KANSAS CITY, Mo. - People haven't thrown around the phrase "three-headed monster'' to describe the group, nor have they routinely affixed the words "impenetrable'' and "impossible'' to it.
No, those superlatives, and more, have been reserved this postseason for the Royals' bullpen, and not without reason.
The unit, led by the seventh-eighth-ninth-inning combination of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland, was the primary reason the Royals qualified for their first World Series since 1985.
But a dirty secret -- a secret outside of San Francisco, at any rate -- has emerged this October, continuing in this series:
The Giants' bullpen has been better than the Royals.
"It really has [been good], all year,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "Our bullpen has done a great job in the postseason.''
Entering Tuesday night's Game 6, Giants relievers had posted a 1.80 ERA in 50 innings this postseason, compared with a 3.13 ERA, in 542/3 innings, for the Royals. During the last seven games, including the first five in the World Series, the Giants' bullpen had allowed three earned runs in 25 innings for a 1.08 ERA.
Jake Peavy, the Giants' Game 6 starter, was asked about his team's bullpen getting less attention than the Royals'.
"I don't think our guys particularly care,'' Peavy said. "The biggest thing with ours is we have a lot of experience down there and guys who are comfortable in their own skin and believe that we can get it done. We believe in our bullpen the way the world believes in Kansas City's.''
Peavy said later it wasn't a slight to the arms Royals manager Ned Yost sends out.
"Absolutely not,'' Peavy said when asked if he was "tired'' of hearing about Kansas City's bullpen. "They should be talked about. Those guys are incredible. We're not taking anything away from how good Herrera and Wade Davis are, and, obviously, Greg Holland.
"They're a lot more fun to talk about because they do it with a little more style points because they really throw hard.''
Also, Bochy isn't as formulaic with how he uses his relievers. "We do things a little different how we work our bullpen,'' Bochy said. "Not quite as structured.''
There is lefthander Jeremy Affeldt, who entered Game 6 having recorded a scoreless outing in 21 consecutive postseason games, second only to Mariano Rivera's 23. Santiago Casilla has gone 19 straight postseason games without allowing a run, followed by lefty Javier Lopez, whose streak is a mere 18.
Then there is Yusmeiro Petit, who had not allowed a run in 12 innings this October. That streak ended Tuesday night, when he relieved Peavy and gave up three hits and two runs in the Royals' seven-run second inning.
Petit threw three innings in the Giants' 11-4 victory in Game 4, helping to overcome an early 4-1 deficit.
"He's not a secret around here,'' Peavy said of Petit, who set a record this year by retiring 46 consecutive batters. "He's a secret to the world, as are a lot of our guys.''
Which is OK with Affeldt, who is fine with the attention given to the Royals' bullpen.
"Do I get tired of it?'' he said Monday, according to MLB.com. "No. I expect that people are going to talk about them. A big reason that they're here is probably that bullpen, and so people pay attention to it.
"But I don't compete against their bullpen. I compete against their hitters. I believe in our guys here. And I believe that our bullpen is a big reason we're here, as well. Let them be talked about. I think it's a good thing. But I also think that we're a good bullpen, as well.''