When the Royals knocked off the Giants, 4-2, 5-0 (in James Shields' shutout) and 7-4 in Interleague Play, the National League's World Series entrant was in a stretch that included losses in 13 of 18 games, while the Royals -- riding the wave of Korean superfan SungWoo Lee, who made his first appearance at the K on Aug. 9 -- were in the middle of a 15-3 run to start the Dog Days of August.
"The team that we played then is very different than the team they have now," pitcher Jeremy Guthrie said. "The season has its ups and downs, and we just happened to catch them when they were scuffling. They turned right back around and got in the playoffs, and now they're every bit as hot as we are."
One of the pitchers that the Royals beat was Madison Bumgarner in the 4-2 game, although the lefty went the distance. The big blow was Billy Butler's two-run homer in the first inning.
"He's a great pitcher, a phenomenal pitcher, but we've got to figure out a way to beat him," said third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Bumgarner's four postseason starts included a four-hit shutout over the Pirates in the Wild Card Game. The Giants also beat the Nationals, three games to one, in the NL Division Series and the Cardinals, four games to one, in the NL Championship Series.
"I wasn't rooting for anybody, I thought both of them would have been a great series," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "but I grew up in the Bay Area, I grew up a Giants fan, so it's going to be special. I've got the utmost respect for [manager] Bruce Bochy.
"They're a lot like us. They're a team that scraps ballgames out. They've got great pitching, their bullpen's dynamic. Their defense is very solid. It's gonna be a good series."
Yost believes the August sweep means little.
"This team, much like ourselves, really excelled in the postseason and they've done it before, two-time world champions (2010, '12). They save their best for the end of the season, and they're going to be extremely tough," Yost said.
His players tended to agree.
"We played 'em and swept 'em at our place, and we don't look forward to it being the same way. But if we could pull out a sweep, we'd take it," outfielder Jarrod Dyson said. "This [Giants] team has got a lot of experience in the World Series and they know how to go about doing their job and finding a way to win. We've just got to continue grinding and keep doing what we're doing."
"It's going to be a tough battle, we know that," said first baseman Eric Hosmer. "They're obviously a team that's done it before, they've been in this spot before, but they're kind of similar to us. No one really thought they'd be there again, but they somehow surprised people and got there, so it should be a fun series."
"They've got some real good strengths over there that we're going to have to work around," reliever Wade Davis said. "Like their ability to put the bat on the ball. They've got a really good team that makes a lot of contact from what I've seen. Their lefties are good bad-ball hitters and they really stay in good at-bats. They're not really swinging away a lot, so we'll have to attack 'em."
"That was a different team that we played then," Moustakas said. "This team won the NLCS. The Giants have a lot of momentum coming into this series, and so do we. What we did in the past doesn't matter. It's the first one to four wins and we've got to figure out a way to beat 'em."
"The three-game sweep we had here is in the past now," shortstop Alcides Escobar added. "That was in the regular season, this is the World Series."