I don’t think too many people really expected the Kansas City Royals to win two games in Toronto to close out their American League Championship Series.
You almost got a sense that when the Royals prevailed in Game 4 to take a 3-1 advantage, they had accomplished their goal of going to back to Kansas City with the lead. I’m sure they believe there’s no way they can lose two straight games before the denizen Royals faithful.
What happened to the Royals in Game 5 was Marco Estrada, who became the latest soft-tosser to shut them down. The Royals didn’t put up much of a fight in anticipation of going back to Kauffman Stadium where they hope to wrap up the series and set off a wild celebration.
Remember, the Royals had just scored 14 runs in Game 4 and it’s always difficult to follow up an explosion like that with another rousing offensive display. It’s like my golf game, when I shoot a 71 or 72 I find it difficult to back it up with another round of similar skill. True, the Royals did score 22 runs in their first two games in Toronto, but to complete the triumvirate in Game 5 was a reach.
The book should be out on the Royals now. They don’t hit off-speed pitching well (I don’t count Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey) as they are always so anxious and so aggressive that they don’t allow the ball to travel deep, instead lunging to hit weak popups and grounders. They have 10 walks in five games compared to 27 strikeouts.
The Royals will probably feel more comfortable tonight when they face flamethrower David Price, who was nearly perfect for six innings last Saturday before it all unraveled in the seventh inning with five runs on some well-placed hits. They like to be challenged and Price will certainly unfurl his fair share of 94 and 95 mph. heaters.
I’ll be honest. I believe the Royals need to get this done tonight and not head to a Game 7. I know Johnny Cueto was masterful in his last win-or-go-home game against Houston, but can he really be trusted in the most important game of the year? He was downright horrid in Game 3 and given his record with the Royals, it would make my palms sweaty if he is the deciding factor.
Remember the headline of a column I wrote after the Royals went up 3-1? It was titled, “How hard is it to win one game?”
Hopefully the Royals won’t find out that it’s very hard.