AL Championship Series Preview: Orioles (96-66) v. Royals (89-73)


After a week off it’s time to start the American League Championship Series between two teams looking for their first World Series appearance since the 80’s (Orioles 1983, Royals 1985). This series will also feature the AL’s leading home run team against the one that hits the least in addition it’ll be a team that steals bases versus one that doesn’t.

Ned Yost and his Royals begin the ALCS tonight against Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Photo Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

Buck Showalter against Ned Yost is a match-up in itself given Showalter is known for his in-game tactics, while Yost isn’t. This seems to be an even match-up between these clubs which should make for a closely contested ALCS. The series will be a 2-3-2 format with four games in Baltimore and three straight in Kansas City.

Probable Pitching Match-ups:
ALCS Game 1 (Friday, October 10), 7 pm: James Shields/RHP (14-8, 3.21) v. Chris Tillman/RHP (13-6, 3.34)
ALCS Game 2 (Saturday, October 11) 3 pm: Yordano Ventura (14-10, 3.20) v. TBD
ALCS Game 3 (Monday, October 13) 7 pm: TBD v. TBD
ALCS Game 4 (Tuesday, October 14)* 7 pm: TBD v. TBD
ALCS Game 5 (Wednesday, October 15)* 3 pm: TBD v. TBD
ALCS Game 6 (Friday, October 17)* 7 pm: TBD v. TBD
ALCS Game 7 (Saturday, October 18)* 7 pm: TBD v. TBD
* = If necessary

Comments on Pitching Match-ups –
Game 1 – Shields versus Tillman is a match-up of guys who look fairly similar in terms of record and ERA. This season Juego G was 2-0 versus the Birds where the offense scored eight and nine runs in those games. Tillman’s lone victory versus KC was on May 16 which Baltimore won 4-0 at the K.
Game 2 – Ventura will get the ball in game two at Oriole Park this season he’s 1-1 versus Baltimore winning 5-0 and losing 2-1. Showalter hasn’t revealed his starter yet but expect it to be Bud Norris (15-8, 3.65) or Wei-Yin Chen. Chen is 1-0 this season while Norris was 0-1 versus the Royals.
Game 3 – Expect Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.71) to get this start on Monday night. He’ll be opposed by whoever doesn’t start game two of the O’s option.
Game 4 – Jeremy Guthrie (13-11, 4.13) should be penciled in this spot against his former team for game four. Danny Duffy (9-12, 2.53) could be used first in relief here should Guthrie struggle. Miguel Gonzalez (10-9, 3.23) figures to be the fourth starter in this series for Orioles, he was 0-1 this season against KC.
Games five, six and seven starters are to be determined but expect starters from games 1-3 to take these spots.

Series Predictions – In my opinion too much has been made of the Royals speed which is important as it gets the pitchers out of rhythm to a degree. The Royals are a team that hits for contact compared to the Orioles who rely on the long ball. If it comes down to manufacturing runs versus waiting for the home run, I’ll take producing versus waiting for them. Kansas City has faced teams like Baltimore all season and has kept them at bay due their pitching staff. Much has been made about who has the better bullpen and no offense to Andrew Miller, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and closer Zach Britton but I like Cerberus aka Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Both franchises are starved with the O’s not playing in the fall classic since 1983 and our boys in blue 1985. Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are worthy but I love how Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and even Mike Moustakas are playing. Prediction: Royals in six games

2014 Meetings:
These teams met seven times during the regular season with Kansas City taking two of three in Baltimore in April and then squads splitting at Kauffman Stadium in May. The Royals won 5-0 and 9-3 at Oriole Park with a 3-2 defeat in 10-innings. The Orioles took games one and two 2-1, 4-0 before KC bounced back taking the final two 1-0, 8-6.

Franchise History:
The O’s leads the all-time series 260-202 which includes an advantage of 139-90 in Baltimore plus are 59-36 at Camden Yards. In Kansas City the Orioles lead 121-112 however the Royals narrowly hold a 105-104 record at Kauffman Stadium.

TV/Radio Coverage:
TBS will have TV coverage for the entire series between these teams with Ernie Johnson Jr., Ron Darling and Cal Ripken Jr. with Matt Winer on the call.

Radio coverage is available on the Royals Radio Network (610 Sports Radio in KC) beginning an hour before with Josh Vernier. Royals Hall of Famer/2007 Ford C. Frick Award winner Denny Matthews will be joined in the booth by Ryan Lefebvre, Steve Physioc and Steve Stewart.

National Radio coverage is available on ESPN Radio with Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Chris Singleton providing the call.

FOX Sports Kansas City will be live after each game from Anaheim and Rivals at Kauffman Stadium for this series. Joel Goldberg will be joined by Jeff Montgomery, Rex Hudler and Lefebvre for analysis following the conclusion of each game.

Regular Season Series v. Orioles (KC 4-3)
April 25-27, 2014 – Oriole Park at Camden Yards: W 5-0, L 3-2 F/10, W 9-3
May 15-18, 2014 – Kauffman Stadium: L 2-1, L 4-0, W 1-0, W 8-6

Game Notes:
Baltimore Orioles
Kansas City Royals