Today, two numbers kept running through my mind. 29 and 11. It’s been 29 years since the Royals went to the World Series. And there are 11 of the 25 men on their roster that weren’t even alive when their team last made a Series appearance. And even the ones who were alive were babies or young children at the time (average age at the time of the Series is 3.5 years old). In fact, of the 15 players in today’s game, only 5 were around for the 1985 Series (average age 1.7 years old). Now, their fan base (whose average age is quite a bit older than those on the field), a roaring sea of bright blues, have new bragging rights. Yes, the Royals are on their way to the World Series.
Okay, I can’t exactly call today’s game in Kansas City one of the best I’ve seen either team play. After all the over-confident parade (and borderline non-scandal of certain attire) from the 3-0 Royals, their fans seemed overly concerned that might spark something in the Orioles to cost them the ALCS win. And maybe there was a bit of clawing on Baltimore’s part, but not enough to do much to deter the Royals who are used to clawing their way to a win lately.
Now, offensively, both teams seriously underperformed (and no, I’m not giving any credit to either pitcher); they just weren’t hitting. And when they did strikeout (14 total for both teams), it was due to swinging at lousy pitches. Both certainly walked a lot too — 9 walks total were issued between the 2 teams. Power-hitting seemed to be on the off-switch at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals pounced first in the 1st inning, putting runners on base with a single and hit-by-pitch and then advancing on a sacrifice bunt. Then a short dribbler to 1st turned into a fielder’s choice, the fielder opting to go for the out at home, except the catcher couldn’t hang onto the ball and the run scored. And while the Orioles’ catcher was hunting for the ball by the Royals’ dugout, the second run scored. And the Royals were up 2-0 until the Orioles halved that lead in the 3rd with a lead-off solo home run. Neither team could cobble together anything else. So the score stood as is on the final out in the 9th.
ALCS Game 4: Royals over Orioles 2-1, Royals sweep series 4-0
And while celebrations erupted all over Kansas City, the other side of Missouri was following the setting sun to watch their Cardinals try to tie up the NLCS against the Giants. It was not to be.
Okay, and what I said about great NL pitching… yeah, throw that all out the window for today’s game. Well, at least on the starting pitching side of things as the bullpens seemed to a little bit more in control, though the Giants bullpen definitely had the edge. (Example: The Giants bullpen struck out 7 compared to the Cardinals 2 strikeouts.) Neither starter made it very far — 3.2 innings for the Cards, 3 innings for the Giants. And I bet you can guess where most of the offense showed up today — yes, those first 3 innings were very messy. Both teams chalked up 11 hits a piece, so basically, that’s a sign of some weaker pitching (the starters allowed 6 hits to the Cards and 7 to the Giants).
First up, in the 1st inning, the Cardinals score on an RBI single, which the Giants tie up in the bottom of that inning with a sacrifice fly. But the Cards take a large jump ahead with an RBI single in the 2nd and a run scored on a double play and a solo home run in the 3rd. But the Giants answered back in the bottom of the 3rd with 2 RBI singles.
So once the starters were out of the game, the score stood at 4-3 Cardinals for a few innings. Like I said, the bullpens for both teams were much better than their respective starters, keeping the score firmly planted there, fending off their opponents attempt to advance.
That is until the bottom of the 6th inning. A lead-off walk and a single to the Giants can’t be a good sign, as a sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position. And then some sloppy fielding really cost the Cardinals the game. A batter hits the ball to a 1st baseman who missed the double play opportunity entirely and allowed a run to score and tie up the game. Then a ground out scored another run and then an overdue pitching change promptly gave up an RBI single to put the Giants up over the Cardinals with a score of 6-4.
NLCS Game 4: Giants over Cardinals 6-4, Giants lead series 3-1
For today’s “This Day in Yankee History”, we go way back to 1923. 28-year-old Babe Ruth was the highest paid Yankee that year at $52,000 (or $710,000 in 2013 money), and a young 20-year-old rookie named Lou Gehrig was recently signed to the pinstripes, debuting just 4 months before the Yankees made their way to face the New York Giants. The New York rivals would face off in 6 games, but on this day in 1923, Ruth’s solo home run in the 1st inning of the game that helped put the Yankees on their way to win the game 6-4 over the Giants and win their 1st (of 27) World Series. This win started the legacy of the Bronx Bombers and building what would be a very long dynasty and empire in New York.
Always great to remember how things began… a swing of the bat, a rookie, and a whole bunch of legends playing a kids’ game with grace and gusto. Happy 91st Anniversary, Bronx Bombers!