This postseason continues to be one long lasting dream for the Kansas City Royals, completing a 4-0 sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS, winning game 4 with a 2-1 score on a ground ball to first of all things, which means they’re still undefeated in the 2014 playoffs and are now going to the World Series for the second time in franchise history.
It’s not a matter of luck, even if the Royals are doing things in an nontraditional way. They’re fielding and positioning ahead of the Orioles hitting has been fantastic, often an underrated part of any team’s game. While the bullpen wasn’t able to blank the Orioles this time through the final four innings, except for the rare hit here and there, the Orioles once again were able to get nothing against the pitching staff.
There was that home run from Ryan Flaherty, the second longest of the postseason, distanced at 432 feet. But besides that? All the Orioles could do as they saw their excellent season fall apart in four short games was get a total of four hits on 29 at-bats, finishing the game with just one chance of actually scoring a runner and failing at that. The pitching and defense wasn’t bad for the Orioles, but you can’t win a series or even games when you hit a combined seven times in the final two games, resulting in the first ever sweep they’ve conceded.
Alcides Escobar advanced with a hard-to-earn single, followed by Norichika Aoki getting drilled by Miguel Gonzalez and putting two man on base (first and second) to open the game. Lorenzo Cain bunted to the shock of everyone which allowed both Escobar and Aoki to creep in a little bit closer to home plate. On the next at-bat, Eric Hosmer grounded out to first, but the throw to home was mishandled by Caleb Joseph and a sliding Escobar kicked the ball out of his glove, leading to both Escobar and Aoki scoring the only runs for the Royals in the game.
Just how special was that? According to ESPN, Cain is the first No. 3 hitter to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the 1st inning of a postseason game since Steve Garvey in Game 2 of the 1984 World Series.
Jason Vargas had a solid start with 5.1 innings pitched, allowing just two hits and striking out six. Both Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis allowed just one hit in their innings but not getting themselves in too much trouble, followed by Greg Holland coming up with his fourth save of the series,as the Royals advance to the World Series for the first time since 1985 while winning their first eight games of the postseason, the longest streak to start the playoffs in MLB history. The Bullpen has improved from a 3.91 ERA in August to 2.54 in September and only 2.01 in the postseason.
Who comes next? It doesn’t really matter for the Royals, hoping that six days of rest won’t be killing their momentum, which is always the most important thing in a playoff series. They’re 6-1 combined against both the Giants and the Cardinals, so there’s an edge already in place.
It’s hard to explain. We’re clicking at the right moment right now. It’s been an amazing run. It’s nothing better than when you win. Today, same old story: good pitching, good defense and scratch out a win. That’s what you dream of as a kid. Punch your ticket to the World Series, especially before your home crowd. These fans have been waiting a long time. They deserve it.