ALCS Preview – Royals Look to Run Away from Hard-Hitting Orioles
John BensonNo comments
Officially, it’s the NLCS that features the Giants; but, on paper, it’s the ALCS that looks like a David versus Goliath affair, as the spunky Royals take on the bruising Orioles. The former is a quick team built on small ball, while the latter can overpower opponents with long home runs and strong pitching. Neither team has been to the World Series in almost 30 years and both fan-bases are starving for a winner.
Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who was on the Orioles from 2007 through 2011, likes his club’s chances.
“Obviously, we’ll be asked to keep the Orioles in check in terms of their power and the big inning. On the flip side, the Orioles pitchers will be asked to try and keep our guys off base and not allow us to string together a couple of hits to get us runs,” said Guthrie.
Added Royals DH Billy Butler, “Speed. That’s what we do. Obviously you have to be smart about it, but we’re a very aggressive team. When our speed guys get on they like to go. That’s what got us to this point. That, and pitching and defense.”
The Orioles stand in stark contrast to the Royals. Baltimore doesn’t steal many bases – in fact the team was last in the MLB with only 44 – but can hit the long ball. Baltimore was tops in baseball this season hitting 211 home runs. To put things into perspective, Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz hit 40 dingers this season on his own, while the Royals were the only squad in the majors to hit fewer than 100.
Still, Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones isn’t taking the Royals lightly. He said, “The Royals can hit home runs. They just play in a big ballpark. They’ve got guys who can drive the ball, and we’ve also got guys who can run. In our ballpark it brings a different dynamic because it’s smaller, in their ballpark, it brings a different dynamic because it’s bigger. But we’ve got some hairy guys on our team. If we’re hitting in the Grand Canyon, we can still put ‘em out.”
The series opener features both teams’ de facto aces, James Shields (1-0, 4.91 postseason) and Chris Tillman (1-0, 3.60 postseason). Though it’s obviously a small sample size, Shields has not been able to reproduce his regular season numbers this post-season, while Tillman is almost always solid, but rarely lights-out. Taking the over, which sits at 7, is an appealing play.