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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

World Series: A Perfect Start for San Francisco

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 8:20 AM

A number of Giants fans likely don't know much about the Kansas City Royals (other than, if you squint your eyes, their uniforms look just like the Dodgers').

After last night's utterly dominating Giants win, they still don't. The Royals essentially didn't show up to play, leaving the uninformed National League fan as oblivious as ever.

Kansas City's  fleet-footed outfielders watched balls fly past them and over their heads — notably Hunter Pence's crowd-silencing, two-run home run in the first inning. The Royals' speed-demon hitters couldn't touch Madison Bumgarner, registering only three hits and one run on a late homer. And KC's heralded bullpen was tapped early, as starter James Shields exited abruptly, falling behind 5-0 in only three innings. 

In short, Game 1 couldn't have gone any better for the Giants. Following San Francisco's thorough 7-1 victory, a fire hose of statistics was loosed upon those hoping to prolong the moment. Among them was a reminder that, in recent decades, a slight majority of teams winning Game 1 of the World Series on the road have actually gone on to lose the whole thing. 

And that's an interesting stat. Until you think about it. Would it have been better for the Giants to lose last night? Because that just wasn't going to happen. 

Right now, there's just no beating Madison Bumgarner, unless the contest is "meaningful postgame interview." There, he's vulnerable. On the mound, he's not. Hitters flailed away helplessly at his mix of fastballs, cutters, and the occasional lollipop curve. An error and a double in the third inning gave Kansas City a second and third situation with nobody out. But Bumgarner reared back for a pair of strikeouts, and, after walking Lorenzo Cain, he induced Eric Hosmer to ground out meekly. 

And that really was that. 

In a series matching two streaky, sub-90-win teams, it's damn near impossible to predict what'll come next. The Royals had won eight consecutive playoff games, but, let the record show, Bumgarner hadn't pitched in any of those. That matters. The Giants, meanwhile, didn't need any opposing throwing errors or other great subtleties to win. They banged out those seven runs on 10 hits, and were also the beneficiaries of six walks. 

So, that was Game 1. But a World Series is about depth more than flash and the starting rotation's talent drops precipitously when Bumgarner lurks on the bench. Today's 5 p.m. matchup features 23-year-old fireballer Yordano Ventura against human reclamation project Jake Peavy. During an in-game graphic last night, both pitchers were featured, on a loop, staring at the camera while, endlessly, punching their hands into their baseball mitts. 

After 20 second of punching your hand into your mitt, things grow a bit tedious. Alert viewers could detect Ventura's eyes glancing off-screen, perhaps at a director, and perhaps to query "can I stop doing this now?" 

So, Peavy won that matchup, the same way either pitcher would best Bumgarner in an interview-off 

But the real contest begins tonight, on the field. It's anyone's game. And anyone's Series. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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