Giants, Royals ready for wild World Series finish

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Bumgarner Pitches Giants To World Series Win


By ANTONIO GONZALEZ

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Madison Bumgarner barely broke a smile walking around the San Francisco Giants' clubhouse late Sunday night following a brilliant pitching performance that has his team one win from another World Series title.

After the way this October has played out, who can blame him?

The Giants will try to close out the Royals and claim their third championship in five years Tuesday night when this wild-card series shifts back to baseball's most unlikely postseason destination: Kansas City.

"We know it's not over until you get that fourth game. These guys aren't going to change," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, whose club leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Perhaps it's only fitting this Fall Classic ends at Kauffman Stadium, a place hosting playoff baseball for the first time in 29 years. The Royals started this pulsating postseason with a 9-8 comeback win in 12 innings over Oakland in the AL wild-card game, which began on the last day of September and ended near midnight.

That captivating night in Kansas City set the stage for a month to remember: tight games and dramatic finishes, favorites falling and underdogs overachieving, stars slipping and new ones shining.

What happens next is anybody's guess. After all, the last time Game 6 of the Fall Classic came to Kansas City, one of the most surreal scenes in baseball history unfolded: first base umpire Don Denkinger's botched call serving as the signature moment of the 1985 World Series won by the Royals over St. Louis.

"We know we can do it," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We're a confident group. But we can't do anything without winning Game 6. We're excited to get back home where we feed off the fans and that energy."

Jake Peavy starts for San Francisco and Yordano Ventura goes for the Royals - a surprising matchup at this stage of October in most years, just not this one.

The majors' most notable names during the regular season - Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Angels slugger Mike Trout - flamed out fast in the Division Series. A trio of Cy Young winners didn't do enough for Detroit. Injuries slowed down former triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

Even playoff-proven starter Jon Lester looked lost under October's bright lights for the one-and-done Athletics, and up-and-coming starter Stephen Strasburg showed he still has to polish his postseason poise for the Nationals.

Instead, these playoffs bred a new batch of baseball darlings: Lorenzo Cain and the running Royals, starter-turned-reliever Yusmeiro Petit and a pair of blazing bullpens that no longer overlooked in the World Series.

Of course, no star has burned brighter than a 25-year-old lefty from North Carolina teammates call "MadBum."

Bumgarner's winning performances in Game 1 and Game 5 - not to mention in every previous round of the playoffs - has put San Francisco one win away from for another parade down Market Street, something Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and generations of Giants fans had dreamed of for so long.

Now it's becoming an every-other-year tradition.

"It's not going to be easy at all," Giants first baseman Brandon Belt said. "It matters that we know that, and I think everybody on this team knows that. We're going to go out there and we're not going to let up. We can't, because if we do they're going to take advantage of it."

Royals rookie Brandon Finnegan might understand the topsy-turvy nature of these playoffs better than anyone.

Only four months after he pitched in the College World Series, the 21-year-old reliever got two key outs in the seventh inning to help Kansas City win Game 3. A night later, Finnegan failed to bridge the gap to the back end of the bullpen, allowing five runs in Kansas City's 11-4 loss to San Francisco.

"Baseball can pick you up quickly," Finnegan said, "and hit you in the gut quickly."

Sometimes longer and harder than others.

The Giants' latest improbable postseason run was propelled by the longest game in playoff history, a 2-1 win in 18 innings over the Nationals in Game 2 of the NL Division Series. Travis Ishikawa, a journeyman and first baseman converted to a left fielder in San Francisco, hit a three-run shot off St. Louis' Michael Wacha in the Game 5 clincher of the NL Championship Series.

It was the first homer to send the Giants to the World Series since perhaps the most famous drive in baseball history - Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard `Round the World" in a 1951 playoff against the Dodgers.

The showings in this fall will surely earn some a big payday come winter. Royals right-hander James Shields and San Francisco's slugging third baseman Pablo Sandoval are among those headed for free agency.

For now those transactions are on hold. One, maybe two, of the season's biggest games await.

"The place is going to be absolutely crazy," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We feel good about our matchups. We've got to walk the tightrope now without a net, but our guys aren't afraid of walking the tightrope without a net. We fall off and we're dead. But we win Tuesday, nobody's got a net. It's going to be winner-take-all."

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Giants, Royals ready for wild World Series finish
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24: Greg Holland #56 of the Kansas City Royals pitches in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24: Greg Holland #56 of the Kansas City Royals pitches in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24: Greg Holland #56 of the Kansas City Royals pitches in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24: Greg Holland #56 of the Kansas City Royals fields a ball hit by Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning for the final out during Game Three of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24: Greg Holland #56 of the Kansas City Royals underhands the ball for the final out in the ninth inning during Game Three of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals' Greg Holland throws to first for the final out on San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence during the ninth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals won the game 3-2 to lead the series 2-1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer celebrates after San Francisco Giants Hunter Pence grounded out to end Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals defeated the Giants 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24: Eric Hosmer #35 and Greg Holland #56 of the Kansas City Royals celebrate the Royals 3-2 victory against the San Francisco Giants during Game Three of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants Hunter Pence walks back to the dugout after grounding out in the ninth inning to the end Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals defeated the Giants 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
The Kansas City Royals celebrate after their 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals lead the series 2-1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer (35) celebrate after Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals won 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates after the Royals' 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals lead the series 2-1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
The Kansas City Royals celebrate after their 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals lead the series 2-1. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon (4) celebrates with teammates after Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. The Royals won 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo throws during the seventh inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo throws during the seventh inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey hits a sacrifice grounder to score Michael Morse during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
San Francisco Giants Brandon Crawford, right, is congratulated by his teammates after scoring on Michael Morse's RBI double during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford heads for home on an RBI double by Giants' Michael Morse during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera pitches during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Kansas City Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera raises his cap after walking San Francisco Giants Gregor Blanco during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
San Francisco Giants Michael Morse reacts after hitting an RBI double to score Brandon Crawford during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
San Francisco Giants' Michael Morse hits an RBI double during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost talks to pitcher Jeremy Guthrie after taking him out of the game during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is congratulated in the dugout as he leaves the game during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon heads for home plate after an RBI single by Eric Hosmer, left, during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals Eric Hosmer hits an RBI single to score Alex Gordon during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Home plate umpire Jim Reynolds watches as Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon scores on the an RBI single by Eric Hosmer during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson steps in the team's dugout after being relieved in the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar is congratulated by teammate Mike Moustakas after scoring during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer hits an RBI single during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer (35) hits an RBI single off San Francisco Giants pitcher Javier Lopez (49) during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer hits an RBI single during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Javier Lopez throws during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Javier Lopez throws during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson, left, walks off the mound after being relieved during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Kansas City Royals Alcides Escobar runs to score on an RBI double by Alex Gordon during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar scores at home past San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey on a double by Royals' Alex Gordon during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon hits an RBI double during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
San Francisco Giants' Tim Hudson acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the game during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon hits an RBI double during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals Alcides Escobar is congratulated by a teammate after scoring on an RBI double by Alex Gordon during the sixth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie pitches to the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Fans hold up signs in support of Stand Up 2 Cancer event during baseball's World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence catches a ball hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain during the fourth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie throws during the first inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Buck, Pool)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson throws during the first inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Buck, Pool)
Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Cain catches a fly ball to right field by San Francisco Giants Travis Ishikawa to end the second inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar is out at first by San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt during the third inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
San Francisco Giants Hunter Pence is tagged out attempting to steal second base by Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar during the second inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
San Francisco Giants' Travis Ishikawa catches a fly ball by Kansas City Royals Salvador Perez during the second inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Spectators cheer during Game 3 of baseball's World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Singer Huey Lewis cheers before Game 3 of baseball's World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, left, shakes hands with Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost before Game 3 of baseball's World Series Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
San Francisco Giants Bruce Bochy, left, speaks to former San Francisco Giants' Hall of Famer Willie Mays waits to be introduced before Game 3 of baseball's World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Former San Francisco Giants' Hall of Famer Willie Mays waits to be introduced before Game 3 of baseball's World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Confetti flies during the national anthem before Game 3 of baseball's World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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