his teammates encouraged him to step out.

"They were egging me on," Butler said.

Butler also realizes, somewhere deep, that he might be playing his final games with the Royals. He's due to hit free agency this offseason.

Your browser does not support iframes.

 "This is all I know," Butler said of Kansas City, where he's played since 2007.

A face of the franchise in previous seasons, along with teammate Alex Gordon, Butler sustained a big drop in power the past two seasons, and put up probably his worst career numbers across the board in 2014. There were times when Butler would hear it from fans, either at the ballpark or via the media, about his declining numbers.

His performance in May, June and August was solid — among the best, or close to it, on a light-hitting team. And he's had several big moments in the Royals' first postseason since 1985 — none bigger than in the first inning when he tied the score with a sharp RBI single to left against Jake Peavy. Butler's hit snapped a team-wide streak of 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position.

Your browser does not support iframes.

 "One of those plays where I found a hole," Butler said. "I've done it that same way other times and hit it right at somebody."

In Game 1, the Royals had squandered a handful of chances to score after the Giants stormed to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Much of the enthusiasm was sucked from Kauffman after such an odious start for the home team, which had won eight straight games to start the postseason.

The Giants seemed poised to put a stranglehold on the Series after Gregor Blanco led off the top of the first in Game 2 with a solo home run. The Royals did not lose their poise.

"What can you do?" Butler said about falling in Game 1. "You're not going to win every game."

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 23, 2014, 5:55 am

The Kansas City Royals 7-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants in World Series Game 2 didn't necessarily set up perfectly, but it did allow manager Ned Yost to unleash his trio of dominant late-inning relievers with the game hanging in the balance.

The main thing that didn't fit Yost's preferred script was having to call on his usual seventh-inning reliever, Kelvin Herrera, to record an additional two outs in the sixth inning. Herrera has done this before during the postseason, recording five outs in the AL wild-game card and six outs in their ALCS Game 1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. It's something he's proven he can handle, and with a full week off in between outings, he was obviously well rested.

Make that extremely well rested. Herrera came right out of the bullpen firing nothing but heat. Eight 100-mph plus fastballs later, the Giants threat was over and many were left in amazement at Herrera's overpowering stuff.

That includes ESPN's Jayson Stark, who was moved to tweet the following.

Eight fastballs for Herrera in that inning. Your MPH readings: 101, 100, 101, 101, 101, 100, 101, 100. Call the cops. #worldseries

— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 23, 2014

The cops you say? Never fear. They're always a poice offer or detective on duty somewhere, and some are equipped with an instant quip for such baseball tweets.

@jaysonst I'm sorry but there is nothing we can do. He's just throwing a baseball.

— Joseph Murray (@PPDJoeMurray) October 23, 2014

Well played, detective Murray. There are no speed limits in baseball, and no team knows that better than the Royals.

Herrera's fastball isn't pleasant to face. To some it may even be unfair, but in baseball terms it's far from criminal. In fact, it's actually quite beautiful. And given how Herrera throws his fastball, it's also rare.

Kelvin Herrera was asked if he knows of any other pitcher in baseball with a 100-mph two-seamer. He smiled. "No," he answered.

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 23, 2014

Needless to say, he's not a comfortable at-bat. 

Herrera was forced to sit around a long time in Game 2 while the Royals scored five runs and San Francisco made four pitching changes in the sixth inning. His command was off and his velocity was slightly down early in the seventh, but he worked around back-to-back walks to keep Kansas City's five-run lead intact. Wade Davis and Greg Holland followed with scoreless innings of their own, as the Royals evened the series at 1-1.

BLS H/N: SB Nation

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 23, 2014, 5:50 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Following their 7-2 World Series Game 2 win over the San Francisco Giants, a smoke machine pumped fake smoke through the air of the Kansas City Royals' clubhouse.

Or it could have been the residual heat from the Royals' bullpen master trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. On Wednesday, the three shut out the Giants' offense to get the final 11 outs of the game.

The flamethrowing group has been integral to the Royals' success during the regular season and, even moreso, in the postseason. Through the Royals' 10 postseason games, the three have pitched 29 1/3 of the team's 95 innings played. Each has given up a solitary run and HDH, as they've come to be known via shorthand, have combined for 36 strikeouts while producing a WHIP of 0.89.

In Game 2, Herrera, the hardest-throwing member of the three, was up first once again as the Royals tied the World Series at 1-1.

Throughout the regular season, Royals manager Ned Yost used Herrera almost exclusively for the seventh inning. But after starting pitcher Yordano Ventura gave up two singles sandwiched around an out to start the sixth inning with the score tied 2-2, Yost went to Herrera to get out of the jam.

"I came in trying to get a double play or a fly ball or something like that because I don't want the run to score there because maybe we can lose," Herrera said.

[World Series: Detective's funny tweet about Kelvin Herrera's fastball]

His first pitch to Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was clocked at 101 mph. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Herrera got his fly out to left, one that prevented the runners from advancing to second and third.

The next hitter, designated hitter Mike Morse, grounded into a force out. Herrera had preserved the tie with nine pitches. Eight of them were either 100 or 101 mph.

Herrera's drama, and the only tension the three relievers would provide, came in the seventh. In the bottom of the sixth, a half-inning that featured four pitching changes, the Royals scored five runs. All the while Herrera was admittedly in the dugout for longer than he's used to.

When he came out for the seventh, he immediately struck out Travis Ishikawa. But after the strikeout, Herrera walked both Brandon Crawford and Gregor Blanco, necessitating a visit from Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland. What did Eiland tell Herrera?

"Just raise my elbow up because I was trying to be too fine to throw strikes," Herrera said. "And I think that helped me a lot because I started throwing strikes again."

After going down 2-0 in the count to second baseman Joe Panik, Herrera came through. Panik flew out to center for the second out of the seventh. Then, catcher Buster Posey went quickly down 0-2 before grounding to second base. A potential threat to the Royals' now-commanding lead was averted, all while Herrera threw 14 of his 32 pitches in 1 2/3 innings at or over 100 mph in his fourth multi-inning stint of the playoffs.

[World Series: Hunter Strickland's meltdown has Giants looking for help]

From there, Davis and Holland made it look easy. Davis worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning on strikeouts of third baseman Pablo Sandoval and right fielder Hunter Pence and a grounder to first by Belt. Eleven of Davis' 14 pitches were strikes. His fastest pitch was 98 mph.

In the ninth, Holland struck out three, mixing up his slider and a fastball that touched 96 mph. The only blemish was a single by Crawford.

While it wasn't a save situation, the final inning was an opportunity for Holland to cap an evening that started with receiving the Mariano Rivera award after being chosen the American League's best reliever. In April, baseball announced the reliever of the year awards in each league would be named for Rivera and Trevor Hoffman in the National League.

"That was a great experience for me," Holland said. "I'm really humbled to get that award, especially when I've got a plaque with Mariano Rivera's name on it and mine on it, too. So that's incredible. But I thought it was bad timing to be honest with you. Six o'clock, Game 2 of the World Series – I told [National League winner and Atlanta Braves pitcher Craig Kimbrel], this would be a bad time to blow one, you know?"

Losing a lead late has happened once this season for the Royals. Counting postseason games, the Royals are 76-1 when leading after seven innings in 2014. That's almost exclusively in part to the most dominant three reliever combination in baseball. Though perhaps for psychological reasons, they don't view wins as a sure thing while pitching with the lead.

"I don't think we view it as if the game's 'over' when we come in," Davis said. "That's what's made us good this year; we haven't viewed it like that. We've viewed it like a situation where we needed to push harder. We need to be smarter, and do things a little different each time in order to keep the hitters off balance. That's a credit to all of the guys down there and our preparation."

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: October 23, 2014, 5:31 am

Just as World Series Game 2 got interesting on Wednesday night, Comcast customers who double as baseball fans in and around Washington D.C. were left in the dark about what was going on at Kauffman Stadium. The Kansas City Royals had already struck for three run in what would prove to be the difference-making sixth inning in their 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants, but the biggest blow and first real incidence of drama was yet to come.

All those fans knew was that Omar Infante was about to step in against Giants rookie reliever Hunter Strickland, and the Royals were on the brink of breaking the game wide open with one swing.

Then this happened.

The most dramatic point this far in the World Series and DC cable goes to an emergency alert test pattern. pic.twitter.com/Jw2T472Fn0

— Brendan Danaher (@bjdanaher) October 23, 2014

This is only a test of the emergency broadcast alert system. It's just a really poorly timed one.

As it turned out, Infante launched a two-run home run that essentially iced the game for Kansas City. It also frustrated Strickland, who had just allowed his fifth home run in six postseason appearances, and he let those frustrations get the best of him. As Salvador Perez rounded the bases ahead of Infante, he took exception to Strickland as he stomped around the mound and apparently uttered some less-than-flattering words. This led to the Royals bench clearing and a few more unflattering words.

The situation died down quickly and resulted in Bruce Bochy removing the 22-year-old right-hander, but it was arguably the most interesting minute or two in the World Series so far. Yet those poor fans in Washington were stuck with the message above.

Needless to say, they weren't pleased.

don't get me wrong, if i was under a tornado warning, break away. but this was "only a test." during the WS. NOT OK. missed a 2 run homer.

— jenn rubenstein (@jennrubenstein) October 23, 2014

Oh, there was A HOME RUN during my TV's emergency alert test. That seems about right.

— Jason Horowitz (@jasondhorowitz) October 23, 2014

I MISSED A HOMER I HATE YOU COMCAST

— AmbyBamby (@FeFiFoFamby) October 23, 2014

Though most fans living in the D.C. area have no true rooting interest in this series, there's at least some connection here. It was the Giants who eliminated the Washington Nationals in four games during the NLDS. Ironically, they also had a run-in with Strickland, who took exception to Bryce Harper's game-tying home run in Game 4. 

Watching Strickland getting lit up again may have warmed their hearts on some level, but nothing could replace the emptiness they all felt as the screen went blue.

Well, actually, a Nationals' World Series appearance would have changed things significantly, including the anger level. 

BLS H/N: Deadspin

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Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 23, 2014, 5:19 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jake Peavy was cruising, having retired 10 straight batters and looking like he would save the San Francisco Giants from needing to use their bullpen until the seventh inning. But the sixth inning has been a danger zone for him — Peavy never had made it past the sixth in seven career postseason starts. 

The Kansas City Royals helped to continue Peavy's unfortunate streak Wednesday night in Game 2 of the World Series, knocking out Peavy in the bottom of the sixth during a five-run outburst that keyed a 7-2 victory against the San Francisco Giants. It was Kansas City's first World Series victory since 1985.

Omar Infante's two-run homer capped the scoring in the sixth, and it also prompted a strange moment when players from both teams left their respective bench areas because of an argument between Strickland and Salvador Perez of the Royals. Regardless, the big inning put the Royals in position to tie the Series at a game apiece heading back San Francisco for three games at AT&T Park starting Friday night.

With the score tied 2-all, Lorenzo Cain led off the sixth with a bloop single to center. Peavy seemed to avoid throwing much in the zone to Eric Hosmer, walking him to put runners at first and second. That ended Peavy's night, with manager Bruce Bochy going to reliever Jean Machi to face Billy Butler, who lined an RBI single to left to give Kansas City a 3-2 lead.

One out and another pitching change later, right-hander Hunter Strickland threw a wild pitch to move Hosmer to third base and Terrance Gore — who pinch ran for Butler — to second. With the infield playing in and the outfield positioned shallow, Perez lined a two run double to the gap in left-center, scoring two more.

(AP)

 

Peavy allowed four earned runs and six hits with two walks over five-plus innings. His career postseason ERA is 7.05 in 37 innings.

 

 

Infante followed with a two-run homer to left — his first long ball in 159 career plate appearances and 40 postseason games — making it 7-2.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 23, 2014, 3:33 am

The Kansas City Royals erased any doubts about how they'd bounce back from their first loss of the 2014 postseason. They were just fine in Game 2 of the World Series, potent in fact.

The Royals, powered by a five-run sixth inning, beat the San Francisco Giants by the count of 7-2. Omar Infante hit a two-run homer, Salvador Perez knocked a two-run double and Billy Butler had two RBI singles. The Giants imploded in the sixth after pulling starter Jake Peavy. They used four relievers in the inning. The one people will remember is rookie Hunter Strickland, who allowed Perez's double, Infante's homer and then lost his temper, causing the Royals' bench to clear.

Here are five key moments, starting with Strickland's meltdown:

INFANTE HOMERS, TEMPER FLARE
The most talked-about play of Game 2 will certainly be Infante's two-run homer in the sixth inning that put the Royals ahead comfortably. It also led to a benches-clearing moment when Strickland lost his temper and started jawing at Perez, who scored on the homer. This wasn't so much a Giants vs. Royals thing as it was a frustrated Strickland letting his emotions show the worst of him. Perez was baffled that Strickland was so upset, but many other Royals rushed onto the field. Theatrics aside, this capped a disappointing postseason for the rookie Giants pitcher, who gave up his fifth homer in six appearances. Oof.

* * * 

(AP)
PEREZ KNOCKS IN TWO
Round 1 of Strickland vs. Perez also went to Perez, who hit the two-run double that preceded Infante's homer. That turned a 3-2 game into a 5-2 game, and it was another instance of Perez getting a big hit when the Royals needed it. His production hasn't been the best — he's hitting .150 in the postseason — but he's certainly had his moments.

* * *

BILLY BUTLER PUTS THE ROYALS AHEAD
The man they affectionately call Country Breakfast, started the onslaught in the sixth inning. With runners at first and second with nobody out, the Giants brought in relief pitcher Jean Machi, praying for a double play. With Machi keeping a keen eye on the Royals runners, Butler singled over the head of shortstop Brandon Crawford to bring home Lorenzo Cain from second. That made the score 3-2. It was Butler's second RBI of the night. He had an RBI single in the first inning as well.

* * *

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BRANDON BELT'S BASERUNNING BLUNDER COSTS GIANTS
The Giants had a chance to break a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning, but a poor baserunning sequence ended their rally. Brandon Belt was on second base with one out after doubling and bringing home Pablo Sandoval. Michael Morse came up next and flew out to right field. When Nori Aoki made a wild throw back to the infield, Belt thought about dashing to third. But he was caught in the middle of the bases and thrown out when he tried to get back to second. Never a good way to end an inning.

* * *

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TIM LINCECUM ENTERS FOR MOP-UP DUTY
After the disastrous-for-the-Giants sixth inning, manager Bruce Bochy finally had a reason to call on Tim Lincecum, the infinitely interesting ex-Cy Young winner. Lincecum hadn't pitched at all in the postseason, but the Giants brought him in for mop-up duty in the seventh and eighth innings (better than what he was mopping up in Game 1). Lincecum was impressive after 24 days off — he pitched a perfect inning and two-thirds, but left with an apparent injury. If Lincecum is healthy, it could bring a different dynamic to the Giants' bullpen the rest of the series.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 23, 2014, 3:29 am
Tim Lincecum (in orange) with Tim Hudson at Kauffman Stadium on Monday. (AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For reasons only he knows for sure, Tim Lincecum was not being truthful when he tried explaining why he missed the San Francisco Giants introductions Tuesday night before Game 1 of the World Series.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday he was told that Lincecum was vomiting about a half-hour before the first pitch. Bochy said the Giants head athletic trainer, Dave Groeschner, knew about Lincecum's illness, and pitching coach Dave Righetti was aware, too. Bochy, who didn't find out Lincecum was feeling ill until the next day, said it was his understanding that he was ready to pitch in Game 1 if need be.

"He was OK to pitch," Bochy said. "So he didn't feel he had to tell me [about missing the introductions] at that point.

"That's the honest truth."

Perhaps, but it's a different story than the one Lincecum told the day before, when he was absent from the traditional introductions where both teams line up down the first- and third-base lines. Fortunately for the Giants, only the starting players for both teams were announced at the stadium and on TV. In another World Series at another time, it would have been a doubly embarrassing moment for Lincecum and the Giants for him to be announced and not appear.

After the Giants 7-1 victory against the Kansas City Royals in which he did not pitch, Lincecum made no reference to being ill when asked directly. Instead, Lincecum said he simply was late lining up with his teammates because he "was doing some stuff" in the trainer's room.

Perhaps the reason Lincecum lied was because of what happened the week of the 2008 All-Star game in New York City. Lincecum was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms and did not make it to Yankee Stadium for the game.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Lincecum began feeling ill Monday night and did not ride along with teammate Brian Wilson in an All-Star motorcade Tuesday morning. He was released from the hospital after receiving fluids, sources said.

There were rumors that Lincecum was taken from his Midtown hotel room on a stretcher, but Wilson doubted that was true.

“I’m pretty sure I would have heard about that,’’ Wilson said.

A respiratory ailment ripped through the Giants on their road trip last week to play the Mets and Cubs. Several players were limited or held out of action, including shortstop Omar Vizquel.

Additional speculation centered on Lincecum partying too much the night before the game. Perhaps the bad experience in New York moved him to make up a cover story this time. Regardless it's an odd way for Lincecum to behave.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 22, 2014, 11:50 pm

The San Francisco Giants came out swinging in Game 1 of the World Series, routing the Kansas City Royals and taking a 1-0 lead in the series. The Royals try to even things up in Game 2 at home, sending their young fireballer Yordano Ventura to the mound to face Giants vet Jake Peavy.

Can the Royals rekindle their postseason magic? Or will the Giants head to S.F. with a 2-0 lead. We'll find out soon enough. And the Yahoo Sports MLB crew — columnists Tim Brown and Jeff Passan, plus the bloggers from Big League Stew — will be serving up commentary from start to finish.

Use this handy Twitter tracker to follow the game with live commentary from our writers and other MLB experts.

MORE WORLD SERIES READING FROM BIG LEAGUE STEW
- Royals remain upbeat heading into Game 2 
Royals' Game 1 loss eerily similar to Rockies' loss in 2007
- Homeland Security raids K.C. store selling unlicensed World Series panties
Disappointing ratings for Game 1 of the World Series 
- Eight players to root for

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 22, 2014, 11:30 pm
 

Attention small-business owners and Major League Baseball fans: Think twice before you start production on your own line of unlicensed intimate apparel related to the World Series. If you push ahead anyway, Homeland Security might conduct a panty raid on your store.

That's what happened at Birdies Panties in Kansas City on Tuesday, when federal authorities "visited the Crossroads store and confiscated the few dozen pairs of underwear, printed in Kansas City by Lindquist Press," the K.C. Star reported Wednesday.

The seized panties — marketed as boy shorts — were to be available in blue and white, and said "Take the Crown" and "KC" along the bottom. They're still visible on the store's website, but the buying mechanism has been disabled.

It was the "KC" part that got Peregrine Honig of Birdies Panties into trouble.

She thought that since the underwear featured her hand-drawn design that she was safe. But the officers explained that by connecting the “K” and the “C,” she infringed on Major League Baseball [trademark].

[...]

They placed the underwear in an official Homeland Security bag and had Honig sign a statement saying she wouldn’t use the logo.

“We just thought it was something funny we could do,” Honig says of the panties. “But it was so scary.”

Honig added that the agents were friendly enough and relatively gentle, as if the feds on the scene felt like they were "kicking a puppy."

The bottom line — pause — it's just not legal to sell unlicensed underwear. MLB and the Royals need their cut, legally. Plus, there are issues with quality control — not that Birdies Panties doesn't manufacture great stuff, probably. We (as a nation?) just need to be sure that the shady fellow on the street corner selling "Royals" merchandise is on the up and up. And that the people in the right foreign countries are being exploited when they manufacture for pennies on the dollar the clothing we wear in the United States.

However, as the lawyerly folks over at Hardball Talk point out, it seems odd for Homeland Security to be conducting raids of this kind. After all, underpants are not terrorism.

[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that the unlicensed underwear was a violation of copyright.]

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 22, 2014, 8:42 pm

Hunter Pence hit a homer, Madison Bumgarner had another dominant outing and the San Francisco Giants took Game 1 of the World Series, but TV viewers weren't all that impressed.

According to overnight ratings, Game 1 of the 2014 World Series struck a new low. Neither the Cinderella story of the Kansas City Royals or the dynasty-in-the-making Giants seemed to captivate the nation, as the game finished with an 8.0 rating. That's worse than Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, when Game 1 got an 8.8 million overnight rating.

UPDATE: When the final numbers were determined, MLB said Wednesday afternoon the overall viewership for 2014's Game 1 beat 2012 — 12.5 milion vs. 12.2 million. The local ratings in Kansas City, according to MLB, were the highest of any Game 1 since 2007.

Nationally, however, given the Giants' blowout win, ratings slipped as the night went on. Here's John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:

World Series Game 1 pulled an 8.0 overnight, down nearly 15% from last year's World Series Game 1 (Red Sox-Cardinals).

— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) October 22, 2014

World Series overnight rating mainly was hurt by a non-competitive game. The end-of-game numbers are dismal: 6.3 rating from 11:30-11:45p.

— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) October 22, 2014

What else were people watching? Well, Nielsen pegs the Game 1 audience at 10.68 million viewers. That wasn't as much as "NCIS" (16.88 million), "The Voice" (11.50 million) or "NCIS: New Orleans" (15.87 million). Luckily, ABC's "Selfie" only managed 3.81 million viewers.

Baseball people will tell you to take ratings with a grain of salt. People have far more viewing options these days, so ratings don't tell the whole story. It's kind of like how every year album sales hit a new low. They're never going to be what they used to be. And, on the flip side, MLB continues to enjoy record revenues.

A couple worthwhile points from the Twittersphere: 

Here's what you have to look at with the WS ratings: it was a bad game between a team with little nat'l brand vs. one everyone's tired of.

— Steve Lepore (@stevelepore) October 22, 2014

Here come WS TV ratings nos. Down 15% from 2013. Remember: if MLB cared about ratings, it wouldn't cut deals for big $ w cable networks

— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) October 22, 2014

The more the postseason moves off the networks & ESPN, the fewer fans will watch, at least in short term. MLB chose the big $.

— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) October 22, 2014

Much like the Royals, we'll wait and see if things go better in Game 2.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 22, 2014, 6:18 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – What happens on the field during the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals is the central theme for MLB Productions annual World Series Film. But it sometimes isn't the main focus.

The film, which MLB says is the "definitive visual historical document of the World Series each year," began in 1943 as a way to inform troops overseas fighting in World War II about the baseball they had missed.

As MLB took over production of the film in 1998 and the explosion of instant information makes it almost impossible to not access the box score details of a World Series, the production focuses on the stories surrounding each team thanks to nearly unlimited and exclusive access.

Producers and camera crews can film right next to the batting cage during pre-game batting practice, have unlimited clubhouse access and have players wired for sound. If you're unfamiliar with the movie, think of it like baseball's postseason version of the HBO series "Hard Knocks" or the network's "24/7" franchise.

"And the foundation of [the access] is the deep relationships that we’ve fostered over the years," MLB Productions executive producer David Check said before Tuesday's World Series Game 1 that San Francisco won 7-1. "So you’re not going to hear any in-game wires other than what we’re doing. Or clubhouse access. Or driving to the ballpark with a player, being at the home of a player as he prepares for a World Series game or having a pregame meal."

But in a seven-game series, it's hard to identify immediately who the eventual champions will be. Executive producer Check said the crew essentially films parallel stories, one from the Royals' perspective and one from the Giants', until something defining emerges.

"We obviously know the backstories of both teams quite well at this point," Check said. "We've been with both teams in the championship series this year so we're well-acquainted with their stories. But we have to be nimble. Let's say, for example, if the Royals steal nine bases tonight. That's part of their game clearly, and we have to adapt accordingly. And the [Royals'] fan base is pretty charged for a championship … and that's going to be part of the story we tell. Obviously if the Giants win, that story will be muted to a degree, so we really have to be really nimble and very flexible."

(After all, if your team loses the World Series, you're probably not going to want the commemorative movie as much as if they win.)

A crew was with Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielder Jarrod Dyson as the two rode to Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday morning to offer a look at how the two were preparing for their first World Series game.

"Letting those guys rap, stop for coffee, and I just kind of threw some questions at them while we were driving to try to generate some conversation between them," MLB field producer Danny Field said. "And that was really cool because the connection they have with this town is real. And I think they embrace it more than some places. It’s really special."

Since MLB Productions has access to the Fox broadcast of the World Series games, its camera crews have freedom to focus on specific aspects of the games as they're being played. One camera crew may focus on fans during a particularly tense moment or a speedy baserunner like Dyson who may be trying to steal second base or a player who retreats to the batting cage during an inning to get some practice swings.

The crews capture approximately 20 hours of footage from each game, and that's not counting any interviews with players before or after games. After a postgame meeting and a morning conference call, the footage immediately starts being edited the next day. MLB Productions has just nine days from the conclusion of the World Series to produce the 75-to-95-minute film.

And while the story of Game 1 was the Royals' first loss of the postseason and the dominance of Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, the direction of the series could change in Game 2. So the video team is willing to quickly adapt its focus on the characters involved to whatever happens on the field, just like in 2005.

While the Chicago White Sox' sweep of the Houston Astros that season may not have been a thrilling seven-game series, the crew's access and ability to film almost everything was vital in framing White Sox utility infielder Geoff Blum's pinch-hit home run in the 14th inning of Game 3. It was Blum's only career World Series at-bat.

"One of my favorite stories is from the 2005 World Series, and the Astros and White Sox, and Geoff Blum is in the batting cage and we just decided to go in and, who knows, he might get an at-bat," Check said. "And those elements of him honing his swing and getting ready for his one chance was a great setup for what ultimately happened."

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: October 22, 2014, 5:30 pm
(@CJZero)

Actor Paul Rudd isn't the only Kansas City celebrity reveling in the Royals' long-awaited return to the World Series. Another of Kansas City's famous entertainers — albeit in a very different field — was front and center at Game 1 of the World Series.

[Photos: Best of World Series Game 1 - Giants at Royals]

Tech N9ne, the rapper who very proudly hails from Kansas City, was on national TV all night, because he was sitting right behind home plate. He was dressed in all black Royals gear, sitting just a few seats down from Marlins Man.

Tech N9ne marveled at his view on Instagram, but noted that he paid $6,000 for his ticket. His Strange Music business partner Travis O'Guin was there with him, as was fellow K.C. emcee Krizz Kaliko. That's a cool $18,000 in World Series tickets.

[Related: Fan brings 47-inch moose antlers to cheer on Royals' Mike Moustakas]

Here's the video he posted. Warning: He says a swear word.

If you're not familiar with Tech N9ne, he's an "underground" rapper with a cult following. He's not signed to a major record label, rather he founded and runs his own record label, Strange Music. Obviously, business is going pretty well over at Strange Music.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 22, 2014, 7:19 am

We all cope with disappointment in our own ways, so some people in the Kansas City area might double down on sadness by switching their TVs from the Kansas City Royals' Game 1 World Series loss to a news update about a dead body.

But that's probably not the best way to advertise your newscast.

[Photos: Best of World Series Game 1 - Giants at Royals]

KCTV learned that Tuesday night, when it sent out the ill-advised tweet below.

Oh, sweet RT @KCTV5: Need a break from the game? Watch our 10 p.m. news for the latest on a body found in the Little Blue River & more.

— Gabe Lacques (@GabeLacques) October 22, 2014

The tweet was understandably deleted by the station, but preserved in manual retweet form by Gabe Lacques. The Royals were pretty cold tonight, but a dead body? KCTV soon recognized its tweet was distasteful, then apologized and tried again.

We worded that previous tweet horribly and we are very sorry. It has been deleted.

— KCTV5 - Kansas City (@KCTV5) October 22, 2014

Need a break from the game? Watch our 10 p.m. news for the latest on this nice stretch of weather! http://t.co/23M4vI7v4k

— KCTV5 - Kansas City (@KCTV5) October 22, 2014

The Royals and KCTV do have this much in common — they'd be happy with a do-over.

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Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 22, 2014, 6:02 am
(AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A tradition like few others in sports, the base-line introductions at the World Series often are good for riling up the stadium crowd. It's also fun to see who gets booed, who gets cheered and how much.

Only the starting players for the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals were introduced on Fox TV before Game 1 on Tuesday night, and it's a good thing for Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum. He missed the introductions because of unspecified matters inside of the visitor's clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium.

[Photos: Best of World Series Game 1 - Giants at Royals]

(USA Today)"I just didn't make it down in time," Lincecum said after the game. "I didn't want to run out there in the middle of everybody else getting introduced. That was just ... it."

The Giants beat the Royals 7-1, getting a leg up on their third championship since 2010. As they have done for the entire postseason run starting with the National League wild-card game, the Giants won without Lincecum, who has not pitched since the regular season.

Lincecum and the Giants would have been more embarrassed if the public-address announcer called his name and he wasn't there. In the old days, every player, coach and staff member (along with, perhaps, their families) would be mentioned on the ballpark loudspeakers — and it was all televised on TV live.

Later in the game, TV cameras showed Lincecum sitting in the Giants bullpen, but he got no closer to the action.

[Related: Who's that Marlins fan sitting behind home plate during Game 1?]

It was noticed that Lincecum wasn't out there for the introductions, so speculation ran around, if not amok, as to why.

"Did the Giants not want him out there wearing a hoodie?" and questions of that nature could be found on Twitter, and perhaps elsewhere.

"No, it was nothing more than I just wasn't down there in time," Lincecum said.

Was he in the bathroom? Hey, it happens.

"No, I was doing some stuff in the training room," the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner said. 

"Doing some stuff." That's it? That's the explanation? Oh, Timmy.

It's the kind of thing that might earn a fine the next time the club does a "kangaroo court," but it's also possible Lincecum's transgression will be overlooked just because it's the playoffs.

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 22, 2014, 5:41 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night gave the Kansas City Royals something that hadn't happened since Sept. 27. A loss.

But members of the team weren't willing to dwell very long on the 7-1 defeat that broke the Royals' eight-game postseason winning streak. Players quickly turned their attention to Wednesday's Game 2 against San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jake Peavy, a man the Royals know very well.

"We've got no choice but to bounce back," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's pretty hard to sweep through the whole playoffs. ... I don't think it's ever been close to being done. We've gotta bounce back. Same way you take a good win and enjoy it and forget about it, you do the same thing with a tough loss. You forget about it, get ready to go back tomorrow and even it up and head back to San Francisco."

[Related: Giants end Royals' streak with 7-1 victory in World Series opener]

In the wild-card era, no team has gone undefeated in the playoffs. Only the 2005 Chicago White Sox and 1999 New York Yankees have made it through with one loss.

From 2010-13, as a member of the White Sox and Boston Red Sox, Peavy has faced the Royals 11 times. (He didn't face the Royals in 2014 before being traded to the San Francisco Giants and didn't pitch when the Giants played Kansas City in August.)

In those 11 starts, Peavy, who has a 3.45 career ERA against Kansas City, has faced many of the players in the Royals lineup. Five Royals starters have more than 20 plate appearances against the 33-year-old right-hander.

[Photos: Best of World Series Game 1 - Giants at Royals]

"We've faced Peavy a lot when he was playing with other clubs and we're comfortable with what he's got, but again, he's a great pitcher, you can't take those guys lightly," third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "He's capable of going out and having a big game."

Last year, while pitching for the Red Sox in the World Series, Peavy made his first World Series start in Game 3 at St. Louis. He made it four innings, giving up six hits and two runs while walking one and striking out four in a 5-4 St. Louis win. He said his trip to last year's postseason and Boston's six-game win over St. Louis made the desire to win a(nother) World Series stronger.

"When you win one, as I was so fortunate to be able to last year, you would think that would quench you," Peavy said. "It actually made it worse. We talked about that a lot in Boston this year. You really can't settle for anything less, and nothing else is acceptable. You want something so bad, you achieve it, and you can't put into words how bad you want more."

The pitcher for the Royals will be Yordano Ventura, the team's flame-throwing rookie who sparkled in the American League Division Series but struggled in the American League Championship Series. Against the Los Angeles Angels, he gave up a run on five hits and a walk while striking out five in seven innings.

Against the Baltimore Orioles, Ventura struggled with his control and pulled himself out of the game in the sixth inning because of shoulder tightness. He gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings against the Orioles.

When asked if there were any concerns about Ventura's shoulder heading into Wednesday night, Royals manager Ned Yost was emphatic.

"No, no, no, no," Yost said. "His side sessions have been absolutely dynamite. He's a kid with tremendous composure. He's a tremendous competitor, even for as young as he is. I can't recall too many pitchers in my career that have his type of composure, his type of confidence and his type of stuff at that young an age."

[Related: Fan brings 47-inch moose antlers to cheer on Royals' Mike Moustakas]

But the composure of Ventura and the rest of the team could be tested Wednesday night if the Giants score early again. In Game 1, San Francisco was up 3-0 before the Royals had a chance to come to the plate. Another start like that could lead to thoughts of a possible 2-0 deficit and the looming trip to San Francisco.

The Giants "came out like they hadn't had any off days," Royals pitcher Jason Frasor said. "They came out hot, they came out swinging. We have to win four out of six, coming off winning eight in a row. We can do it. We better do it. But we're a loose clubhouse. There's no nervousness. I still like us. I still like the Royals and we're going to be all right."

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: October 22, 2014, 5:33 am

The Kansas City Royals were dealt their first postseason setback in Game 1 of the World Series, falling 7-1 to the Madison Bumgarner- and Hunter Pence-led San Francisco Giants at a boisterous Kauffman Stadium.

The lopsided result wasn't what they had in mind, obviously, and it was a bit surprising given the unstoppable roll it appeared they were on coming in. The Royals, who are looking for their first world championship since 1985, set an MLB record by winning their first eight postseason games, including the AL wild-card game. Given the franchise's championship drought and the relative ease with which they were able to dispatch the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles, they were obviously the story coming into Game 1 and in many circles were considered the favorites until proven otherwise.

Unfortunately, at least through one game, it was proven otherwise. The Royals' story actually more closely resembled another recent Cinderella story gone wrong in the World Series. That would be the 2007 Colorado Rockies, who like Kansas City streaked to World Series by winning seven straight games in the postseason and 21 of 22 overall dating back to the regular season, but were quickly brought back to earth in a 13-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 1. 

Though it wasn't quite the drubbing Colorado experienced, there were still some eerie similarities, both glaring and subtle, between the two results.

• Long layoff at the worst time: In 2007, the Rockies swept through the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks and then sat idly by for the next nine days while the Red Sox and Cleveland Indians went seven games in the ALCS. The Royals were only off for five days, compared to four for San Francisco. It's not a Royals excuse or necessarily even a legit excuse to begin with, but any such layoff is awkward and can prove disruptive in October. 

• First-inning woes: Like the Rockies, Kansas City was down 3-0 in the first inning before the national anthem could stop reverberating through the stadium. Hunter Pence capped San Francisco's rally with a two-run homer off James Shields. Dustin Pedroia greeted Jeff Francis with a homer in 2007, and then Boston sent seven more to the plate. 

James Shields walks off the mound in the after being relieved in the fourth inning. (USA TODAY Sports)• Short starts: It was a long night for both bullpens, which is never how you want to start a series. Shields pitched into the fourth on Tuesday, allowing five runs on seven hits. Francis completed four innings for Colorado, allowing six runs on 10 hits. Franklin Morales followed up by allowing seven runs in two-thirds of an inning, so at least Kansas City's Danny Duffy avoided that mess. 

• Ran into buzzsaws: Madison Bumgarner is the last pitcher anyone wants to see in the 2014 postseason. He showed why again in Game 1, working seven innings of one-run ball. It was the first run Bumgarner had allowed in 21 2/3 World Series innings. In 2007, the buzzsaw was named Josh Beckett. He too allowed one run in seven innings after entering the start with a 1.17 ERA in three postseason starts. 

The 2007 Rockies were ultimately swept and outscored 29-10.  

Scary similarities aside, this is not a Royals team that seems destined for a similar fate. They've come too far and are playing too well to just wilt away. Also, there's very little if any talent discrepancy between them and San Francisco, whereas the 2007 Red Sox were a far deeper team than Colorado. 

It's one game. No one should overreact. No one should panic. But Royals' fans should hope for a more competitive Game 2. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

Author: Mark Townsend
Posted: October 22, 2014, 5:01 am

The World Series' return to Kansas City wasn't nearly as happy as Royals fans were hoping. The San Francisco Giants routed the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series, winning the game 7-1 and snapping K.C.'s eight-game winning streak this postseason.

Madison Bumgarner turned in another dominating playoff performance, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball. The Giants jumped on Royals starter James Shields early, scoring three in the first inning. Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence each had two hits and two RBIs for the Giants. The Kauffman Stadium crowd, loud and happy at the start, ended the night disappointed.

Here are five key moments from Game 1:

Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence led the Giants' offense in a 7-1 Game 1 win. (AP)

1. HUNTER PENCE'S FIRST INNING HOMER
Hunter Pence hadn't homered in the 2014 postseason, but he quickly changed that in Game 1 of the World Series, taking Shields deep in the first inning. The homer also scored Pablo Sandoval, who had just doubled in a run. Pence's two-run homer put the Giants up 3-0.

* * *

2. MADISON BUMGARNER WIGGLES OUT OF THE THIRD
The third inning was the only time the Royals mounted anything resembling a rally against Bumgarner. Omar Infante reached on an error to start the inning. Mike Moustakas followed with a double. Bumgarner then struck out the next two batters. He then walked Lorenzo Cain, loading the bases for Eric Hosmer. Kauffman Stadium was wishing it could come unglued by a big hit, but Hosmer bounced out to second base.

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3. DANNY DUFFY COMES IN AND WALKS IN A RUN
The Royals called on Danny Duffy in the fourth inning, once Shields was lifted. Duffy was one of their best starters in the regular season, but had pitched only one inning as a reliever in the postseason. He had some late-season injury concerns. Anyhow, Duffy came in with two runners on. After a Juan Perez sacrifice bunt, Duffy walked Brandon Crawford to load the bases, then he walked Gregor Blanco to bring home a run. That made the score 5-0 and pretty much spelled the end for the Royals.

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4. JOE PANIK DOES IT AGAIN
Rookie Joe Panik came through with another big hit for the Giants. In the seventh, with Blanco on first, Panik tripled past a diving/tumbling/falling Nori Aoki in right field. It was Panik's 12th hit and sixth RBI of the postseason. Not bad for a 23-year-old.

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5. SALVADOR PEREZ GETS THE ROYALS ON THE BOARD
Salvador Perez — the sweet-smelling Royals catcher — got K.C. its first run of the World Series. It was too little, too late, but this post could use a Royals highlight, couldn't it? Perez took Bumgarner deep in the seventh inning for a solo homer that made the score 7-1.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 22, 2014, 3:41 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Royals fans chanting "Moose" every time third baseman Mike Moustakas comes up to bat or makes a play in the field has become commonplace since Moustakas played his first game in the major leagues.

Bringing almost four-foot tall moose antlers to the ballpark in honor of Moustakas is not common.

It's what Craig Rookstool did Tuesday at World Series Game 1, and yes, they got through security without issue.

But first, a little backstory. No, they're not real. They're actually pretty light. Two pounds each. Rookstool bought them off Cabela's site and had them shipped overnight so he could have them at Game 1. He's been a season-ticket holder for two years and he and his wife took a liking to Moustakas because his playing style reminded them of a kid they knew in a youth baseball league. As the Royals played well, the fandom of Moustakas took off.

[Related: Giants end Royals' streak with 7-1 victory in World Series opener]

But back to the logistics. Rookstool said he simply yelled "Mooooooooose" and thanks to his familiarity with other season-ticket members around him when he was entering the stadium, the antlers didn't get confiscated before he got to his seat.

However, once he was at his seat, Rookstool said there had to be some bargaining done to keep the antlers. He said he was approached by a member of the Royals' staff who said Major League Baseball had seen the antlers and wasn't a big fan of them. Rookstool wanted to be cooperative and said he'd do whatever he was told.

"I still said whatever you want to do, I'll be compliant with whatever you ask me to do. He said 'OK, they haven't said put them away yet,' so he started to walk away and I grabbed him and I said this 'How about only when Moustakas comes up to bat, otherwise I'll keep them safe.'"

A deal was struck. He'd only hold them on his head when Moustakas was up. But if a Moustakas home run happened, Rookstool made no promises.

"I did tell him 'Now if Moose jacks one out, you may have to contain me,'" he said.

[Photos: Best of World Series Game 1 - Giants at Royals]

The antlers also arrived at Kauffman Stadium in an unusual way. Rookstool has a Toyota four-wheeler decked out in Royals decals and painted Royals blue. He wanted to bring it to the game, so he put it on a trailer and parked his truck and trailer at a nearby church. From there, he drove the four-wheeler to the stadium with the antlers mounted on a fake skull near the windshield.

Once the four-wheeler was in the stadium parking lot, Rookstool said kids had fun looking at it and sitting in it. They drove around members of the military who were in attendance as fans prepared for the first Royals World Series game in 29 years. And yes, Rookstool was in attendance in 1985 He said he was sitting up in the upper deck.

"It really isn't about us or the buggy or the antlers, this team absolutely does grind it out," Rookstool said. "They represent my lifestyle to just work hard and get it done, and work as a team and that's what fires me up."

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Author: Nick Bromberg
Posted: October 22, 2014, 3:19 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For a moment in the bottom of the third inning Tuesday night, the Kansas City Royals seemed to have Madison Bumgarner in a bind. It turns out that he was just leading them on.

Bumgarner pitched around a defensive miscue by Brandon Crawford, along with an apparent mistake of his own to Mike Moustakas — who hit a double — and later a walk to load the bases. The Royals came away with nothing, and the San Francisco Giants rolled to a 7-1 victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

"He bowed his neck and made some great pitches to get out if it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Bumgarner.

Fox's sensitive field microphones picked up every sound coming from Bumgarner, who grunted his way through seven effective innings, allowing a run, three hits and one walk. A home run by Kansas City's Salvador Perez broke up a shutout in the seventh, and ended a couple of remarkable streaks Bumgarner had been riding.

[World Series: Hunter Pence's homer helps Giants jump on James Shields early]

Bumgarner had gone 21 2/3 innings over three career starts in the World Series without allowing a run. He also had a major league record of 32 2/3 scoreless postseason innings on the road snapped.

"First of all, my teammates pick me up way more often than I get a chance to pick them up," Bumgarner said. "Those strikeout situations, we were going for them and trying to keep [Kansas City] off the board. That's nice, one of my favorite things to be able to do in baseball is work through a situation like that one."

As for the records, and the scoreless streaks:

(AP)

 "I don't care," Bumgarner said. "I'm not here trying to set records or keep streaks going, but you do know about them. A World Series game is not something you easily forget, but it tonight, it was the last thing on my mind."

The streaks would have been over sooner, and the game's outcome might have been different, if Bumgarner hadn't gotten through the bottom of the third so pristinely.

Trying to rally from three runs down, the Royals put runners in scoring position to start the inning. Crawford booted a grounder by Omar Infante for an error on a play he usually makes, and Moustakas doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Bumgarner struck out Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki — and made them look terrible in the process — and walked Lorenzo Cain in a fun confrontation. 

[World Series: Five key moments from Giants' 7-1 win over Royals]

On the next pitch, Eric Hosmer hit a weak grounder to second and the Royals' best threat was snuffed out.

"We didn't get any runs there, and we can't leave runners on base especially against a team like that," Hosmer said. "Their bullpen and the way their pitching staff is, every opportunity we get to cash in we have to take advantage of it. And we've been doing that up to this point."

Few are able to do it against Bumgarner, especially in October.

"I've thought of Bum as a No. 1 [ace] for quite a while," Bochy said. "I've felt like, ever since he came up in 2010, that he was that type of pitcher. His stuff. His makeup. That hasn't changed."

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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Author: David Brown
Posted: October 22, 2014, 3:16 am

The random Miami Marlins fan is back, with the best seat in the house. pic.twitter.com/vfTr4DjmQ0

— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) October 22, 2014

The World Series returned to Kansas City on Tuesday night for the first time in 29 years and sitting right behind home plate, in an otherwise sea of blue, was a guy wearing a bright orange Miami Marlins jacket and a Marlins visor he sometimes turned to the side.

Lots of people watching at home had the same reaction: Who the heck is that guy and why is he wearing Marlins gear? Fair questions. Believe it or not, he's a somewhat famous traveling fan and the Marlins gear is basically his uniform.

His name is Laurence Leavy and it looks like he has a pretty sweet life. He was recently at the ALCS. He was at the World Series two years ago. He was at the NBA Finals last year. During Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night, so many people were talking about Leavy that it made the Marlins a trending topic on Twitter and he spawned a parody Twitter account — @WSVisorGuy.

Leavy actually has a real Twitter account. He's @Marlins_Man, and he documents many of his travels there. He always wears the same gear so people know it's him. He's posted pics with Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Cabrera in addition to shots of himself being spotted by TV cameras.

I am not that fat. Wearing 3 layers of clothes pic.twitter.com/WnHvUMwvej

— Marlins Man (@Marlins_Man) October 17, 2014

TV found me again pic.twitter.com/EnIIG4Sf7Z

— Marlins Man (@Marlins_Man) June 13, 2014

World Series ends. I am in orange pic.twitter.com/oMT8pRof

— Marlins Man (@Marlins_Man) October 29, 2012

At the 2012 World Series, Amy K. Nelson tracked down Leavy and wrote about him at SB Nation. He told Nelson he is a Marlins fan first, one of the originals, in fact, but he'll travel for big baseball games:

"I'm a season ticket holder," he said in 2012. "I was in New York for the Yankees games [for the ALCS]. I was all over. I just love baseball. I wear the same thing, everywhere I go."

To prove his Marlins fandom, Leavy had a Marlins car custom made this year. 

pic.twitter.com/rMGZiJ67Hb

— Marlins Man (@Marlins_Man) June 1, 2014

Might not be everybody's style, but you can't fault his loyalty.

Your natural inclination when you first saw the Marlins fan behind home plate during Game 1 of the World Series might have been to laugh at him. But if you're a sports fan, now that you know his story, don't you wish you were him?

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 22, 2014, 2:39 am

This sure beats getting tipped 15 percent: A waiter at a restaurant near Kansas City was handed a ticket to Game 1 of the World Series as a tip.

The customer? Katelyn Davis, wife of Kansas City Royals pitcher Wade Davis, the team's lockdown, eighth-inning reliever. 

KMBC-TV in Kansas City says some of the Royals' wives hang out at Rock & Brews in Overland Park, which is 20 miles away from the stadium. That's where Davis was Tuesday afternoon before Game 1 when she gave a ticket to Ryan O'Connor, now the luckiest waiter in the country.

(USA TODAY Sports)Via KMBC

"I started to walk away when I dropped off their check after they paid, and they said 'Hold on, I was going to give you a tip, but instead we thought you might want this," O'Connor said. "And they said, 'you're going to sit with us, we're a pretty cool family.' "

"He was pretty blown away, a little bit shocked," said Rock & Brews employee Justin Olmstead.  "He came back into the office and said, 'Do you guys mind if I have the night off?' And we looked at him, and he showed us the ticket he had in his hand.  And we were blown away ourselves that he was able to have that given to him tonight.  So we definitely accommodated him and let him have the night off to go celebrate with all the fans at the game tonight."

Just how much is that tip worth on the open market? Well, according to SeatGeek, tickets were selling for an average of $955 on the secondary market as recently as Monday. So yeah, much better than 15 percent.

The San Francisco Giants spoiled Kansas City's grand return to the World Series with a 7-1 win. That had to dampen O'Connor's night a bit, but hey, it's not like he paid for the ticket. Some people paid as much as $6,000 for prime seats.

Imagine how bummed they were to see the Royals lose. 

BLS H/N: SB Nation

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz

Author: Mike Oz
Posted: October 22, 2014, 1:02 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An 11-day layoff might have made right-hander James Shields not as sharp in Game 1 of the World Series as he would have liked early on. The San Francisco Giants jumped on him for three runs and five hits in the top of the first inning Tuesday night to take a quick lead on the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

 The big blow was a 403-foot home run to center by Hunter Pence, a two-run shot for his second career postseason homer. Here's full video of it.

Earlier in the inning, Pablo Sandoval lined an RBI double to right that scored Gregor Blanco, but couldn't score Buster Posey — because he was nailed at the plate 9-4-3 on a relay by Omar Infante, after an aggressive send by third-base coach Tim Flannery.

[Photos: Best of World Series Game 1 - Giants at Royals]

Blanco led off the game with a single to center and advanced to second on a long fly ball to the gap in left-center by Joe Panik. Posey followed with a sharp single to left, and Flannery did not test the arm of outfielder Alex Gordon, who was fifth in the majors among left fielders with eight outfield assists.

Pence's blast, making it 3-0, came one batter after Sandoval had put the Giants in front.

The Royals are playing in their first World Series since 1985, and the Giants are trying for their third championship since 2010.

(AP)

 Shields came in with a 5.63 ERA in three postseason starts this year, along with a 5.19 ERA in nine starts for his career. It was found that Shields had passed a kidney stone during the American League Championship Series, though he would not blame the experience — which he called excruciating — for his poor results. The Royals had considered using Shields in the Game 4 ALCS clincher against the Orioles, but pushed him back to give him extra rest. He was pitching for the first time since Oct. 10 in Game 1 of the ALCS.

Shields is nicknamed "Big Game James," and he does own the only World Series victory in Tampa Bay Rays history, coming in 2008.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

Follow @AnswerDave 

Author: David Brown
Posted: October 22, 2014, 12:46 am

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