Royals still undefeated in postseason play since 1985, head to KC up 2-0 over O's in ALCS
The Royals and Orioles had all of 15 hours to do what they needed to do after Game 1 of the ALCS -- eat, sleep and game plan for Baltimore's starter Bud Norris -- before Game 2 began at Camden Yards.
Saturday's matchup was an early but crucial one. A Royals win would give them a commanding 2-0 series lead, with the series headed to Kansas City. An Orioles win would allow them to pull even in the series and somewhat ease the pain of an extra-innings loss in Game 1.
Eric Hosmer opened the scoring in the first with a single over J.J. Hardy's head. The bloop brought Nori Aoki and Lorenzo Cain home for a 2-0 Royals advantage.
Aoki, Cain and Hosmer were a combined 2-for-16 against Norris, entering today. They just tallied three straight hits to put KC ahead 2-0.- Paul Casella (@paul_casella) October 11, 2014
Baltimore catcher Caleb Joseph, who entered the game hitless since mid-September, got the O's on the board with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second. That allowed the home team to score without the benefit of a hit, after KC righty Yordano Ventura walked the bases loaded.
Billy Butler added to his postseason baserunning highlight reel with an RBI double into the right-field corner, increasing the KC lead to 3-1 in the top of the third, but Adam Jones knotted things at 3 in the bottom half. Ventura sent a 2-0 fastball right down the pipe, and Jones punished him.
Mike Moustakas momentarily put KC back on top, 4-3, with a long ball in the top of the fourth. It was his fourth homer in six playoff games.
Nelson Cruz beat out a potential double play ball in the fifth to allow Alejandro De Aza to score as the tying run. It stayed that way until the top of the ninth, when Alcides Escobar slashed a double down the right-field line. That allowed Terrance Gore -- he of the five Major League runs scored and one Major League at-bat -- to score, putting KC on top, 5-4.
Cain's RBI single two batters later gave KC an important insurance run and gave the Royals a 6-4 lead -- one that would hold and earn them the win.
The Game Changer
There is clearly merit to the idea of working the starting pitcher to get into a team's bullpen, but the O's might want to re-evaluate when that means facing the Royals' fearsome foursome.
Ventura, for all his potential and fastball velocity, lasted only 5 2/3 innings. Brandon Finnegan -- who pitched for TCU this spring -- closed out the inning.
Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland followed suit with a scoreless frame apiece.
By comparison, Baltimore's talented bullpen allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Other Key Players, Plays
The Royals' one-run top of the third might have been more potent if not for Jones' acrobatics in the outfield. He robbed Aoki of a hit by snowconing a sinking liner.
Joseph singled with two outs in the fourth -- a line drive to left -- for his first base knock since Sept. 10.
Joseph breaks through for a single. Was 0-for-33.- Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) October 11, 2014
Cain -- who is clearly in an unspoken defensive competition with Jones, his Baltimore counterpart -- added some green to his dirty uniform in the sixth when he laid out to take away Hardy's hit.
Ventura exited mysteriously in the bottom of the sixth, and the team announced only that he has "right shoulder soreness." But, lest Royals fans get too concerned, the hurler said postgame he expects to make his next start.
The ALCS will take Sunday off before resuming play in Kansas City at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, with the Royals putting their 2-0 series lead and nine-game postseason winning streak (…dating back to 1985) on the line. It's safe to expect Kauffman Stadium to be loud.
KC righty Jeremy Guthrie, who had a 2.40 ERA in five September starts, will get the ball against his former team. Baltimore will turn to left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who allowed the Tigers five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in the ALDS.
The Royals have now won nine straight postseason games, tied for the sixth-longest streak in Major League history.The record is 12 straight.- Paul Casella (@paul_casella) October 12, 2014