Amid all the pressure of a World Series elimination game, sometimes a player has to stop and savor the moment.
They realize there are no guarantees they’ll ever get back. The Royals, after all, are playing in their first World Series in 29 years.
“Each one of us would appreciate this opportunity,” said Jeremy Guthrie, who is scheduled to start Wednesday’s game seven for the Royals. “I’m no different. I’m excited for the way the series lines up. It’s not always necessarily who is your best pitcher or who you have the most confidence in, but I think you go with your top guns in games one and two, and then it just so happens the game three starter has that chance or responsibility of pitching game seven.”
While the Giants are making their third World Series appearance in five years, they’re not taking this experience for granted.
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“You always think you’ll be back,” Giants first baseman Brandon Belt said before game six on Tuesday night, “but when we made it to the 2012 World Series, I realized how hard it was to get to that point.
“I was just thinking I can see how players can go their entire careers without making it to that point. … This is really hard. So you just kind of cherish that moment, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Only two Royals on the World Series roster, pitcher James Shields and second baseman Omar Infante, had been in a World Series, so most of them fulfilled a boyhood dream when they reached this Fall Classic.
Guthrie harkened back to watching the 1991 World Series when Minnesota beat Atlanta in seven games.
“My memories go back to (Minnesota’s) Jack Morris in 1991,” Guthrie said. “I was 12 years old, so I certainly could appreciate the effort he gave and the magnitude of the game, to be able to pitch like he did and win the World Series.”
Belt was in his first full season with San Francisco when the Giants swept Detroit in 2012, and he’s not sure he fully comprehended what his team accomplished.
“In 2012, everything was moving so fast,” Belt said. “I was in the big leagues for a year and a half, and I was just thinking, ‘Man, this is an incredible ride.’ But it’s kind of hard at that point to stop and step back and know what’s going on, and I’ve been able to do that this year.
“I’ve been able to slow the game down a little bit and just slow the moment down in general.”
A lot has to go right for a team to reach the World Series. Ask the Royals, who trailed Oakland by four runs in the eighth inning of the AL Wild Card game, only to come back and win it in the 12th. Or the Giants, who beat Washington 2-1 on Belt’s 18th-inning home run in game two of a National League Division Series.
“First off, it starts with the talent,” said Bruce Bochy, the manager for the Giants’ 2010 and 2012 World Series champs. “You need that, which we have. Then you have to deal with (injuries). You have to play good baseball for six months … you have to have the pitching … you have to catch the ball, you’ve got to do these things against a couple of different clubs, or in our case, three different clubs.
“It takes guys playing at the top of their game, and guys who can handle playing in postseason, because it’s really tough to get here.”
Guthrie, who worked five innings and picked up the win in a 3-2 victory at San Francisco in game three, can only hope to replicate Morris’ performance in 1991 or Bret Saberhagen’s nailing down the 1985 World Series with his second win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Hopefully all the preparation, all the work has paid off thus far, and that’s what I trust, and that’s what each one of those guys in there trusts, what can we do?” Guthrie said. “What can we control? Put yourself in a position to be successful and accept the results and be grateful for the opportunity.
“So that’s the way it will be (Wednesday) … it’s kind of a culmination of preparation, hard work, and opportunity, and each one of us will try to take the best advantage of it as we can.”