The Royals are just three wins away from a pennant, which seems crazy to me. They have to do no better than split the next six games to be crowned American League Champions and see Ned Yost managing the Midsummer Classic, asking Miguel Cabrera to lay down a bunt against the National League. These are strange days people.
The Royals flexed their muscle last night and really outplayed the Orioles. I think most Royals fans would think tonight's game is just gravy, as at worst this team will have one win under their belt heading back to Kansas City for three games. But a win today would be huge for the Royals and demoralizing for the Orioles. Remember, we have Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas going the next two games, and although they're not terrible pitchers, the edge probably swing back to Baltimore for those two games in the pitching column.
Yordano Ventura goes for the Royals this afternoon, with a chance to show a national audience his 100 mph fastball. Ventura has 17 strikeouts and just 3 walks in 14 1/3 innings against them this year, with the only runs allowed coming off a two-run Nelson Cruz home run back on May 15.
Bud Norris gets the call for the Orioles. He won 15 games for Baltimore with a 3.65 ERA, but a less than impressive FIP of 4.22. Norris gave up just one run over 7 1/3 innings against the Royals on May 17, but struck out just one hitter and lost 1-0. His strikeout rates have plunged since being acquired by the Orioles, although he has improved his walk rate considerably. Norris has struggled against left-handers in his career, but has improved that performance this year due to an improved change-up. Norris has also improved this year with runners on base, which is curious, but perhaps the Royals running ways can get in his dome.
Here are the lineups:
Get The Gang Together Lineup: Escobar 6, Aoki 9, Cain 8, Hosmer 3, Butler DH, Gordon 7, Perez 2, Infante 4, Moustakas 5, Ventura 1. #royals— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) October 11, 2014
Caleb Joseph tossed out 40% of would-be basestealers this year, so he's an upgrade behind the dish, although it may not matter if Jonathan Schoop is allowed to push runners off the bag.