Well, they did it. For the first time since 1985, the Kansas City Royals will play in a World Series, this after sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS.
Kansas City beat Baltimore, 2-1, in Game 4 on Wednesday to clinch the series. The Royals are 8-0 this postseason, with six wins coming by two runs or fewer, including all four against Baltimore.
“The Royals are built to win in the postseason,” FFLockerRoom.com co-owner Jon Stulberg said on Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s funny because when you look at baseball, everybody wants these big, power-hitting lineups. Everybody loves the three-run homer, and to a certain extent, sometimes that will get you by in the regular season – as evidenced by the fact that the Orioles seem to walk their way through the regular season, whereas the Royals had to struggle to make the playoffs.
“But when you get into the postseason, you’re facing everybody’s best pitcher,” Stulberg continued. “A lot of times they’re power pitchers. In the postseason, everybody’s jacked up, so a guy (who) throws 91 is now throwing 93. You can’t just sit back and wait for the three-run homer. You have to play exemplary defense. You have to have speed. All the things that a GM like Billy Beane says you shouldn’t be doing – never bunt, never give up outs – those are all the things you’re supposed to do in the playoffs. And it’s what the Royals do exceptionally well – and we saw with a clean sweep of how well it was working.”
Baltimore, meanwhile, had an awful series, especially at the plate. After dropping the first two games of the ALCS at home, the Orioles scored just two runs in two games in Kansas City, losing both 2-1. In Wednesday’s clincher, the Royals scored two runs on a fielder’s choice by Eric Hosmer – and made them hold up. The Orioles mustered just seven hits in the final 18 innings of the series.
Ferrall and Stulberg were both surprised that Baltimore manager Buck Showalter agreed to do an in-game interview with the season on the line in Game 4.
“I think that sort of runs contrary to what most people seem to know about Buck Showalter,” Stulberg said. “He seems to be a guy (who’s) a no-B.S. kind of guy. He’s tough but fair. The players love to play for him, but he’s not going to sugarcoat things. I’m very surprised there wasn’t at least one game where they just came charging out of the clubhouse and it didn’t matter if a pitcher threw a perfect pitch low and away; they were going to hit it out to right field. And a guy throws the perfect pitch up and in, you jack it down the left-field line. I’m very surprised by the fact that not only did they not take a game, but (they also didn’t score many runs). They were listless for all nine innings.”