This is probably the hardest thing for me to write since starting Fan-i back in 2012. The Kansas City Royals continue their hot-streak by sweeping my beloved Orioles, claiming the American League title and advancing to the World Series for the first time in 29 years.
I have to tip my hat to the Royals, they outplayed the Orioles in every aspect of the game, from hitting, fielding, and pitching. They didn't use any stolen bases to sweep the O's but they did hit more home runs than the O's, 4-2, which is crazy being that the O's were ranked 1st in home runs while the Royals were last.
That stat alone expresses how much the series was just in the Royals favor. The O's did miss out on plenty of opportunities, which to me is the story of the series. The O's were outscored 18-12 in this series which isn't bad at all. They never lost by more than two runs, and the final two games had a total of 6 runs between both teams.
In Camden Yards the O's were getting hits but couldn't stop the Royals from hitting, it was the complete opposite in Kansas City. The Orioles were 1-4 with runners in scoring position between games 3 & 4, which is terrible. Going 1-4 is bad, but having only 4 opportunities to score is even worse. Kansas City on the other hand, went 0-12 with runners in scoring position. Now I'm happy that the defense held up to keep them 0-12 but 12 opportunities to our 4 doesn't sit well with me.
The Royals are desert hot right now. They are now 8-0 in the postseason and has eliminated the two best teams in the American League. Watching them in the O's series, I noticed how everything was just going their way. They're still making great plays, especially the outfielders, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Norichika Aoki, but certain plays made me believe that they're the team of destiny. Multiple times this series, the O's hit the ball directly to a player in the Royals in-field, sometimes they didn't even have to move to make the catch. Never once could the O's catch a break.
It will be interesting to see if that momentum will carry into the World Series for the Royals and whether the six day lay-off will hurt them.
Giants are reminding me of 2012 when they won it all. Even though they lost a couple games, they also have some great momentum going for them. Giants have only loss two this postseason, winning their 8th straight playoff series. This will be the third time since 2010 that the Giants will be in the World Series, currently 2-0; Do I smell a dynasty?
Even though the series ended 4-1 for the Giants, it was still entertaining. Both teams were playing very good baseball, but just like the Royals, the Giants continued to make that one extra play to win the game. Travis Ishikawa walk-off home run describes this series perfectly, and what a horrible way too lose. Just like in Game 4, the Cardinals had a lead, except this time they lost it between the 8th and 9th inning.
Game 4, the Cardinals had a 4-3 lead going into the 6th inning until the Giants scored three runs and took the lead 6-4. Game 5, the Cards had a 3-2 lead in the 4th inning, and it lasted until the 8th inning. That's when things got crazy.
Pinch hitter, Michael Morse hit a solo home run to tie the ball game. When he got to the dugout, he told the team that it felt like he floated around the bases.
The Giants didn't let up there though. The 2013 NLCS MVP, Michael Wacha, entered the game in the 9th inning after Pat Neshek gave up the churches money in the 8th, but he didn't do any better. Wacha gave up a leadoff single to Pablo "Trey Ball Panda" Sandoval, walked Brandon Belt, and gave up the game winning home run to Travis Ishikawa. Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny, even tipped his hat to the Giants after that magical moment.
Just like the Royals, the Giants was just the better team. Both series were closer than what the numbers show. Giants had to fight in this series, especially in these last two games. The only win they may have been easy was game 1, where Madison Bumgarner shutout the Cards for 7 2/3 innings. Today he pitchesd for 8 solid innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs. Bumgarner also gave up his first 2 home run of the postseason, but despite that, he still manged to win NLCS MVP.
So Giants-Royals is what we will be witnessing, the cliche David and Goliath matchup. Royals are flaming hot, coming in undefeated, but the Giants are 15-2 in their last 17 playoff games. Both teams have been consistent this postseason but the Giants have a lot more experience, with 5 players apart of the 2010 & 2012 Wold Series rosters (Lincecum, Bumgarner, Posey, Sandoval, Romo) and manager Bruce Bochy.
Both teams are wild-cards and both have the same style of play. Giants don't steal bases as well as the Royals but their base-running is grade A. Giants has the better pitching with Madison Bumgarner, who is putting in his claim for best pitcher in the league. Royals have the athleticism, and may have the better outfield, but I think this series will be played inside-out.
The Royals has been relying on their bullpen and they will have to do it once again. Inexperience hasn't been an issue for the Royals so far but they haven't played a team like the Giants, who has more experince than anyone on the postseason. Next would be the Cardinals but they were eliminated by the Giants. This series will be determined by big plays, and it could end in less than 6. The unstoppable force meets the immovable objects.