Leftridge: ALCS Gets Under Way Friday, or Maybe Saturday

2014_alcs_logoShould the weather comply (and most meteorological types seem to think that it will NOT), the Royals will begin play Friday night against the dreaded Baltimore Orioles to determine who will represent the American League in the World Series, and who will begin their exotic vacations a little later than originally anticipated. (Or earlier than anticipated for the optimists in the crowd.)

We all know that Kansas City hasn’t been to the World Series since they beat the Cardinals in 1985. For their part, Baltimore hasn’t been in some time, either. Their last appearance—dubbed the I-95 Series—saw them beat the Philadelphia Phillies in 1983. It was their third WS trophy.

(But before we shed a tear for the Orangebirds, let us not pretend that they’ve been bereft of opportunity; this is their fourth postseason jaunt since the ’83 title. The Royals, of course, are making their first return to October baseball since they won it all.)

Anyway, this is one of those “something’s got to give” things, I guess.

With that in mind, here’s what Kansas City can do to crush the dreams of all those soft-shell crab enthusiasts. (That’s what they’re into, right? I gotta be honest, Maryland is an absolute mystery to me. And I’m fine with that.)

davisdrugsLimit Damage Inflicted by Nelson Cruz and Adam Jones. With Matt Wieters, Chris Davis and Manny Machado all blessedly and officially on the shelf (Davis—who is good because of drugs—is eligible for reinstatement in time for Game 6, but all signs indicate he will NOT be activated), the Orioles’ lineup isn’t super intimidating. I mean, DAVID FUCKING LOUGH is their left fielder for crying out loud. But Cruz (who is also good because of drugs) and Jones are formidable foes worthy of an intentional walk each plate appearance. I know it seems simple, but hey, it worked against Mike Trout and Albert Pujols like I said it would, dinnit? (Okay, or they just had a terrible series. Whatever.)

Take your chances against Nick Markakis who is having an uncharacteristically quiet year, or J.J. Hardy because it’s just J.J. Hardy, you guys.

Beat Up the Starters, if at All Possible. The Orioles’ rotation is a lot like the Angels’ rotation in that it is good, but not great. Their bullpen from top to bottom is stronger, though, and it seems unlikely that you’d see a lot of crazy comebacks late in the game. Former Detroit Tigers’ first round pick Andrew Miller is a Wade Davisian style setup man, and closer Zach Britton is as solid as Sears. That said, while they’re still not Davis and Greg Holland, they’re nothing to sneeze at, either.

Take Advantage of Miscues. The Orioles are a really good team defensively. Like, as good as the Royals, by most metrics. They don’t make errors at all. So in the unlikely event that they do, Ned Yost needs to throw Terrence Gore out there and have him steal everything that isn’t nailed down.

alcs-orioles-royals-elite-dailyDance With What Brung You. I said it in the ALDS preview, and I’ll say it again: the Royals need to play their game, period. Just because Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have hit a couple of (very important and awesome) bombs, it doesn’t suddenly mean that this is a power-hitting team. They’ve lived and died by their antiquated, small-ball, early-1900s-National League-style of play. To abandon this tactic now would be a critical error. Because I don’t think Yost is capable of over thinking anything, however, I don’t see this being a problem.

In the end, these are two very evenly matched teams. Baltimore has the more potent offense, but I think pitching and defense—you know, the things that win championships or whatever—err slightly in Kansas City’s favor.

The Royals take this thing in six games, winning the series 4-2.

Royals @ Orioles, Friday 7PM CT (Unless it’s rained out. Which it could be.)

 

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12 Responses to Leftridge: ALCS Gets Under Way Friday, or Maybe Saturday

  1. Jim a.k.a. BWH says:

    Thank Allah you didn’t do a piece on Yost versus Showalter!! This series is going to be won or lost by the PLAYERS, not the managers.

    Nice job, Lefty. Royals in 7.

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      Though an over/under on who is the grumpiest would sell.

    • I felt a little fatigued even mentioning the ’83 vs. ’85 thing. Didn’t want to touch on the first in home runs vs. last in HR thing. Yeah, the Showalter/Yost thing woulda been a whole other basket of worms.

  2. Orphan of the Road says:

    The Baltimore Orioles were my first favorite baseball team, learned from my father. My grandfather had a tryout with the St Louis Browns (left-hand pitcher, farmer in Chariton County) but a wet day and ball meant an end to his career.

    Earl Weaver was the first white-guy to put a ball cap on backwards.

    If the Royals loose, I’ll cheer for the St Louis Browns East.

  3. Kerouac says:

    Far as baseball is concerned and aside from the home plate umps (who wore caps backwards) & catchers same, Weaver ‘lifted’ that hat act from a guy named Max Patkin, known ‘the clown prince of baseball.’ (Weaver was probably also trying to mimic the ump as well be a clown.)

    Patkin (who started his schtick in the 1940’s), is usually credited as being first to wear his cap bass ackwards (Max was an even bigger clown than Earl, which is really saying something.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzaldJfF10A

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEKQUxxrkjY

    More baseball nonsense, subject ‘trick throws’ (think Alex Tanney, the former ‘Trick Shot’ QB, briefly a Chief their practice squad a couple years ago, except this case with an baseball – two and even three balls thrown at a time, link below:)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP51hAopIiY

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      You got me there. How I could forget Max?

      Max was the third Crown Prince of Baseball. Wonder if the others did the hat-thing. I think they were actually managers.

      • Kerouac says:

        Speaking of the later 1960’s Orioles, that is a team that probably should’ve won more Championships than they did. 2 in 5 years is great, but they might have had at least a couple more/should have, my recollection, ’69 Mets team of destiny 9like KC 2014?) and the Reds their Machine even more talented a lot, arguably.

        BALT was talent par excellance though – from ’66 (four-game sweep of my Dodgers) through 1971, hitters Frank and Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell, add Paul Blair, Blefary, Aparicio, Johnson, Belanger & Etchebarren, pitchers Palmer, McNally, Bunker (later a Royal), Barber, Stu Miller & Drabowsky et al, they were loaded.

        Always think of those teams/years as akin to the OAK Raiders the late 60’s and DALL Cowboys same, two pro football teams were loaded with talent, but always came up short, somehow. Still think OAK was better than the Jets or Chiefs ’68 and ’69, and the ’66 and ’67 Cowboys fell too the best team(s) ever GB Packers, albeit with a nod Mother Nature latter, inexperience the former year. Jets were a team of destiny ’68 & the Chiefs were fortunate even make post season, due a special one-year only special wildcard format.

        Ending with the Royals of this modern day, they had a chance to fold last night when they got out to a big lead, only to see BALT come charging back. KC answered & when the Orioles answered right back, Royals said top this, which BALT could not. Should be a great series. While I still lean against KC winning the World Series even should they make it there (the team of destiny factor bowing to the ‘greater experience’ factor post season GIANTS or Cardinals, only Providence or fate knows.

        • Kerouac says:

          * Check that: make that PITT ’71 and not the Reds ’70; Pirates were not more talented arguably, but managed prevail in that evenly matched seven-game series.

  4. Welp, so far so wrong, and I couldn’t be happier. The Royals are playing against type and winning with the long ball. I’ll take it.

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