SAN FRANCISCO - American League teams traditionally don't fare well in National League ballparks during the World Series, especially in recent years.
Entering Friday night's Game 3, AL teams were 7-15 on the road in the Series since 2006.
The reasons vary, of course, but the primary one is that AL clubs suddenly are thrust into an unfamiliar style -- a game of mid- and late-inning double switches; a game in which the pitchers bat and a key hitter, such as Kansas City DH Billy Butler, is relegated to pinch hitting.
But the Royals, as has been pointed out all postseason, are not the prototypical AL offensive team that mostly relies on the home run.
"We have a team that's built like a National League team with our speed and defense," said outfielder Lorenzo Cain, whose team went 8-2 on the road against the NL this season.
Said manager Ned Yost: "I think that our club is well suited for the National League game."
The Royals were last in the AL in homers with 95 but led the league with 153 stolen bases. And though they didn't light it up on the bases in their four-game sweep of the Orioles in the ALCS, their four outfielders -- Cain, Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson and Nori Aoki -- repeatedly tortured Baltimore by catching just about everything that didn't make it over the wall.
"Our versatility, our athleticism, our speed definitely helps, and our bullpen, you know?" Yost said of his club's resemblance to an NL team.
Bruce Bochy, who spent 12 years managing the Padres before taking over the Giants in 2007, agreed.
"They have great pitching, and they've got the timely hits," he said. "They're a team that comes at you hard just like us. I think we're similar in that respect."
When it comes to the vagaries of the double switch, Yost has plenty of experience, having managed the Brewers from 2003-08. He also has a wealth of baseball knowledge on his bench, including hitting coach Dale Sveum, a former Cubs manager, and bench coach Don Wakamatsu, a former Mariners manager.
"I managed in the National League for six years, so I'm comfortable doing it," Yost said. "Dale's managed in the National League, he's comfortable. Don Wakamatsu and [catchers coach] Pedro Grifol are two of the best baseball people I've ever been around, so as a group, we're not afraid of the National League game. We understand the National League game. We understand the value and when to double switch."
After stealing seven bases in the wild-card win over the A's and five bases in a three-game sweep of the Angels in the Division Series, the Royals stole only one base in the ALCS and entered Friday night without a steal in the first two games of this series. But Yost said focusing too much on the hard stolen-base numbers misses a key point.
"We're opportunistic in our base-stealing," he said. "Baltimore had a great pitching staff that has focused on that all year long, really controlling the running game. But it still has its benefits. Because even when we saw in the Baltimore series, every time we'd have a speed guy on, even though guys were really quick to the plate, they still diverted some of their attention from getting the hitter out to the baserunner. And that's the idea behind it.
"You want to try to divert some of the attention away from the pitcher's main focus, which is concentrating on getting that hitter out, and having some of that focus go over here. It helps the hitters. There is no telling how many runs we picked up by doing that."