It is safe to say that many did not have high expectations for the Baltimore Orioles or the Kansas City Royals this season – including the playoffs. On Thursday night, both teams shocked the baseball world in equally impressive ways.
Sure, the Orioles scored 12 runs on the Detroit Tigers, but that isn’t the most impressive stat from their startling evening. The Orioles left only three runners on base the entire evening. That’s remarkable, and proof that Buck Showalter is getting the most out of his players.
Five of the team’s 12 hits were extra base hits, as the team went 6-11 with runners in scoring position. In comparison, the Tigers went 0-2 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.
The Baltimore crowd was electric throughout the entire evening, and the team was feeding from the energy throughout the stadium. “I kept waiting for them to open the gates during BP,” said Showalter. “We were getting ready to invent another group to hit, but that was fun when everybody came in. I don’t care how much you do this, you do feed off that. If you don’t get that, you’re way too cold for this time of year.”
For the Orioles, gaining such momentum going forward will be a tremendous boost throughout the rest of the ALDS. As they have shown all season long, Baltimore’s roster is incredibly deep and capable of defeating any opponent. From their stellar starting pitching (one run in five innings) to their gutsy bullpen (one run in four innings), the Orioles have the ability to out-pitch and out-hit any team.
The Tigers have to be scratching their heads this morning as they saw their ace Max Scherzer hit hard (five earned runs), but their bullpen hit even harder (six earned runs). Meanwhile, their bats fizzled out following the back to back homers by Victor and JD Martinez in the second inning. If the Tigers don’t find a way to slow down the surging Orioles, it could be a quick series.
You know things are going your way when your team is held without a hit for five consecutive innings and yet you still find a way to win the game. That is what happened Thursday night for the Kansas City Royals. After being held without a hit from the sixth inning through the 10th, Mike Moustakas led off the 11th with the game-winning home run.
Jared Weaver allowed two runs and three hits over seven stellar innings for the Angels while Jason Vargas three six strong innings allowing just three hits and two runs as well. The two teams combined for fewer hits in 11 innings (8) than the entire Orioles’ team collected in eight innings (12).
This game was fantastic from the start – full of fantastic defense by both teams and remarkable pitching. Combined, the two teams allowed just eight hits, five runs and struck out 16 in 22 full innings. For baseball fans, it was an intense and fantastic game to enjoy.
The win for the Royals was yet another magical night just two days after their historic come from behind victory in Kansas City. For Ned Yost‘s club, the win was another testament to their focus and drive. A young team with the mindset that they are never truly out of a game is hard to find, but that is exactly what this team has. Every night features a new hero – on the mound, in the field or at the plate. Like the Orioles, the success of the Royals is a true team effort.
Perhaps Angel’s manager Mike Scioscia said it best – “This game was not won and lost in that 11th inning, this game was won by Kansas City with four incredible defensive plays.”
If Thursday evening’s game is an early indication of what to expect in the remaining games of this series, fans are in for an exciting adventure. The parity between these two clubs is stunning. While the Angels may have more household names on their roster, the talent level of the two clubs is very similar.
While anything is possible in game two, the Royals managed to take game one in an exciting fashion to set the tone for the rest of the series.
Cover Photo: Jonathan Newton/Washington Post
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