KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the San Francisco Giants, it's a day, a moment, a challenge that seems so familiar. They've been here before. They've done this before. They've awoken before, knowing this was it, the day they could win a World Series.
"Without question, it's a different feeling," said their catcher, their foundation, their No. 3 hitter, Buster Posey. "The moment you wake up, you have a different feeling. So it's special. And hopefully, we all embrace that."
And for the Kansas City Royals, the home team but also the team facing elimination, it's an experience they've lived through before, too -- in a wild-card game exactly four weeks ago. How many times did they find themselves staring at the end of their season that night and lived to tell about it? Two? Four? Six? Sixty?
So this is where we find ourselves as Game 6 of the 2014 World Series approaches Tuesday night, back in frenetic Kauffman Stadium, Jake Peavy versus Yordano Ventura, with the Giants leading three games to two:
Two teams. Two dreams. Two very different, yet very familiar missions.
For the Giants, this is about doing something only three teams have done in the 45-year division-play era and something no National League team has done in nearly 70 years -- winning three World Series in a span of five years.
And for the Royals, this is about survival. About doing whatever needs to be done to live another day and play another game. About doing again what they did in that crazy wild-card game -- altering the course of their franchise in a way some people in baseball, and even some people living in their own town, weren't sure was possible.
"But this feels different," Royals manager Ned Yost said of that game on Monday. "At that time, I felt like if we didn't win that game, just getting to the wild-card game and us going home, we wouldn't accomplish anything. ... I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that we won that game, because I wanted to go farther. I wanted to feel like we accomplished something by at least getting into the division series.
"But this," Yost said again, "is a different feeling. Even though our backs are against the wall, what is so weird about it is, it doesn't feel like our backs are against the wall. So that's a pretty good feeling."
What really makes this game different, though, is that this is more than merely a game in which two baseball dreams collide. It's a game where the forces of math and history collide. And as any seventh-grader can tell you, it's always hard to say which is more confusing, math or history.
The math all seems to be in the Giants' favor, right? They lead the Series. They only need to win once in the next two games. They won Game 5 to break a 2-2 tie and put themselves in this position. And of the previous 41 teams that have done that, 66 percent (27 of 41) have gone on to win the World Series.
But now let's move down the hall to history class. And today, we'll be teaching a class in recent World Series history -- because it looks totally unlike what October history looked like for the first eight decades of the World Series.
You know what recent history tells us? That it's great to be home. And it's even greater to be home for Game 6 of the World Series. Whether you're winning the Series. Whether you're trailing the World Series. Doesn't matter. Check out that recent trend:
• Starting in 1982, the home team has gone 22-3 in Games 6 and 7. And yes, you read that right. We said 22-and-3. That's an .880 winning percentage. Which makes no mathematical sense at all. If you subtract those 25 games, the winning percentage of home teams in all other World Series games, including this year, is just .540. Amazing.
• No team has lost either a Game 6 or 7 at home since 2003, when the Marlins rolled into Yankee Stadium and Josh Beckett-ized the Yankees. Home teams are 4-0 since that night.
• Over the past 20 World Series, just one other team has lost a Game 6 or 7 at home. And that was the 1997 Marlins, who lost Game 6 to the Indians but came back to win Game 7 the next night. So overall, in those 20 World Series from 1993-2013, home teams went 12-2 in Games 6 and 7.
• And since '82, the only other home team to lose a Game 6 or 7 is the 1992 Braves, who lost Game 6 and the Series to the Blue Jays.
• So if you've looked all this over carefully, you'll notice one more trend: No home team has lost a Game 7 in 35 years, since the Pirates won their last title in Baltimore. Since then, road teams have lost eight straight Game 7s.
OK, that's the game data. Now let's take a look at results of the World Series as a whole when it goes six games or more. The Royals will be big fans of these tidbits, too.
• There have been 17 World Series that went six games or more since 1982. The home team has won 15 of them. Fifteen.
• And during that period, 10 teams were in the Giants' position -- leading the World Series 3-2, but heading out on the road for the final two games. Eight of those 10 teams lost the World Series, by falling in both Games 6 and 7 on the road. The only exceptions were those 2003 Marlins and 1992 Blue Jays.
So no wonder Ned Yost talked the talk Monday with such optimism. He'll be managing the home team Tuesday night. And maybe Wednesday night. And that's a powerful force, rocking in the Royals' direction.
"Going back to 'The K,' with those fans and that electricity, we're excited," third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "We didn't do what we wanted to get done [in San Francisco]. But we've put it behind us, and we'll go on to the next one. Our fans are huge for us. They bring so much momentum and electricity, it helps us get through those times when we're not swinging the bat that well or doing what we need to do."
Our fans are huge for us. They bring so much momentum and electricity, it helps us get through those times when we're not swinging the bat that well or doing what we need to do.
"-- Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas
But now the other side of this story: There might not be a team in baseball that's better suited to win a Game 6 or 7 on the road than the Giants.
For one thing, they've won seven consecutive postseason games over the past three years when they've had a chance to send the team they were playing off to the fishing docks, with five of those seven games away from McCovey Cove.
And for another thing, they'll have eight players in uniform Tuesday who have already won two World Series on the road, in 2010 and 2012, and know that drill. True, neither of those series went six games. But that's just a technicality to this group.
"We had to do it in Texas, and we had to do it in Detroit. It's not easy," reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "Their fans, I'm sure, are going to create some electricity. Their fan base is going to do everything it can to back their team. And we're aware of that. So we have to go in and just keep a level head. And we have to go in and understand that's why the World Series isn't easy. And that's why, when teams that are evenly matched like us, they can be tough games to play."
The Giants left home in 2010 and 2012 needing to win twice, not once, to wrap up those World Series. And they went 4-1 in those games. So they'll be ready.
"So we think it's going to be fun," Yost said. "We're looking forward to getting back to our home crowd, where it's going to be absolutely wild and crazy."
And where all the history -- uh, make that the recent history -- is on their side.