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Royals Vs. Giants In Wild(-Card) World Series03:46
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With a dramatic walk-off home run from Travis Ishikawa (center), the San Francisco Giants punched their ticket to the World Series. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
With a dramatic walk-off home run from Travis Ishikawa (center), the San Francisco Giants punched their ticket to the World Series. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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On Wednesday night, the Kansas City Royals celebrated their sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series and their first World Series berth since 1985.

More remarkable than the fact that the Royals will be in the World Series is the route they've taken to get there. They've won a record eight consecutive games to start the postseason, many of them in unlikely fashion. One night after the Royals advanced, as if not to be outdone, the San Francisco Giants rode their walk-off victory in Game 5 of the NLCS to the World Series.

Something really special is happening here, and it's happening right in front of our eyes.

Tim Kurkjian, ESPN

This coming Tuesday, for the first time ever, two wild-card game winners will meet in the World Series.

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the Giants' and Royals' place in the ongoing history of Fall Classic long shots.

BL: The Royals have not been in the World Series in 29 years. What else about that team has you, and just about everybody else, so excited?

TK: Well, Bill, first off, they have a great bullpen that just shuts the game down completely from the seventh inning on. Their bullpen, since the start of the ALDS, has a 0.96 ERA. The second thing is, their defense is the best in the major leagues, showing again that bullpen and defense and a little bit of magic can take you a long way.

BL: For any kid who dreamed of getting the ball in the World Series, the Royals are maybe more accessible than any team in recent memory. What do you think?

[sidebar title="MLB's Collision Rule" width="630" align="right"] This year, MLB implemented Rule 7.13 to help protect catchers from injury. But as OAG's Doug Tribou reports, the rollout wasn't exactly a home run. [/sidebar]

TK: Bill, I haven't seen a celebration like this in a town in quite some time. After they clinched Game 4, I went as part of a story to a place called McFadden's in Kansas City, where there were thousands of people waiting for the Royal players. It was unbelievable when they showed up, the ovation they got.

And of course this is the same place that Eric Hosmer, first baseman for the Royals, came in after they had swept the [Los Angeles] Angels and picked up the bar tab for everybody in there. It was like $17,000! This connection between the Royals players and the city — I'm not sure it's anything I've seen in the 35 years that I've been covering.

BL: The Giants boast World Series victories as recently as 2010 and 2012. Is that recent success detracting even a little bit from the Giants' run in this postseason?

[sidebar title="MLB Playoffs, In Pictures" width="630" align="right"] Earlier this week, Only A Game compiled some of the best pictures from the postseason so far. [/sidebar]TK: No, Bill. I think it's enhancing it for this reason. At one point they had scored 22 runs in the postseason, and 12 of them had come without benefit of a hit to drive in those runs. Think about it — it's remarkable what the Giants are doing.

And just when you think they're never going to hit another home run, they hit three in their decisive Game 5 against the [St. Louis] Cardinals, and the last one was hit by Travis Ishikawa, who hit the first walk-off home run of his career. And of course it's the first walk-off home run to take the Giants to the World Series since Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951. You could not make this stuff up.

BL: With the way that they came back against Oakland, and then dispatched the Angels and the Orioles, have the Royals convinced you that they simply have "the force" on their side?

TK: Yes, Bill. The way that they somehow got out of a four-run deficit and beat the A's in the wild-card game and then to have swept the Orioles, who've never been swept in a postseason series ever, and to do it with one-run wins — something really special is happening here, and it's happening right in front of our eyes.

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This segment aired on October 18, 2014.

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