Saturday, October 11, 2014

First postseason meeting of Royals and Orioles was 'a battle worthy of the wait,' NY Times

10/10/14, "The Royals’ Alex Gordon hit a broken-bat double to drive in three runs in the third inning of Game 1 of the A.L.C.S. He also homered in the 10th," European Pressphoto Agency. Final in  10 innings, 8-6 Royals

10/11/14, "Royals Keep Magic Alive, Beating Orioles With Homers in the 10th," NY Times, David Waldstein

"Amid a sea of waving orange towels and unwavering hope, a new era of baseball arrived at Camden Yards on Friday.

The Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals, two cornerstones of early American League expansion, had never played each other in the postseason, despite distinct periods of success in both towns, especially in the 1970s.

In the first 17 years after the playoff format was introduced in 1969, one or the other team was in the American League Championship Series in all but four of those years, though neither had been to the Championship Series in a very long time.

So, on a cool night that provided a fitting backdrop for an October game, the teams finally engaged in a battle worthy of the wait. The Royals took an early four-run lead, and the Orioles fought back to even the score after six innings.

But in the top of the 10th Alex Gordon hit a leadoff home run off Darren O’Day and Mike Moustakas added a two-run shot off Brian Matusz. The Orioles scored a run in the bottom of the 10th, but the Royals held on for an 8-6 victory in Game 1 of the A.L.C.S.

The surging Royals, who won their first two games of the division series with extra-inning home runs, became the first team to hit three go-ahead home runs in extra innings in a single postseason.

Gordon’s homer helped make up for the fact that the Royals had the bases loaded with nobody out in the top of the ninth but failed to score. Zach Britton, the Orioles reliever, walked three straight batters, throwing 12 consecutive balls. But Eric Hosmer hit into a fielder’s choice.

O’Day, the side-arming right-hander, replaced Britton and got Billy Butler to hit into a double play — shortstop J. J. Hardy to second baseman Jonathan Schoop and on to Steve Pearce as the announced crowd of 47,124 roared its approval, at least for a short while.

Both teams carried momentum into the series, with neither losing a postseason game entering this series. The Orioles, who last competed for the pennant in 1997, swept the Detroit Tigers in the division round. The Royals, whose last appearance in the playoffs came in 1985, the year they won the World Series, did the same to the Los Angeles Angels after beating the Oakland Athletics in a dramatic, extra-inning wild-card game.

Anticipation for this unprecedented matchup began with tens of thousands of Orioles fans dressed in black and orange, swarming the streets around the stadium for hours in advance, and then bringing the stadium to life with their energetic cheers once the game began.

A light rain started falling in the middle innings, but the game went on, with Chris Tillman, the starting pitcher of the Orioles, facing the Royals’ James Shields.

The Royals were the first to score as Alcides Escobar homered to left field off Tillman in the third inning. Kansas City would score three more times in the inning, even after Tillman came within inches of ending the inning with the bases loaded and only one run in."...

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