ALCS Preview

Who in eternity would have predicted this, let alone at the start of the season, but half way through the year!  Baltimore Orioles! Kansas City Royals!  Playing for the American League Championship and a trip to the World Series! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Nope.  It happened.  And we get to watch it unfold.

I was very hard on this Royals team.  I root for them, so it was hard.  But really, I’m starting to realize where they fooled me.  I was stoked when they swept the Angels, not only for the team, but the city of Kansas City,  and the fans.  So, I somewhat congratulated them on Twitter.

I was pretty happy, and totally let out my homer side.  The Royals now, have to play Baltimore, in what will be no easy task.  I haven’t been able to pick a Royals game or series correct this postseason, so by the end of this column, I won’t be feeling good about it, one way or the other.

So how can the Royals get past O’s?

The Royals have a excellent pitching staff, which have repeatedly proved itself.  James Shields has pitched phenomenal, redeeming the “Big Game James” nickname.  The bullpen has always been fantastic, and haven’t blown anything this postseason.  Led by Greg Holland, he hasn’t gave up a hit in the four innings he’s pitched in.

The problem, somewhat, resides at the plate.  The interesting thing about this offense is that during the year, they hit the least home runs, and stole the most bags.  That is crazy.  Speed has proved to be killer against other teams.  The Royals have used it to their advantage so far.  Getting that base runner 90 feet closer is huge with this clutch hitting the Royals have displayed.  Kansas City hasn’t just hit the ball out of nowhere in the bottom of 5th inning or anything, they’ve came up in the clutch.  Once they get a run, it seems almost impossible to stop them, and depending on who’s on the mound for the opposing team, they don’t stop at all.

This is a completely different Royals team than it was in August.  The hitting was terrible.  In mid-August, Alex Gordon had a batting average of .283, which was a team high.  It’s incredible how far they’ve came, and if they want to move on, they have to continue it.

The Orioles though, have to figure out how to stop this high momentum baseball team.  The Royals are on fire.  Baltimore knows that, and really their fans, are feeling the same way Royals fans are.  The O’s made the postseason in 2012, only to lose in six in the ALDS.  Baltimore hasn’t made a ALCS since 1997, where they lost again to the Indians.

This is a team, like the Royals, who I’ve predicted to lose in every series and game they’ve played this postseason.  They’ve burned me over and over.

The O’s hold the advantage in one obvious category, which is the offensive side.  Injuries ravaged this team late this year.  I thought it hurt them, but a very faulty Tigers bullpen helped them out.  Nelson Cruz has hit the ball insanely well, not only this year, but this postseason.  He’s drove this offense.  Adam Jones has also had a great postseason, and the KC bullpen has to be weary of him in clutch situations.  Chris Davis, who was suspended, and will be eligible for this series,  but won’t be on the roster.  It’s a interesting move, but they’ve been fine without him so far.

The big plus for the O’s is their offense vs. the KC rotation match up.  If the O’s can get past a Tigers rotation, they can probably get past the Royals starting pitchers.

The Orioles also have a good pitching staff, and maybe even better than the Royals.  We will find that out this series.  Featuring Darren O’Day and Zach Brtton, the bullpen is lockdown.  The Andrew Miller trade was huge for this team, and I praised it.  I knew it would help them out, and he has been amazing since joining.  I’m telling you, a change in scenery helps, winning or losing team.  With four 10 game winners in their rotation, their a handful.  Every night, you going up against a good pitcher.  Whether the Royals can get into his head, or get one spark of momentum, remains to be seen.

So it comes down to this.  A very, very tough call has been made on this game.  A call that probably won’t be right at the end of series, but hey, it’s all for fun.

Prediction: Orioles in 6





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