Kansas City Royals Still in Drivers Seat of ALCS
By David Hill
Well, so much for the potential humor of the Kansas City Royals trying to get 35 drunk ballplayers through customs as they headed back from Canada. Now, if the Royals are to win the American League pennant for the second consecutive year, they will need to do so in the friendly confines of Kauffman Stadium.
Yet, all things considered, this foray to the frozen tundra filled with glaciers, hockey rinks and Tim Horton restaurants that one expects Canada to be was a success. The Royals only needed to capture one game from the Blue Jays, and they did exactly that in their 14-2 drubbing of Toronto in Game Four. While it would have been great to batter the Blue Jays again in Game Five, and either have some momentum or win the pennant outright, the sky is not falling.
Instead, the Royals will get a raucous crowd at Kauffman Stadium to back them up as they look to punch their ticket for a second consecutive World Series berth. Yordano Ventura, who has earned his postseason stripes, will be on the mound against David Price. While Ventura has proven that the glare of the postseason spotlight is not too much for him, the same cannot be said of the Blue Jays ace. In his 13 postseason appearances, Price is 2-7 with a 5.24 ERA, failing to win any of his seven starts.
Given Price’s postseason history, and what should be a raucous atmosphere at Kauffman Stadium, it may be fair to wonder if he will be able to withstand the pressure of carrying the Blue Jays season on his shoulders. he has yet to do so as a starter at any other point in time, and if the Royals bats can get going early, that doubt may creep in once more.
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The Kansas City Royals accomplished everything that they needed to in Canada. All they needed was to make certain that they won one of those three games, and in doing so, the pressure is squarely on the Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, they won the first of three consecutive games that they needed to advance, but will they be able to replicate the performance of the Royals thirty years ago and take those final two games on the road?
All it may take for the Royals to advance is for a quick start. Should the Royals jump on Price early in Game Six, the Blue Jays doubts may surface once more. The Royals have proven that they can come back in any game, but the Blue Jays have yet to rally against Kansas City. Given the Royals bullpen strength, they may not be able to.
The Kansas City Royals are still in the driver’s seat. They did what they needed to do in Toronto, and now, it is time to punch that ticket to the World Series at home.