Lost in the euphoria of the sweep of the Orioles was the fact the Royals offense went into cold storage when the series shifted back to The K. After scoring 14 runs off 25 hits in Baltimore, the Royals managed four runs and just 12 hits at home. Of course, it was enough to squeak by, and in the October world of short series and long breaks, it probably doesn’t matter. I just find it interesting that in the last two games the Royals scored their runs on a ground out, a sac fly and a fielders choice that resulted in an error allowing two runs to score on one play. Also, of the 12 hits in the two games, the Royals mustered only one extra base hit. That was Billy Butler’s double leading off the eighth in Game Four. Terrance Gore ran for Butler, but was stranded at third. Welcome home, Royals offense.
But the beauty of the 2014 Royals is they can make two runs stand up. It was a recipe we saw often. Just give five or six strong innings of starting pitching and get the hell out of the way for the Three Relievers of the Apocalypse.
It seems like I wrote about this at length once the team went on it’s second half tear. Every night it was a different guy with a big hit in a key situation that seemed to do just enough to plate a run or two and then the game is left in the hands of the pitching and the defense. Although the Royals have played some wild games and had some late inning heroics on the back of the long ball, this is a team built for October success through it’s pitching and defense. We saw that on display in Games Three and Four. Again, in the short series of October it looks like the Royals can beat you in a variety of ways. It’s not going to be easy against the Giants, but you know the Royals will be competitive in damn near every game. If not all of them.
As a team in the ALCS, the Royals hit .280/.362/.417. They drew 15 walks, which feels like an extraordinary number for this team in a four game series, and stole just a single base while collecting 10 extra base hits. By contrast, the Orioles hit just .217/.283/.297 with two steals and seven extra base hits. Remember how going into the series the talk was how the Royals were going to run like hell and the Orioles were the brutes of baseball? Hmmmm… Baseball narratives are fun, aren’t they?
I guess the point is, expect the unexpected. Or, if you prefer, anything goes. If some expert at ESPN or the MLB Network tells you how it’s going to be, change the channel to some home improvement show. Because they know exactly as much as you or I.
— Ned Yost named his Game One and Two starters and it’s no surprise it’s James Shields and Yordano Ventura, respectively. Shields hasn’t had a start you would define as “quality” this postseason. He’s allowed a bunch of baserunners and has had a difficult time preventing them from crossing the plate. He’s allowed 10 runs in 16 innings. I did the math. That’s a 5.63 ERA.
Shields will be squaring off against Madison Bumgarner who’s been brilliant this October. On paper, and based on recent history, it’s not a favorable match-up at all. But this October we’ve learned to throw out all that kind of nonsense. Count out Shields at your peril.
— The Royals have played eight postseason games. They’ve had the same lineup for all eight. In fact, the lineup hasn’t changed since September 21. So it’s pretty safe to assume we know what the lineups will look like for Game One and Two.
Everything changes in Game Three, when the Series shifts to San Francisco, as the Royals lose the DH. I half expect Yost to just insert Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas in the fifth spot in the order. Automatic managing is the best. Hey, I’m only half kidding. Everything Yost touches in October has turned to gold. At this point, if he told me Nori Aoki would hit home runs in every World Series game, I’d believe him.
— I’ll make my prediction on Tuesday. After final rosters have been announced and I consult my tarot cards and locate my missing Ouija board.
World Series Reading:
— Here’s your feel-good story of the day: Six year old Noah Wilson, who is currently at Children’s Mercy Hospital undergoing cancer treatments, got World Series tickets from Joe Torre.
— For you old-timers, the Royal Lancers aren’t as active as they used to be, but they’re still around. Still making a difference.
— Jim Bowden ranks the World Series players from 1 to 50. It’s behind a paywall, so I’ll just tell you, the highest rated Royal is Alex Gordon at number four.
— Here’s how umpire Eric Cooper learned he got the World Series gig.
— Don’t sleep on the Giants infield defense.