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The day is finally here. Tonight, the Royals will appear in the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1985, and they’ll have James Shields on the mound. This is what Dayton Moore envisioned when he made The Trade two years ago. This is the moment he’s been waiting for.
This is the moment many of us were skeptical of ever arriving.
With 4 wins in their next 7 games, the Royals can advance to the World Series. Coming into the season, that statement may have sounded ludicrous, but now, it’s reality. The Royals have come so far this year, and they only have a little farther to go.
By now, just about every aspect of this series has been broken down. The pitching matchups. The bullpens. The defenses. The Royals’ speed. The Orioles’ power. It’s all been covered. Of course, with so much analysis, the games are surely going to be decided by defensive miscues or uncharacteristic plays. Such is baseball.
So instead of giving you any more analysis in this spot, here are some relatively bold predictions about the series that will likely end up making me look really dumb, in which case I’ll simply delete the post from the internet since I have that kind of power. If I’m right, though, I’ll repost it as often as possible, because everyone needs positive reinforcement. To the predictions!
The Royals will hit more home runs than the Orioles.
This looks pretty stupid on its surface, but I’m going with it anyway. The Orioles allowed the fourth-most home runs to lefties this season, and the Royals’ most powerful hitters bat from the left side, with Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, and Mike Moustakas. The Royals also will be using right-handed starters in the first two games in Baltimore, which could help neutralize the Orioles’ right-handed sluggers.
Herrera and Davis have gone what seems like a decade without surrendering a dinger, so this just feels like a time for regression to hit. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s really difficult to go this long without giving up a homer, even for a reliever.
A Royal will be picked off a base.
I’m not sure who, but the Orioles know the Royals want to run, and a guy like Chris Tillman has a very good pickoff move, so a TOOTBLAN wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Lorenzo Cain gets at least one infield hit.
Ok, so this isn’t very bold, but I wanted to make sure I got at least one of these right.
The Royals will commit at least one error that allows multiple runs to score.
Kansas City’s defense has been outstanding recently after a rough patch in early September, but this being playoff baseball, I expect some weirdness. It might be a botched double play, or a misjudged fly ball, but I think there could be one moment with some vintage Royaling.
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Ned Yost makes a smart move that backfires.
It seems like since his controversial decision in the 6th inning of the Wild Card game, everything’s been coming up roses for Yost. In this series, Yost has been cast as a rigid manager with no ability to alter his gameplan. As we saw following the Aaron Crow Debacle against Boston, though, Yost will go to Herrera before the 7th inning if need be, but I’m guessing a decision like that doesn’t pan out at some point. Yost will still be criticized.
Alex Gordon has a huge series.
Gordon has looked better in the last few games, and as I mentioned above, the Orioles aren’t quite as good against lefties. Along with Hosmer, Gordon has the most potential to impact this series offensively, and unlike Hosmer, Gordon has shown the ability to hit lefties well. So even if Andrew Miller or Zach Britton are on the mound, Gordon can still have success. I think Gordon hits at least 2 home runs and drives in several more runs.
The Royals defeat the Orioles in 5 games.
This last prediction is probably the boldest prediction I could make. Most people are predicting the series to go 6 or 7 games, and obviously that wouldn’t surprise me, but I see the Royals handling their business a bit more quickly. Shields and Yordano Ventura give the Royals a great chance to win both of the first two games, and if they come back to Kauffman Stadium with a 2-0 lead, I don’t see the series getting back to Baltimore.
Even with slightly lesser starters pitching in games 3 and 4, I think the Royals will be able to scratch enough runs across to take 2 of the 3 home games, with the energy of the raucous crowd at the K behind them. Having Shields back on the bump for a potential series clincher would also be too perfect to not happen.
Beginning tonight, the Royals and Orioles will have the opportunity to make me look really smart. They also have the opportunity to advance to their first World Series in 30 years, as a nice secondary benefit.
These last two days without any games have been a nice chance to catch our collective breath following so much excitement in the last week, but I’m certainly ready for this series to get underway, and to watch some incredibly exciting October baseball.