By Ken Boehlke

Kansas City Royals vs. San Francisco Giants

Series Price – KC (-105) SF (-115)
Exact Games – KC in 4 (+800) KC in 5 (+550) KC in 6 (+450) KC in 7 (+450) SF in 4 (+1200) SF in 5 (+500) SF in 6 (+400) SF in 7 (+400)

Series Pick: It’s been quite the magical run for both teams, from the Wild Card round all the way to the World Series. The Royals came back against the A’s, and followed that with a ridiculous seven straight wins in the ALDS and ALCS. The Giants just seem to score runs right when they need them, often without even hitting the ball out of the infield. But the magic has to wear off for one and it’s likely to do so in a big way in the World Series. The way both of these teams are playing, it’s easy to predict a long hard-fought series in which one team’s timely hitting will beat out the other’s stellar pitching. However, the exact opposite is much more likely to occur. Expect a short series in which the better team’s dominance continues while the other’s comes to a stunning halt. Now to decide which team’s which.

The series will start out with the ace of each staff, James Shields vs. Madison Bumgarner. Shields has been anything but dominant through his first three starts in the playoffs, but he’s done just enough in each to help earn the Royals a victory. On the other hand, the Giants likely wouldn’t be in the World Series without the excellent performance of Madison Bumgarner. MadBum has pitched through the seventh in every start, and aside from his throwing error in Washington, he’s been everything the Giants could ask for out of their ace. This first game will be crucial to the series, as the winner will grab control in what will become a hitter’s series from there on out. The Royals should be able to scratch across a few runs on Bumgarner, and unless Shields falls flat on his face, the home atmosphere will be enough to get Kansas City off to a 1-0 lead.

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Game 2 will then become a must-win for the Giants, and they’ll send veteran Jake Peavy to the mound. Peavy has a sporadic history in the postseason that usually sees him relieved by the fifth inning or earlier. That won’t work on the road against an American League team. Unless Peavy completely turns it around, the Giants will be in trouble in the second game of the series, and the Royals could be looking at their 10th straight postseason win and a 2-0 lead.

At this point it will be up to Ned Yost to make the right decisions with his pitching staff to keep his team ahead. Bruce Bochy has already announced he’ll go with Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong in games three and four. The most likely scenario for the Royals will be Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas. The big difference between the two teams though will be the bullpens. Not to put down the Giants’ bullpen, because they are very good, but no one can touch the Royals pen at this point. Kansas City only needs five innings out of its starter and then the game gets awfully short for their opponent.

If the Giants want to stay in the series it will take the middle of the lineup to beat the power pitching arms in Kansas City’s relief. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval have been brilliant thus far and must either start rallies or cap them against guys like Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera. If they can’t get to them, then the Giants will fall in the same trap as the A’s, Angels and Orioles. It’s either beat the Royals in the first five innings (which still didn’t work for Oakland) or watch the game wilt away as the Royals mow through the latter innings of games.

The series really sets up perfectly for the Royals. They are as hot as any team in the history of postseason baseball has been, they have home-field advantage thanks to Bud Selig’s stupid rule, and they have unmatched fan support. Kansas City simply has a certain mojo that is undeniable, and to pick against it would almost seem criminal.

Pick: Kansas City Royals (-105)

Exact Pick: Kansas City in 5 (+550)

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