The 2014 ALCS will feature the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles.
That seems like the headline in a report by The Onion.
Nope. It’s real life. That is actually the matchup in the ALCS this October. Who would believe it? Not one human being on the face of the planet could have called that before the season. 99% of Orioles and Royals fans likely would have even called you crazy if you said that would be the case. Well, it has arrived. Friday, Game 1 will get underway at 8:07pm in Baltimore. It’s been a long time coming since the Camden Yards faithful has seem meaningful baseball in mid-October. It’s been even longer since the Kansas City faithful has seen meaningful baseball even in late September, let alone early and mid-October.
Alright, let’s break down this best-of-seven series.
The Royals are highlighted by their pitching staff, tremendous defense, and National League small ball style of play. They have the best bullpen in baseball, a solid rotation, and speed in the lineup. Ned Yost has taken chances and they have worked all season long. James Shields will pitch Game 1 in Baltimore Friday night. He will be followed by Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, and Jeremy Guthrie. Wade Davis had a scary good year in middle relief with a microscopic 1.00 ERA. Greg Holland was the best closer in the league. Their lineup is scrappy with the likes of Alcides Escobar, Nori Aoki, and Lorenzo Cain and the “power” bats of Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez. They are a fun team to watch.
The Orioles are led by a great bullpen, a solid rotation, and a powerful lineup. Nelson Cruz has been HUGE for them and is so clutch in the playoffs. Adam Jones gets overlooked every year. Nick Markakis is one of the more under-appreciated players in baseball. Steve Pearce has come out of nowhere to be a stud in 2014. Zach Britton has been the diamond in the rough at closer. They have gotten contributions from all their starters that they didn’t play. (cough cough Ubaldo Jimenez). They will throw out Chris Tillman in Game 1, followed by Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez. Notice that none of these pitchers scream Cy Young, but they all have been serviceable for both the Orioles and Royals.
I’m riding the scrappy bunch that has some magic on their side. Maybe it’s my heart picking them because they have been just an awesome story in a city that has not seen playoff baseball in nearly 30 years. I see some deja vu. The Royals won it all the last time they made the playoffs in 1985. I see it happening again in 2014. This should be an awesome series, but I’m taking the boys in blue and white in seven.
ROYALS IN 7