The Royals go for the sweep while the Giants attempt to take a commanding 3-1 lead in two series that have certainly not lacked in drama.
It may be an evenly matched series with games going down to final few at-bats, but that doesn't change the fact that the Royals have a commanding 3-0 lead are looking to finish off the sweep at home on Wednesday afternoon.
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A look at one game in the life of the Royals' supposed weak spot.
Recap: The Orioles jumped ahead but only by a run, Jeremy Guthrie was better than expected, the Royals erased the lead in the middle innings, jumped out ahead in the sixth, their defense and bullpen shut things down from the seventh on, and the Royals are up three games to none. In a postgame press conference, Guthrie took to wearing a taunting shirt based on the worst, I mean really the worst pop song of the year. He can get away with it because the Royals are about to go to the World Series and everybody except the Orioles and a few Angels fans is happy about it. Considering it was a 2-1 game in an LCS, it wasn’t all that interesting of a game. Lorenzo Cain made a nice catch. Mike Moustakas made a nice catch. Some more people on Twitter made Wil Myers jokes. Home sweep home, how sweep it is, ain't glove the sweepest thing, from the outhouse to the penthouse sweep. That’s the recap. Forgive me if I’m not inspired to do more, strict-recapwise.
The emergence of Andrew Miller was a slow burn that happened right in front of us. How much should we have seen coming?
Where the Tigers and Dodgers and Nationals and A's have failed this offseason, the Orioles haven't, and won't, because their manager can call for Andrew Miller. The 2014 postseason has been a tragic and entertaining reminder that bullpens are in fact important, and that elite bullpens—or at least bullpens that perform elitely—can cover for other deficiencies on a roster. Miller has arguably been the best reliever so far this postseason, which shouldn’t come as a surprise unless you opted to not watch any baseball over the previous seven months.
The Fightin' Showalters against the Yosts with the Mosts.
Since 2000, only one AL team has won fewer games than the Baltimore Orioles. Think you can guess who that team is? Answer at the bottom of th-- nah, just kidding, you know who it is. So here they are in the ALCS, and one will go to the World Series. No team in this century plays like the Royals do, so any matchup will be an odd pairing, but this one in particular pits two teams with different philosophies, different strategies, different offensive approaches, different men at the helm. Except neither team draws any walks. Admit it: That's not the worst thing in the world at a time of the season when games start pushing four hours for no good reason at all. Here's how the showdown shapes up:
What makes a moment slow-motionable? What makes a moment made for soft focus and sepia? What will make you cry this month? It's complicated.
Throughout the playoffs, sportswritin' fella Miles Wray will be writing for us about the production of postseason baseball. What Miles takes that vague phrase to mean will be as much of a surprise to me as it will be to you. Here’s his first piece.
Octoberness, along with all of playoff baseball, is something just slightly separate from regular baseball; not necessarily better or worse so much as easier to recall, easier to retell, easier to manipulate. Regular baseball is feeling your arms sunburn as the losing manager slowly strolls out to pull another reliever in an 8-2 game. Octoberness is David Ortiz launching a ball over the Monstah at midnight, his breath misting in the air as he rounds the bases. Regular baseball is Aramis Ramirez. Octoberness is David Freese.
The Orioles pulled off an unexpected take-down of the Tigers in three games and the finale had numerous big moments.
Of all the possible outcomes in the Orioles-Tigers series, none seemed less likely than an O's sweep. Baltimore faced unfavorable match-ups at every turn, as would most teams pitted against three consecutive former Cy Young winners. But reality often defies expectations, so why would this series be any different? Three eventful games later, the surprising O's are headed for the ALCS.
Once again, the Tigers suspect bullpen loomed large in a loss to the Orioles, but did their manager put them in the best position to succeed?
Game Two of the 2014 ALDS featured a lot of starting pitchers, at least as defined by their regular season roles. Wie-Yin Chen and Justin Verlander only pitched 3 2/3 and 5 innings respectively. As a result, each team went with a starting pitcher as their first pitcher out of the bullpen. All four pitchers (Chen, Verlander, Kevin Gausman, and Anibal Sanchez) pitched excellently their first time through the order. While Sanchez was pulled after facing six hitters, the other three all got to take a shot at their opponent’s lineup a second time and, in Verlander’s case, a thirds time. Those results were bad.
The Tigers face off with the Orioles in a series that features two rosters with very different strengths and weaknesses.
A series between opposites pits the preseason favorite Tigers against the anything-but-preseason-favorite Orioles. The two teams differ in a few other noteworthy ways—one has a veteran manager, excels at defense, and uses a strong bullpen to brace a shaky rotation; the other is led by a rookie manager, struggles at defense, and begs its rotation to minimize its shaky bullpen. Which style will prevail and advance to the ALCS? Let's find out. (Note: Neither team's Divisional Series roster is set, so we'll update the article when the names are officially announced.)
Is there any good reason not to take the Orioles as seriously as the other contenders?
With their victory on Tuesday, the Orioles clinched the American League East for the first time since 1997. By any measure, the O's are a top-five team. Baltimore ranks second in the majors in wins, fourth in run differential, and fifth in third-order and Pythagorean winning percentages. Consistency? April was their only sub-.500 month. Peaking late? Doesn't matter, but they've won 39 of their 57 post-break games. It's enough to make even stolid Buck Showaltersmile—well, almost. Yet impressive credentials notwithstanding, few seem to consider the Orioles a legitimate World Series contender.