The late hitting magic of the Kansas City Royals was at work again in a 6-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles with late & clutch hits by Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain to take a 2-0 lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS, while the San Francisco Giants won the opening game of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals mostly due to the excellent pitching and start from Madison Bumgarner.
No one has been able to explain this late game magic from the Royals through this postseason. A team of destiny is term people love to throw around. But maybe it’s just a talented group of players that reach higher focus levels with the pressure rising as well. No extra innings this time, “just” the ninth inning. No home runs this time (at least not to win the game) – just RBIs from Escobar with a double followed by a single from Cain to pull away from the Orioles, who managed to hold the lead for a short time before once again seeing Darren O’Day and Zach Britton allow the game to slip away from them.
The Royals gave themselves a huge boost to make the World Series for the first time since 1985. The last 11 teams to win the first two games of the LCS on the road since 1985 also went on to play in the World Series, the last of them being the Detroit Tigers in 2012. Mike Moustakas, who found a hard time explaining what’s been going so right for them late in games, hit his fourth home run of the postseason. Three of them have come on the road, going distances that wouldn’t have gave him a home run if he had hit them on his own home turf.
Lorenzo Cain did finish with just one RBI, but he had a four hit game, something very rare in Royals history. George Brett has the other two 4-hit games for the Royals in the playoffs, both coming in that 1985 postseason: Once in the ALCS and the other one in game 7 of the World Series which the Royals won. Cain is hitting a .370 so far in the postseason with an OPS of .881, three extra base hits and four RBIS.
Madison Bumgarner lost control of a game the last time he was on the mound for the Giants but that didn’t cost them the series against the Washington Nationals, so it didn’t stick with him. In the opening game of the 2014 NLCS, he put on a very impressive performance with only four hits allowed in 7.2 innings while striking out seven batters, getting just enough run support early on from his teammates to walk away with another road win for the Giants.
Travis Ishikawa opened the scoring with a single in the second while the bases were loaded, and an error from Matt Carpenter kept the barrel rolling as Hunter Pence capitalized on it. Adam Wainwright managed to get out of that jam eventually, but in the third inning a sacrifice fly from Brandon Belt allowed Buster Posey to score. Wainwright didn’t complete five innings, while the Cardinals finished with a terrible 4-for-30 at the plate.
Santiago Casillas closed the game for the Giants, who have won seven consecutive road games in the postseason. That’s tied for the fourth longest streak of wins when playing away from home, while three different Yankees teams hold the top 3 spots. Pablo Sandoval finished with three hits for the Giants while Brandon Belt picked up his sixth RBI of the postseason for the Giants, leading the team, one more than Brandon Crawford. Belt is hitting .364 with a .964 OPS so far in the postseason.