Royals Sweep Orioles in ALCS

Timothy Earl October 22, 2014 Comments Off on Royals Sweep Orioles in ALCS

baltimore-oriolesThe Baltimore Orioles magical season came to a screeching halt as they were beaten in game four 2-1 and swept by the Kansas City Royas 4-0 in the American League Championship Series.

The Orioles were not alone in their disappointment as these same Royals also swept the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels, becoming the first team in MLB history to win their first eight games of the post season.

The Royals appeared to be unbeatable against Baltimore as they caught every ball in the gap and came up with the crucial hit in each clutch situation, giving the Orioles little hope once the first victory was secured.

In the first game of the series, a KC 8-6 win in 10 innings, the Royals just did what they had already done in three extra innings games this post season…they won.

Still, Baltimore a team that won 96 games this season and having themselves swept the mighty Detroit Tigers with their big bats and Cy Young winning pitchers to advance to the ALCS, would rally from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game in the sixth inning, 5-5 only to lose in the 10th inning as KC scored three runs in the extra frame. Baltimore answered with one run in the bottom of the inning but that was as close as they got.

Royals Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas both went deep in the 10th to pace the Royals. This from the team who hit the least amount of home runs (95) in the regular season against the team who hit the most home runs (211) the stunned Baltimore Orioles.

In the second game of the series, a 6-4 Kansas City win, Baltimore tied the game in both the third and fifth innings, only to see the Royals score two runs in the ninth inning to secure the victory.

The hero this time was outfielder Lorenzo Cain, the MVP of the series, who went 4-5 in the game and along with  Alcides Escobar had an RBI in the ninth inning to give his team a commandng 2-0 ALCS lead.

In the second game, Oriole Adam Jones hit his first post season home run, a two-run shot in the third but his bat went cold once the series moved to Kansas City.

Oriole closer Zach Britton, a rock all season, gave up both ninth inning runs but the blame was shared by reliever Darren O’Day, who was also lights out in the regular season. Both also struggled in game one as the Orioles slowly watched their run to their first World Series appearance since 1983 get much more difficult after losing the first two games in Baltimore.

In Kansas City, Baltimore pitched better, but failed to score more that two runs in two 2-1 losses.

Game three saw a pitching match up between former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie and Orioles 16 game winner, Wei-Yin Chen. In this game, Baltimore took its first lead of the series 1-0 in the second inning on back to back doubles from first baseman Steve Pearce and shortstop J.J. Hardy. But those were the only runs the Birds would score as the Kansas City bullpen and closer Greg Holland shut them down again for their third straight win of the series.

Kansas City got two bloop singles in the fourth inning and a Chen walk loaded the bases. They scored a run on a fielders choice to even the score at 1-1.

Then in the sixth inning with runners on the corners, reliever Kevin Gausman, who replaced Chen, gave up a sacrifice fly which gave the Royals a 2-1 lead. The KC bullpen did the rest as they allowed a walk to Oriole Ryan Flaherty in the fourth and then retired 16 straight Oriole batters.

Defensively,  the Royals caught foul balls falling over railings and while smacking into outfield walls, making it appear that hits for Baltimore batters were impossible. Every Baltimore potential rally was squashed dead like a buzzing fly at the end of a fly swatter.

Up 3-0, Kansas City did what they had done all series, take advantage of each situation while they were at the plate.

In the first inning of game four they scored two runs in the first inning and a ball never left the infield.

First, the Royal’s Escobar reached on an infield single that took a bad hop. The next batter, Norichika Aoki was hit by a pitch. Cain then came in and layed down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners to second and third. The next batter, Eric Hosmer hit a ball to Pearce who fired home to catcher Caleb Joseph. As Escobar was sliding into home, he kicked the ball out of Joseph’s glove and it rolled some 20 feet away from home plate.

Aoki, realizing that Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez failed to cover home, ran home and also scored. Just like that Kansas City was up 2-0. Baltimore did score one run on a Flaherty solo homer in the third, but that is as close as they got.

In the clinching game four, the Kansas City defense and bullpen did what they did the entire series and for eight straight games allowing the Royals fans to dance in the stands and the players to jump for joy after the final out, having secured another 2-1 victory and a World Series trip for the first time in 29 years. Yes, for now at least, they can say the sky is really Royal blue.

 

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