KANSAS CITY – Despite the Royals’ 7-2 victory in Game Two on Wednesday night, the San Francisco Giants will return home with history on their side after their dominant victory in Tuesday’s opener.
The Giants rolled to a 7-1 victory behind ace Madison Bumgarner and that’s a pretty good omen. According to Elias Sports, the only team in the last 30 years to win a Series opener by six or more runs and not win the title was the 1996 Atlanta Braves. They posted a 12-1 romp in Yankee Stadium but lost the series in six games.
In recent years, Game One has been a huge portend of things to come. Nine of the past 10 teams and 15 of the last 17 to win the opener have won the Series.
The Giants became the first road team to win an opener since the 2009 Phillies, who posted a 2-0 win in Yankee Stadium but ended up losing the series. It was San Francisco’s eighth straight Game One win in the postseason on the road, dating to a loss at Florida in the 1997 division series.
The Royals gave up three runs over the final 24 innings of the American League Championship Series against Baltimore, only to see James Shields give up three runs over the first five hitters in Game One.
The Royals trailed for just two innings in seven games against the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles in the previous two series. They never led in Game One and fell behind in Game Two on Gregor Blanco’s leadoff home run. They finally took a lead Wednesday in the second, going ahead for the first time in the series after 11 innings.
Kansas City’s loss in Game One ended its 11-game postseason winning streak, dating to the final three games of the 1985 World Series. That was one shy of the Yankees’ pair of 12-game streaks under the October spotlight.
Bumgarner’s dominant performance in Game One made him the only active pitcher to win a game in three different World Series. Since 1990, the only other pitchers who have done that are Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine and Andy Pettitte (who did it in four). And keep in mind Bumgarner is just 26 years old.
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval cracked up a horde of reporters crowded around his locker following Game One when asked about the feeling of playing behind Bumgarner.
Said Sandoval: “It feels like a vacation.”
Sandoval’s fourth-inning double Wednesday extended his streak of consecutive postseason games on base to 25. It’s the longest active streak and six behind the all-time record of 31 set by Miguel Cabrera from 2011-2013. The only other players ahead of Sandoval are Philadelphia’s Chase Utley (27) and Baltimore Boog Powell (25).
With few relief pitchers winning the Cy Young Award, baseball has created a new citation honoring the top relief pitchers in each league. Royals closer Greg Holland and Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel were named the inaugural winners in each league in cerememonies prior to Game Two.
The American League honor has been christened the Mariano Rivera Award while the National League citation will be known as the Trevor Hoffman Award.
In another pregame ceremony, Commissioner Bud Selig honored the family of former Boston College player Pete Frates as baseball dedicated Game Two to ALS research. Frates, an ALS sufferer, was the inspiration for the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that swept social media over the summer. Selig presented Frates’ parents with an inscribed silver ice bucket for his courage.
Royals Hall of Famer George Brett threw the ceremonial first pitch, and it was caught by 1985 Kansas City teammate John Wathan.