Something special has come over the Kansas City Royals in these playoffs, simply finding it impossible to lose. They take a 3-0 lead in the ALCS over the Baltimore Orioles, winning 2-1 thanks to some extraordinary fielding from Mike Moustakas and exceptional pitching from the bullpen.
After sweeping the Los Angeles Angels, the team with the best record in Major League Baseball, the Royals aren’t slowing down against the Baltimore Orioles, a team that seemed very complete in their series against the Tigers and all through this season. But once again – what happens in the regular season suddenly means nothing when it comes to turning momentum in the playoffs, as the Royals keep doing just a bit more than their opponents in what might end with a historic run into the World Series.
It’s 7-0 so far for the Royals, a franchise without a postseason appearance since 1985. Manager Ned Yost is only the second manager in MLB history to win his first seven playoff appearances, following Clint Hurdle from the Colorado Rockies in 2007. We here don’t really believe that much in the manager’s position in baseball, but it’s always impossible to argue with success. Yost made some mistakes in the first game, the wild card against the Athletics, but managed to dodge a bullet there. Since then his decisions have been spot on.
Mike Moustakas is quickly becoming the big star of this postseason, Even without getting a single hit in the 2-1 win, his fielding and acrobatic catches seem to steal away the attention. Once it was flying to a line drive and getting the out, and another time it was getting the out by jumping into the fans, falling into the pit and not losing hold of the ball, as nothing the Orioles tried to do during the final four innings could yield them a hit or even a walk.
And the Bullpen was the big story in this game. The Orioles entered the playoffs as the team with the tough bullpen to get around, but the Royals are proving to be the more difficult group to hit against. Four innings of Jason Frasor, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, picking up his third save of the series, and the Orioles couldn’t get a single hit or walk. Jeremy Guthrie had a good start as well, giving up three hits in five innings.
J.J. Hardy with a double in the second inning gave the Orioles the lead, but that was pretty much the last we heard anything positive about an Orioles hitter. After loading the bases in the fourth inning, Alex Gordon grounded out to second and Lorenzo Cain scored the run. Billy Butler hit a sacrifice fly which allowed Jarrod Dyson to complete the task of pinch running and get the Royals their second run which won them the game.
No matter what the Orioles do, the Royals seem to have a slightly better answer in reply, coming up with narrow wins. Baseball postseason is often difficult to explain except for making it about playing better and gathering the right kind of momentum at the right time. The Orioles have the talent to at least make this series a little bit longer, but something about how this series has developed tells us it’s not going to happen.