The great thing about home-field advantage in a playoff series: It’s a very fragile thing. The ability to play game seven on your own field, and in front of your own fans, lasts only as long as you win when at home. Because when the opponent steals a game on the road, suddenly they have the advantage.
The Kansas City Royals had to win game two last night to have any chance in this series. Being down 0-2 and going on the road to San Francisco would have been an overwhelming hole to crawl out of. But last night’s 7-2 victory means their objective now is clear: win at least one game this weekend, and reclaim home-field advantage. If they can do that, Kansas City will be buzzing about baseball through next week, as the World Series will end there. But if the Giants can hold serve — and I know that’s a tennis expression, but it also works here — then Royals fans won’t have another chance to go out to the ballpark and root for their team.
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There’s no doubt, at least in my mind, that the Wild Card game being played at home was a tremendous advantage for the Royals earlier this month. Looking at the size of the deficits they overcame, it seems clear that it could only happen at home, in front of fans who had been waiting for the moment for a very long time.
Now we’ll see if they have what it takes to win on the road and return to Kansas City. Otherwise, Royals fans will leave a lot more than their hearts in San Francisco.