Kansas City Royals meet Baltimore Orioles for AL Title
By Ian Palmer
The American League pennant is still up for grabs and not many experts predicted it would come down to the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles made the postseason by winning the American League East Division quite handily by 12 games over the New York Yankees. The Royals made it as a wildcard team after finishing second in the Central Division, just one game behind the Detroit Tigers.
The Royals then played a one-game wildcard showdown and came back from a 7-3 deficit in the eighth inning and an 8-7 disadvantage in the 12th to beat the Oakland Athletics 9-8 in 12 dramatic innings. Kansas went on to sweep the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS while Baltimore did the same to the Detroit Tigers in their divisional series. The American League Championship Series is a best-of-seven affair and gets underway in Baltimore on Friday, October 10.
The Bovada baseball betting lines look like this:
- To win ALCS: -150
- To win World Series: 11/5
Kansas City Royals:
- To win ALCS: +120
- To win World Series: 13/4
Between the Royals and Orioles, it’s been a combined 46 years since they’ve appeared in the American League Championship Series (ACLS). The last time the Royals made it this far was back in 1985 when they went all the way to win the World Series. For the Orioles, it’s their first appearance in the ACLS since 1997. The winner of course, will be headed to the World Series to take on either the St. Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants.
Kansas City swept the West Division champion Los Angeles Angels in three straight in the their divisional series and that enabled them to get a couple of extra days of rest. It also means their ace James Shields will be ready to pitch the first game of the series. Shields was 14-8 in the regular season with an ERA of 3.21. He also had the same 3.21 ERA against the Orioles in the regular season and went 2-0 against them. His last start came in the third game of the ALDS when he went six strong innings, scattered six hits and gave up two earned runs in Kansas’ 8-3 win.
The Royals offense has been led by Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas so far in the playoffs and they’ve been stealing bases like crazy with the speed of Terrance Gore, Alex Gordon and Jarrod Dyson. Hosmer is batting .333 by going 5 for 15 and has chipped in with a pair of home runs and five RBIs. Moustakas is batting .286 with two homers and Escobar is hitting at a .278 clip by going 5-for-18. The Royals have stolen 12 bases in the postseason with Gore and Gordon accounting for half of them. The Kansas City pitching staff was in top form against the Angels as Los Angeles, who led the league with 773 runs this season, managed just six in their divisional series.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter hasn’t confirmed his starting pitcher for game one, but it could be Chris Tillman, who pitched the opener in the series against Detroit. Tillman had a 2.54 ERA at home this year along with a 5-5 record in 18 starts. He was 13-6 in the regular season with a 3.34 ERA and he also beat the Tigers 12-3 in game one of the ALDS. Whoever pitches for the Orioles, they’ll be glad to know they won’t be facing many power hitters in the Royals lineup. Kansas managed a Major League low 95 home runs during the regular season and their .376 slugging percentage ranked number 19.
The Orioles are an excellent defensive team and finished the season with a fielding percentage of 98.6. Also, three of Baltimore’s outfielders were in the top-20 when it came to outfield assists this year. These were Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Alejandro De Aza. When it comes to power, Baltimore is the opposite of the Royals as they led the Majors in home runs with 211 this season with Nelson Cruz belting 40 of them.
Since Chris Davis is unlikely to play in the ALCS due to a failed drug test, the Orioles will be suiting up four players who hit a minimum of 15 homers this campaign. Jones had 29 while Steve Pearce hit 21, and Jonathan Schoop chipped in with 16. Davis had 26 homers and 72 RBIs when he was suspended. If Shields takes to the mound for Kansas in game one he’ll need to be careful since he’s given up three homers already in this year’s playoffs.
Kansas went 89-73 during the regular season while the Orioles were 96-66. They played each other a total of seven times with Kansas City winning the series 4-3.
MLB ALCS Schedule
- Game 1 – Friday, October 10, Kansas City Royals vs Baltimore Orioles
- Game 2 – Saturday, October 11, Kansas City Royals vs Baltimore Orioles
- Game 3 – Sunday, October 13, Baltimore Orioles vs Kansas City Royals
- Game 4 – Monday, October 14, Baltimore Orioles vs Kansas City Royals
- Game 5 – Wednesday, October 15, Baltimore Orioles vs Kansas City Royals
- Game 6 – Friday, October 17, Kansas City Royals vs Baltimore Orioles
- Game 7 — Saturday, October 18, Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles
Kansas City Royals Regular-Season Team Leaders
- Home Runs: Alex Gordon – 19
- RBIs: Alex Gordon – 74
- Hits: Alcides Escobar – 165
- Batting Average (over 450 at bats): Lorenzo Cain .301
- Pitching wins: James Shields 14-8
- ERA-(over 74 innings): Wade Davis 1.00 (9-2)
Baltimore Orioles Regular-Season Team Leaders
- Home Runs: Nelson Cruz – 40
- RBIs: Nelson Cruz – 108
- Hits: Adam Jones – 181
- Batting Average (over 335 at bats): Steve Pearce -.293
- Pitching wins: Wei-Yin Chen – 16-6
- ERA (over 65 innings): Zach Britton – 1.65