The ALCS is upon us, and judging by the image above, I think we’ve all had way too long to prepare for this series.
Personally, I’ve been prepared since Sunday night. I refused to leave the Kauffman Stadium parking lot following our sweep of the Angels. The crowd erupted and so did the sky as it poured down rain and flashed lightning. It was like the whole universe was celebrating with us in the parking lot. There was no where to go (not that the traffic would’ve allowed it anyway) because there was no where else anyone would rather be.
At one point, in my raucous celebrating, I high fived a stranger and we accidentally hit elbows before we hit hands. I owe some poor guy out there an apology: Sir, if your forearm aches as badly as mine has over the last four days, I’m truly sorry. Although, gotta ask yourself, was it worth it?
We’ve gone four days now without Royals baseball, and the coverage both locally and nationally has been exhaustive. The national media has latched on to the Royals’ speed and how the Orioles are going to keep them from running wild. They’ve compared our lineups, our bullpens, our starters and our benches. They’ve started discussing whether the Royals will make a run at resigning James Shields for 2015 and beyond.
They’ve also finally noticed that Lorenzo Cain exists, which is a little disappointing to me because I loved him first. Sigh. This is probably how people who listen to Alt Nation on SiriusXM feel about music all the time.
Also, Lorenzo: congrats on Baby Cameron. I don’t even care that you gave him a nod-to-self middle name in “Loe.” I hope he and Nash Holland grow up to be best buds someday.
At this point, all the deep analysis that can be done has been done. We’ve exhausted our story lines. Now it’s time to play the games and laugh when a fielding error or wild pitch or swinging bunt determines the outcome of the game instead of an Orioles home run or a Royals stolen base. At a certain point, baseball is unpredictable. (Don’t believe me? Just check my postseason predictions. Triple woof.)
So how about some not-really-grounded-on-anything ALCS predictions that are probably a little bit wacky, but that could happen nonetheless, to get us revved up for Game 1 tonight in Baltimore? Some are wackier than others. Here we go.
Prediction 1: Steve Pearce has a miserable series at the plate for the O’s.
First of all, who is this guy? Pearce has gone from a nobody to arguably the Orioles MVP in 2014. Before this year, Pearce had never posted a WAR higher than 0.5 in his 7 year career. In fact, in three of those years he posted a negative WAR.
This year? He leads the team with a 6.0 WAR.
Which is just goofy, because again, who is this guy? And it’s fair that we don’t know who he is in KC because the Royals have never faced him this year. He played in 102 games, and none of them were against Kansas City. Lifetime against the Royals pitching staff: 6 plate appearances against Vargas (1-5, 1B, BB), 0-1 vs Wade Davis and 0-1 vs Jason Frasor. Frasor is the only one who faced him this year and that was back on July 1 when Frasor was with the Rangers.
From what I can tell, Pearce waits for his pitch, and if he doesn’t get it he either walks or strikes out. He likes the ball up in the zone. So as long as we can keep the ball down and get ahead in the count, Pearce is going to have a long series.
Prediction 2: Adam Jones homers off of Kelvin Herrera tonight.
Seems preposterous to think that anyone from the Royals bullpen would give up a home run at this point. They’ve been locked in all year. But here’s how I think it will go down.
Jones has great numbers against Shields: .304/.319/.522. He’s seen him a lot too since they used to be AL East rivals when James was with the Rays. My prediction: Ned Yost pulls Shields in the 7th and brings in Herrera to pitch the righty Jones. It’s the right move too: Jones is 1-6 with 2 Ks against Herrera and the 7th belongs to him anyway.
But Yost has to get yelled at for something, and this will be it. Hope I’m wrong.
Prediction 3: Eric Hosmer comes back to Earth while Alex Gordon leaves it.
Hosmer can’t sustain this kind of postseason success at the plate. Just no way. Alex Gordon got a giddy up off his huge triple in Game 3 of the Division Series. I’m predicting Hosmer regresses significantly while Gordon blasts off. Just feels right.
They both have terrific numbers against the entire pitching staff. Especially Wei-Yin Chen. This isn’t based on anything at all. Just a hunch. Feels like Gordon’s time.
Prediction 4: Christian Colon plays the hero at some point this series.
I’m not high on Omar Infante. He feels like a peripheral character on this team. While everyone else is having the time of their lives, Infante seems to just be…around. He has a weak arm at second base and will probably need shoulder surgery in the offseason.
Mike Moustakas, while swinging a hot bat, is slower than everyone not named Billy Butler. His defense is solid, his arm is good, but when we need speed on the bases late in a game, I don’t want him representing the tying run on first or second base.
Enter Christian Colon as a defensive, offensive or speed replacement. If a game goes long – which Royals postseason games tend to do, apparently – then Colon will end up taking one of those two spots in the field. He gives this team flexibility in all aspects of the game. I think he’ll find his way up to the plate or on the base paths in a key situation late in a game. Again, just feels right.
Prediction 5: Kansas City wins the ALCS in 5 games.
I trust James Shields and Yordano Ventura on the road. I trust Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie at home. And I obviously trust Shields at home too in Game 5.
Chris Tillman and Bud Norris are both quality pitchers who already have good starts this postseason. Chen is fine, but gave up 5 runs on 7 hits in 3.2 innings in his start last week. This game is going to get to Game 5 with the Royals up 3-1. Big Game James takes us the rest of the way and our boys get to celebrate in front of their own fans again on Wednesday.
What’s the word on champagne sales in Kansas City these days? Has to be through the roof, right?
I should note: that glorious image at the top popped up on my twitter feed this morning here. Jeremy, hope you don’t mind I borrowed your pic. Also, if that image is any indication of your character, let’s be friends, okay?