Sports

MLB Playoffs

Lorenzo Cain lifts Royals past Orioles in Game 2 of ALCS

By Mike Rutsey, Toronto Sun

Kansas City Royals centre fielder Lorenzo Cain makes a diving catch against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Oct. 11, 2014. (TOMMY GILLIGAN/USA Today)

Kansas City Royals centre fielder Lorenzo Cain makes a diving catch against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Oct. 11, 2014. (TOMMY GILLIGAN/USA Today)

BALTIMORE - 

Who knew it would be this easy?

After waiting 29 years to make the post-season, the Kansas City Royals are making up for lost time.

By virtue of their 6-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the Royals have taken a 2-0 stranglehold in the best-of-seven ALCS.

The Royals now have an opportunity of wrapping up the series at home as Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) are set for Kauffman Stadium beginning Monday night.

After making the post-season as a wild-card team the Royals have been on a roll and are undefeated (6-0) in their playoff run.

With the triumph the Royals became the 25th team in LCS history (Both ALCS and NLCS) to take a 2-0 lead since the advent of a best-of-seven format in 1985 with 21 of those 24 teams advancing to the World Series.

Even though they have been the underdog in the wild-card game, the Division Series against the Angels and here in the ALCS, they have simply been unbeatable.

“I think we came into this series the underdog and our guys don’t really pay much attention to that,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

“I don’t think they mind being the underdog because they have a lot of confidence in their own abilities.

“They’re playing their best baseball of the year right now and it’s sure the best time to play it.”

No kidding.

 

For the Orioles it marked the first time since June 28-29 they have lost two in a row at home.

Leading the charge for the Royals was Lorenzo Cain who contributed four hits, scored two runs, drove in one, stole a base and made a great catch in centre and a better catch in right.

“He had a great day today, four hits and made great plays in the outfield, none bigger for me than that ball J.J. Hardy hit down the right field line (in the seventh with the bases loaded),” Yost said. “He came out of nowhere and caught it. I thought for sure that ball was going to drop but here he comes and makes the play.

“The country is seeing a very exciting player in Lorenzo Cain.”

With the game tied 4-4 in the ninth, the Royals manufactured the game-winning run.

Omar Infante opened the inning with a nubber up the third base line that he easily legged out for a single.

While Orioles manager Buck Showalter switched to his closer, Zach Britton, Yost countered by bring in base stealing weapon Terrance Gore.

Mike Moustakas, who leads the team in post-season home runs with four, showed another skill by dropping down a sac bunt to move Gore into scoring position.

Right on cue, Alcides Escobar bounced one down the first base line and into right for an RBI double and a 5-4 lead. An error by third baseman Ryan Flaherty on a high chopper from Jarrod Dyson put runners on the corners for Cain who completed his big day with an RBI single to left.

The Orioles have squandered multiple opportunities in the two games none moreso than in the seventh when thanks to two singles and walk they had the bags full with one out.

Steve Pearce, hitless in the two games popped up to shallow left and Cain came a long way to make the catch in right on a flare by Hardy for the final out. It was their last real threat.

In downing the Orioles for the second consecutive game the Royals continued to confound the experts and power balls out of the park. After their three-homer game Friday, Moustakas pounded one over the scoreboard in right to break a 3-3 tie in the fourth.

It was the eighth homer for the Royals in their last five games, the fourth by Moustakas.

The Royals, building on the momentum established in their extra-inning victory Friday night wasted no time in jumping out to an early 2-0.

In the opening inning, Nori Aoki hit a one-out single and raced to third on Cain’s opposite field double into the right field corner. Eric Hosmer followed with a broken bat single that barely fell out of reach of Hardy. Cain got a great read on the blooper and almost lapped Aoki as he zoomed home.

Cain’s speed resulted in the Royals adding a run in the third. With two out Cain hit a slow chopper to short and just beat the throw on a bang-bang play. He then raced to third on a sinking liner to left by Hosmer that fell in for a single and scored on Billy Butler’s double to right.

The Royals 3-1 lead didn’t last long as in the bottom of the third Adam Jones crushed a Ventura fastball into the seats in left for a two-run home run to tie it 3-3.

So it’s the Royals who are now in the driver’s seat.

“When you go into a series like this is you go home 1-1 you’re going to be really, really happy,” Yost said. “If you can go home 2-0, that’s as good as it gets.

“Going home 2-0 with our crowd for the next three days, it’s going to be exciting.”

PIVOTAL GAME

Since the best-of-seven format was adopted in 1985, the team that has won Game 2 of the ALCS has advanced to the World Series 22 times in 28 series including 13 of the last 15.

VENTURA OKay

In the fifth inning with two out and nobody on, Yost had to come and take his starter Yorando Ventura out of the game after he felt something in his arm after a pitch to Ryan Flaherty.

“He developed a little shoulder stiffness right there, it started to get a little bit tight,” Yost said. “We got him out of the game and I don’t anticipate him missing his next start. We’ll see how it goes day-to-day but I think he’ll be fine.”

NOT THROWING IN TOWEL

Naturally enough, Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t conceding the series.

Trailing 2-0 with the next three games in Kansas City, Showalter remains upbeat on his team’s chances of coming back to win the ALCS.

“You’ve got to win four games and you’ve got to keep from losing more than three,” he said breaking it down to its most basic level. “That’s obviously oversimplifying but if you look at teams that compete during the course of the season they compete on the road too and I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys.

“You can see at this time of the year what a sharp, razor thin line there is between the two and you have to earn everything, every at-bat. Like I said last night, you can’t bottle the concentration level and everything that goes into these games for the 200 games we play a year.

“You see this time of the year guys are firing on all cylinders and you’re getting the best from everybody. I was real proud of us again battling back there.”

Still, not only have they lost two at home, they’ve never had a lead in the two games. How surprising is that?

“Not at all, not really,” he replied. “You got to get to a tie when you’re behind before you take a lead. It’s kind of last night, you spend so much energy and concentration trying to get back to that point (tie) it’s hard to take that next step but 100 percent of that is what they’re doing and not what we’re not doing.”

 


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