When the Baltimore Orioles earned their first division title since 1997 last week it was largely based on the fact that they had the best earned run average in the league during the final three months. The Orioles had the best pitching down the stretch and the most home runs of any team in the league. After sweeping the Tigers, but only getting one solid pitching performance, things needed to get better for the Orioles if they were going to make their first World Series appearance since 1983. The ALCS is not going as the Orioles expected, as the Kansas City Royals have rallied late in the first two games to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
The Royals have yet to drop a game in these playoffs. Sports, lots of times, come down to the team that gets hot at the right time. In college basketball teams have to make the tournament and then win at least six straight games to win it all. In football a team has to win three or four games in a row, depending on their seed in the playoffs.
Baseball is a bit different for most teams. Teams get a series to close things out. A team can usually bounce back from a bad game and live to play another day. The Royals were fighting for their playoff lives the entire season and never lost that mentality. They had to beat the Oakland Athletics in a one game play which took three extra innings to do. From the looks of it, the Royals are playing like they cannot lose a single game, because they have yet to do so.
Game one of the ALCS saw the Royals in a position that was new to them in the playoffs: they were playing with a lead. The Royals had a 4-1 lead that they ended up blowing and the Orioles tied the game at 5-5. The way the game ended, however, was very familiar to the Royals, going into extra innings. Alex Gordon hit his fourth RBI of the game, sparking a three-run 10th inning and the Orioles were unable to bounce back.
In game two the late game heroics continued for the boys in blue. With the game tied 4-4 in the ninth inning, outfielder Lorenzo Cain got his fourth hit of the game and helped the Royals bat in another two runs to win the game 6-4. The team with the most dominant bullpen down the stretch is battling the team with the fewest home runs in the league. The latter of the two teams is dominating the ALCS, making for an unexpected series.
The Royals went into Baltimore and won both games. Now they head back to the comfort of their own ballpark in Kansas City, needing only two more wins to clinch their first World Series trip since 1985. If Baltimore looks to stop that from happening and get back in the ALCS they are going to need to get their pitching back on track and go back to the long ball. Orioles’ fans saw signs of life from the Orioles’ bats in game two as Adam Jones tied the game at 3-3 with a two run home run in the third. More of the same will be needed to make it out of Kansas City with their World Series hopes still alive.
Game three of the ALCS is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 13 at 8 pm at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The excitement in Kansas City is off the charts as their Royals are riding a six-game win streak and bringing the ALCS back to the city for the first time in 29 years. Jeremy Chen will start for the Royals, taking on Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. The ALCS is not at all what most fans expected, and the Orioles are hoping to right the ship in game three.
Commentary by Andy Lapic
Photo By Jeff –Flickr License