Even though Jason Vargas will be making his World Series debut for Kansas City in Game 4, the Fall Classic atmosphere in San Francisco will not be foreign to him.
Four years ago, while home for the offseason in Arizona, Vargas and his wife decided to fly to San Francisco to watch Game 1 of the 2010 World Series between the Giants and Texas Rangers.
The Giants won 11-7 on the way to their first World Series title in San Francisco. They followed with another championship in 2012 and are back in for a third time in five years against the Royals this season.
“It was just an electric atmosphere,” Vargas recalled before Game 3 on Friday. “They were ready to go. The fans are here and they want to see their team win, and we're hoping to stop that.”
Vargas will have a big part in that goal when he starts Saturday night against Ryan Vogelsong.
Vogelsong has experience on this big stage, getting the win in Game 3 against Detroit two years ago when he pitched 5 2-3 innings in a 2-0 victory that helped send San Francisco to a sweep.
Vogelsong is the only pitcher to yield no more than one run in his first five postseason starts. That run ended in the NL Championship Series when Vogelsong allowed four runs in three innings of a no-decision against St. Louis.
But Vogelsong has proven he has no problems dealing with the heightened intensity in October.
“The biggest thing is just the experience of curbing the emotions,” he said. “It's definitely a situation where you have to be locked into the game and your thoughts need to be on the game, but you have to take a quick second to look around and take it all in.”
Vogelsong's postseason success is partly attributable to an increase in velocity in those games, with his fastball going from the low 90 mph range to about 95 mph.
“It's definitely a different adrenaline when you're in this stadium in a postseason game,” he said. “It's different than an everyday regular-season game.”
Vargas has pitched well in his first two postseason starts, allowing two runs in six innings of a no-decision in the division series opener against the Angels and getting the win when he allowed one run of 5 1-3 innings of the ALCS clincher against Baltimore.
Vargas had seven days off before his first postseason start, 12 before the second and nine before the Game 4 of the Series. He has used the time wisely, with the extra bullpen and side sessions helping to smooth out some mechanical issues that contributed to him going 1-5 with a 5.89 ERA in his final seven starts of the regular season.
“He's had two great starts,” manager Ned Yost said. “He was a guy that was consistent for us all year. Struggled a little bit his last three or four starts in September, but, again, a lot of that was mechanical, and he's made the adjustment. Had a great start against Anaheim. Had a great start against Baltimore, and we look for him to do the same tomorrow.”