3 Keys to Game 3 of 2014 World Series: Kansas City Royals at San Francisco Giants


October 23, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson (17, front) throws the baseball in front of starting pitcher Jake Peavy (22, back) during workouts the day before game three of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 World Series continues tonight as the San Francisco Giants host the Kansas City Royals in Game 3 with the Series knotted at one game apiece. While Tim Hudson’s first World Series appearance will get a lot of play there are other keys to watch that could determine the outcome of this one.

AT&T Park

As Mike Oz at Big League Stew reminds us, the Royals have not played at AT&T Park since it was still SBC Park and when Barry Bonds still crushed the ball for the Giants. In other words, the current Kansas City roster has scant little experience in dealing with the park’s idiosyncrasies.

From the funky outfield dimensions, to the soft warning track to the gusting wind, AT&T is a challenging place to play, even if it’s more accommodating than Candlestick was.

Royals manager Ned Yost concedes that the park may even determine how his lineup shapes up, meaning Nori Aoki‘s bat could remain on the bench in favor of Jarrod Dyson’s glove.

Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum‘s days as a dominant starter are long gone, but he is still a vital cog in the Giants’ postseason plans. In 2012, he manhandled the Detroit Tigers in nearly five innings over two games, and manager Bruce Bochy needs the security of those long innings again this October.

The possible snag in that plan in Lincecum’s balky back, which has robbed him of his elite starter status, and which knocked him from the eighth inning of Game 2 in Kansas City after retiring all five batters he faced. Word on the street is that Lincecum is ready for Game 3, but you never can tell how long that back will hold up, particularly on chilly autumn evenings in the Bay.

With oldster Tim Hudson pegged as the starter after a not-so-good appearance in the NLCS against the St. Louis, there is a good chance that Lincecum will be needed tonight, and his effectiveness could determine the outcome of this game.

No Designated Hitter

The Giants play in the National League, so this game will be played under NL rules, which means no designated hitter. For the Royals, that means DH Billy Butler will ride the bench tonight, while the KC pitchers will take their hacks at the plate.

Over a long span of games, not having Butler get his four at-bats would be a big dent in the Royals’ royal armor, but it’s more or less a crapshoot when you’re looking at just one game. In one way, it’s an advantage for the Royals because they’ll have an extra bat available for pinch-hitting duties late in the game.

Of course, the Giants will also be without a DH, though they’re used to that setup.

Where the lack of DH should really be noticeable is not necessarily in the outcome of this game, but on how it’s played. If both Aoki and Butler are on the bench, the Royals will be even more small-ball than usual, and ever pitch will take on greater importance. If Hudson and Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie can keep the bats quiet in the early innings, we could be in for a nail-biter.

Even with a relatively weak starting pitching matchup, Game 3 of the 2014 World Series should give us plenty to watch, and plenty to talk about tomorrow morning when the dust clears.