The Kansas City Royals ended the longest current postseason drought in North American Big Four sports, then won a multi-come-from-behind thriller in 12 innings over Oakland to earn the right to play the team with the best record in baseball. Now ace James Shields should be available for only one start in the ALDS. The teams split six games this season, both winning two of three at home.
The Angels have the best player in the game in Mike Trout, two former postseason heroes in Albert Pujols and David Freese, a terrific, deep bullpen and a proven manager. So what’s not to like? Only two things could prevent the Angels from advancing: A disappearing act by Trout in his first postseason experience; or sketchy starting pitching beyond Jered Weaver getting exposed.
Momentum is on the Royals’ side, if that really means anything. The players have been playing under playoff pressure for more than a month now, so there should be no problem finding that edge. The Angels have been on cruise control for about a month. Can they find that extra gear needed to win in October?
The Angels outhomered the Royals 10-1 in their six head-to-head meetings this season…The Royals were seven of eight in stolen base attempts against the Angels. The Royals must generate offense with speed and doubles in the gaps…Shortstop Alcides Escobar had four of the Royals’ seven steals…The Angels kept Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler in check this season. The three combined to bat just .217 with two extra-base hits over the six games this season.
Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the game, batted .409 with three bombs in the six games against Kansas City this season…Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain was in the middle of much of the offensive excitement for the Royals in their wild card win over Oakland. He batted .370 with 16 total bases in the six games vs. Los Angeles this season…The Royals have been so good closing out wins this season. Closer Greg Holland and setup man Wade Davis combined to throw seven scoreless innings against Los Angeles this season without allowing a hit.
Prediction: Angels in 3