Royals

Hope for Royals: Recent history favors game-five losers in a tied World Series

The Royals coaches have several Bay Area connections. Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz played for back-to-back NCAA Division III championship teams at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock, Calif., about 100 miles east of the San Francisco Bay.
The Royals coaches have several Bay Area connections. Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz played for back-to-back NCAA Division III championship teams at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock, Calif., about 100 miles east of the San Francisco Bay. The Kansas City Star

The winner of World Series game five Sunday will need just one victory in the final two games to take the championship, but recent history has favored game-five losers.

Seven of the last 11 teams to win a game five in a tied Series eventually lost: the 1982 Brewers, the 1986 Red Sox, the 1987 Cardinals, the 1991 Braves, the 2001 Yankees, the 2002 Giants and the 2011 Rangers. The last four winners: the 1996 Yankees, the 1997 and 2003 Marlins and the 2013 Red Sox.

Overall, however, game-five winners in a tied World Series have a 28-15 edge in winning the championship, or 65.1 percent.

The Giants have been tied at two games apiece in seven previous World Series and won the title only one time — in the 1921 Series over the Yankees, when it was a best-of-nine affair and the Giants won in eight.

Lineup tweak

After going with the same lineup except for the pitcher’s spot in games three and five, manager Ned Yost changed his batting order slightly for game five against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner.

Salvador Perez moved ahead of Omar Infante and Mike Moustakas into the No. 5 spot, hitting between Eric Hosmer and Moustakas, who both hit left-handed.

“We were trying to split up with Bumgarner,” Yost said. “We moved Moose down one spot and moved Salvy up two spots, because he had pretty good at-bats against Bumgarner last time.”

Another California coach

Yost isn’t the only Royals coach with ties to the greater Bay Area region. Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz played for back-to-back NCAA Division III championship teams at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock, Calif., about 100 miles east of the San Francisco Bay.

Kuntz credits his then-coach, Jim Bowen, with providing his preparation ethic as a coach.

“Jim could tell you where to play everybody, how to pitch them and which pitchers were slow to the plate. He taught us a lot along the way,” Kuntz, who was on the 1976-’77 Warriors’ title teams, told the nearby Modesto Bee.

“At the time I remember thinking, ‘What the heck is this guy doing?’ and then all of the sudden you get in his shoes, and you realize how important that detail was.”

Yost, a Giants fan as a youth, grew up in Dublin, Calif., near Oakland on the East Bay.

Worth noting

▪ Entering game five, the Royals were still one victory by a relief pitcher and one save by Greg Holland away from setting major-league records for a single postseason. Seven of the Royals’ 10 wins have been credited to relief pitchers, tying the 2003 Marlins, and Holland has saved seven games, tying five others, most recently Koji Uehara of the 2013 Red Sox.

▪ According to Elias, the Royals are the third World Series team without a player to hit either 20 home runs or drive in 75 runs in a full season. The others were the 1938 Cubs, who were swept by the Yankees, and the 1965 Dodgers, who beat the Twins in seven games.

▪ No matter what happens to the Royals from here out, they’ve already become the second major league expansion team to reach three World Series. The New York Mets are the expansion leaders with four (1969, 1973, 1986 and 2000).

To reach Chris Fickett, call 816-234-4354 or send email to cfickett@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisFickett.

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