In Baltimore, look for the Orioles and the Kansas City Royals to score fewer than 7 runs in the opening game of the American League Championship Series. Take it at 1.95.
On Friday, we should see a quality both teams showed in their AL Division Series triumphs: strong pitching. Both Royals’ starter James Shields (six innings; two runs allowed) and the likely pitcher for the Orioles Chris Tillman (five innings; two runs allowed) looked good in their ALDS opportunities.
But it’s these teams’ bullpens that assure that even if one of the starters falter, the game will not get out of hand. Baltimore and Kansas City finished third and fifth, respectively, in AL bullpen ERA. This ability to keep run scoring down was really evident in these teams’ work in the last round of the playoffs. Combined, the two clubs averaged just a hair above five runs allowed per game (Kansas City yielded two per game; Baltimore a bit over three).
Another factor here: Camden Yards is a pitchers’ ballpark. The stadium ranked twenty-second out of thirty teams in Major League run scoring during the regular season, according to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors. It should be stingy in allowing runs here.
Take the Kansas City Royals, on at 2.10, to win on the road versus the Baltimore Orioles.
More than anything this is a gut call. It’s hard not to get the feeling that Royals are some sort of team of destiny. I mean the club already prevailed in three straight extra-inning games over a four day period earlier in these playoffs. This is the franchise’s first post-season in twenty-nine years. It just feels meant to be.
At the risk of getting philosophical, the post-season is a period where momentum trumps stats in many ways. As a result, you can look at the fact that Kansas City was last in the AL in home runs and were an all-around poor offensive club, but if you look at what they’ve done lately, it’s a different picture. After all, this is the team that blasted nine runs in the AL Wild Card Game and another eight in their final ALDS contest. They are just peaking at the right time.
Admittedly, momentum can swing quickly and one bad game could get the Royals out of their groove – not to mention the Orioles looked good sweeping a favoured Detroit Tigers team in their ALDS. But, at the moment, fate appears to be on the side of Kansas City.