2014 MLB Playoffs
American League Championship Series Game One
Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-3-2
Series Price: Orioles -135 / Royals +115 (odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook)
Oriole Park at Camden Yards – Baltimore, Maryland
Friday, October 10, 2014, 8:07 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
Opening Line: Baltimore (Chris Tillman) -125 / Kansas City (James Shields) +115
Current Line: Baltimore -128 / Kansas City +118
Opening Total: over 7 -110 / under 7 -110
Current Total: over 7 -110 / under 7 -110
Opening Run Line: Orioles -1 1/2 -110 / Royals +1 1/2 -110
Current Run Line: Orioles -1 1/2 +160 / Royals +1 1/2 -190
The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals meet in the American League Championship Series for the right to go to the 2014 World Series. If you had these two preseason long shots advancing this far, you are probably Biff from Back to the Future. Baltimore was 40-1 to win the World Series at the beginning of the season and Kansas City was 50-1.
It has been around 30 years since each of these teams has won the World Series. Baltimore hasn’t won the Series since 1983 and are playing in the ALCS for the first time since they lost to the Cleveland Indians in 1997. Kansas City last won the Series in 1985, and before this season hadn’t even made the playoffs since then.
Kansas City is managed by Ned Yost. The Royals ended their 29 year playoff drought by finishing 89-73, a game behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. Still, KC clinched the top Wild Card spot in the AL playoffs. The Royals beat the Oakland Athletics in the wild card playoff game in extra innings. Kansas City would then upset the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Division series in a surprising 3 game sweep over the team with the best record in baseball in the regular season. The Royals became the first team in MLB history to win their first 3 postseason games in extra innings taking the first two games in Anaheim. Kansas City finished off the sweep 8-3 at home last Sunday.
Baltimore is managed by Buck Showalter. The Orioles went 96-66 in the regular season and won the AL East by 12 games over the New York Yankees. Baltimore swept the Tigers in the ALDS, including a 2-1 win last Sunday in Detroit to finish off the series. Baltimore feasted on Detroit’s weak bullpen to take the series, including scoring 12 runs combined in the 8th inning of the three games.
Kansas City won the regular season series against Baltimore 4-3. However, the two teams haven’t played since mid-May. Four of the seven games were decided by 2 runs or less. The orioles and Royals have never met in the playoffs before.
Kansas City will start James Shields in game one. Shields knows the Orioles very well from his time with the AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays. Shields is 11-7 in his career against the Orioles including 2-0 this season. Shields went 14-8 this season in 34 starts with an ERA of 3.21. He had 180 strikeouts with 44 walks. He had a WHIP of 1.18. Shields is making his third postseason start in 2014. He took a no decision in the playoff game against the Athletics allowing 4 runs in 5 innings with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. Shields won the clinching game against the Angels Sunday allowing 2 runs in 6 innings with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks.
Baltimore will start Chris Tillman in game one. He went 1-0 against Kansas City this season with a 5 hit complete game shutout in a 4-0 win May 16. It was his only shutout of the season. Tillman went 14-8 in the regular season with an ERA of 3.34 with 150 strikeouts and 66 walks. He has a WHIP of 1.00. Tillman started game one against the Tigers. He got the win allowing 2 runs in 5 inning with with 6 strikeouts and a walk. The Orioles broke open a close game with 8 runs in the 8th inning long after Tillman had left the game.
The Kansas City bullpen has been lights out in the post-season so far. Closer Greg Holland hasn’t allowed a run in 4 post-season innings with 7 strikeouts and 3 walks. He has 2 saves. Jason Frasor, Danny Duffy and Brandon Finnegan each have picked up a post-season win and have only allowed one run between the 3 of them in 7 innings pitched. Finnegan is an interesting story because the rookie pitched for TCU in the College World Series in June of this year.
The Baltimore bullpen has also been solid in the post-season. Closer Zach Britton has 2 saves and has allowed one post-season run in 2.1 innings pitched. Andrew Miller hasn’t allowed a run in 3.1 innings pitched and has 2 holds.
Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer has 7 hits in 14 at bats with 2 home runs and 5 RBI”s in the post-season. He has also scored 5 runs in the playoffs. Third baseman Mike Moustakas has 4 hits including 2 homers. Left Fielder Alex Gordon has driven in 4 runs so far in the playoffs. Gordon has stolen 3 bases as well. It is no surprise that the small ball Royals have 12 stolen bases in the playoffs.
Baltimore designated hitter Nelson Cruz has 6 hits in 12 at bats and has 2 home runs with 5 RBI’s. Cruz hit a two run homer in the sixth inning of game three against the Tigers that proved to be the game winner. Nick Markakis and Delmon Young have each driven in 3 runs in the post-season. Baltimore is playing without 1B Chris Davis, 3B Manny Machado and catcher Matt Wieters who are out indefinitely.
This is a battle of speed versus power. It isn’t that the Royals aren’t capable of hitting home runs, but more they would prefer to advance the runners and get on base. Both teams have a solid rotation and a good bull pen. I think Kansas City is playing slightly better, and I like them to win in six games.
Get our best baseball picks now for the rest of the post-season. Let us help you crush the books.