Waiting game over for Cinderella Royals
By Larry Fine
(Reuters) - The waiting game will soon be over for the Kansas City Royals, who last played for the World Series crown 29 years ago and who host the San Francisco Giants in Tuesday's opener of Major League Baseball's championship series.
Besides waiting nearly three decades to return to postseason baseball, the Cinderella crew will have cooled their heels for five days since extending a record unbeaten playoffs streak to 8-0 by sweeping the American League Championship Series.
"This city's been waiting for this for a long time," Kansas City's Game One starter James Shields said on the eve of the best-of-seven series. "It's definitely a special moment for us."
The city has gone Royals-mad, with one craze creating big business at barbershops where fans have flocked to get "The Hos" haircut, a modified Mohawk style worn by hard-hitting first baseman Eric Hosmer.
As eager as the young, exuberant Royals are to resume their magical ride in front of an adoring Kauffman Stadium home crowd, that magic will be tested by San Francisco's left-handed ace Madison Bumgarner in the opener.
The 25-year-old Bumgarner has become a postseason master with five wins and a 2.67 career earned run average going back to the Giants' charge to World Series wins in 2010 and 2012.
This postseason he has pitched 31-2/3 innings, nearly triple the innings of the next closest Giants starter, and posted a 2-1 record and 1.42 earned run average.
The long grind of another postseason run has not ruffled the unflappable Bumgarner, who has set a record 26-2/3 consecutive scoreless postseason innings on the road. Continued...