World Series momentum? Just look to the next day

Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee via APThe Giants’ Tim Lincecum looked good in his first postseason appearance this year

Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee via APThe Giants’ Tim Lincecum looked good in his first postseason appearance this year

So overrated is momentum in baseball that there's a well-worn saying about it. Momentum is the next day's starting pitcher (or something along those lines).

True, true, true. Any semblance of momentum the Kansas City Royals might have felt they had established while ripping off eight consecutive victories on the way to the World Series was gone the moment Madison Bumgarner took the mound in Game 1.

But there are exceptions to every rule. Every saying isn't universally applicable. Which brings us to Game 3 of this riveting 2014 Fall Classic, pitting two wild-card teams that both have the feel-good feel of a Team of Destiny.

Had the Giants won Game 2 on Wednesday, heading home for three chances to win two and wrap up a third world title in five years, a case certainly could have been made — a strong case — that they had the Big Mo on their side.

They did not win Game 2, of course. Whatever momentum the Giants might have felt they had established with their Game 1 stroll to victory behind Bumgarner's latest postseason gem disappeared the moment Hunter Strickland surrendered his 57th home run of the playoffs (OK, it just seems like that many).

Jake Peavy was game, as usual, but Yordano Ventura — the next day's starting pitcher — and the Royals' insanely good back end of the bullpen was a touch better, trumping Peavy's guile with gas, gas and more gas.

Surgically placed gas with movement, it should be noted. As opposed to the straight-as-string, just-off-the-mark heaters that will haunt young Hunter and surely prompt a rare round of second-guessing loyal-to-a-fault-at-times Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Quick, Giants fans: Who would you rather see in a high-leverage, righty-vs.-righty scenario Friday night, Strickland or Tim Lincecum?

You might want to count Bochy among those second-guessing the call to Strickland. Forced by Strickland's latest meltdown to finally give the “Freak” a shot, the revered San Francisco skipper got a vivid reminder of Lincecum's October brilliance, and that's your silver lining for the night, Giants fans.

Lincecum, who had to leave Wednesday's game with a stiff lower back, is now officially the X-factor in the Series, which suddenly feels like it is, indeed, going to end up being a Fall Classic. The Royals finally showed up and, damn, they look legit.

That doesn't mean they have even an ounce of momentum, though. Whatever momentum exists at this point is in someone's right arm — Tim Hudson's or Jeremy Guthrie's.

Truth be told, the very notion of game-to-game momentum is laughable. The idea of a group of world-class athletes on the precipice of history feeling anything less than supremely confident in the wake of a single loss to another group of world-class athletes on the precipice of history is ridiculous.

Nobody gets this far without unshakable faith in self, and the Giants and Royals augment that faith with extremely thick skin. The core of the Royals endured years of ridicule before delivering on long-promised promise this season. The Giants were ridiculed as the worst team in the game just a few short months ago, the product of gagging away a huge division lead with a couple months of truly brutal baseball.

You think losing a game is going to rattle these guys in any way? We already knew the answer in regards to the cockroach Giants.

Now we know the answer on the Royals' side of things, too.

Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).

Kansas City RoyalsMychael UrbanSan Francisco GiantsWorld Series

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