This postseason, I will not be writing individual game recaps for the Division and Championship series. I will be writing a recap of the clinching game. However, from time to time, I will be "checking in" on the series, giving my thoughts on what has happened so far. The American League Division Series, four games in, has been a delight. Here are my thoughts.
Baltimore Orioles 2, Detroit Tigers 0
We watch the Tigers bullpen implode time and time again in the regular season, but I never really thought much about it when making my ALDS predictions. I thought that manager Brad Ausmus would be super careful with his bullpen, having every guy on a short leash. I was wrong. The Tigers bullpen has imploded twice, once in a one run deficit, and once with a three run lead. Win one of those games and it's a whole new series. I can't see them winning this series right now. They do now get two games at Comerica Park to try and savior their season. FanGraphs still gives them a 20.4 percent chance of winning the ALDS. They'll need all of it.
But it just hasn't been a Tigers implosion that has led to the Orioles success. They are winning games just like how they were in the regular season; with a ton of offense and just enough pitching. When I made my predictions, I believed that that strategy can get you to the postseason, but won't be able to get you through it. I was wrong. The Orioles have a death grip on the Tigers right now, and have been getting clutch hits up and down their lineup. On Friday it was Delmon Young, who hit a double into the left center gap, driving in Nelson Cruz, Steve Pearce, and J.J. Hardy. Baltimore has something special about them that is fun to watch and now are really proving to me that they are legitimate World Series contenders. Of course, they still have to win one more game against these hungry Tigers.
Kansas City Royals 2, Los Angeles Angels 0
The Kansas City Royals are the most fun team to watch right now. I don't know what it is about them, but this team's heart, hustle, and the fact that they haven't been in the postseason since 1985 have made them America's favorite team. They are just one game away from eliminating the Angels, whom many picked to win the World Series this season. And in that game, they have James Shields on the mound. The Royals just have been amazing to watch this postseason. Every game they've played has gone to either 11 or 12 games, and they are right neck and neck with their opponent. Then, in that 11th or 12th inning, they get a clutch hit. Eric Hosmer delivered the blow late last night, hitting a two-run home run in the 11th to give the Royals a 3-1 lead. They would end up winning 4-1. Now the Royals go to Kaufmann Stadium, where they have to win just one out of two to move to the ALCS. FanGraphs believes that they have an 88.3 percent chance of doing that.
The Angels are falling apart. They are trying too hard to score runs. In the first inning of last night's game, Mike Trout reached on a fielder's choice, but then was thrown out trying to steal second. Yordano Ventura, the Royals starter, is one of the toughest pitchers to run on in the majors, as his 100 mph fastball and quick delivery get catcher Salvador Perez the ball very quickly. Trout had only attempted 18 steals throughout this season and was thrown out easily. The Angels need to let the runs come to them. They cannot make things happen. And with their backs against the wall, it is very hard to see them advancing to the ALCS. They need to suck it up and play really good baseball at Kaufmann if they want any chance to win this series.