Game 2 ALCS Preview: Orioles vs. Royals

Sports and Bets — October 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm by

After last night’s hard-fought loss, the Birds are in desperate need of a W. They can ill afford to go down 0-2 before heading to Kansas City for three straight games. Thankfully, the O’s have made a habit of bouncing back from tough losses all season long. This team doesn’t throw pity parties. They turn the page and come ready to play the next day, eager to get back in the win column. This team is a bunch of fighters, and it’s going to take a helluva lot more than a 1-0 deficit to keep these guys down.

Game 2: Today at 4:07 PM on TBS
Bud Norris RHP (15-8) vs. Yordano Ventura RHP (14-10)
Norris’ Season Stats: 165.1 IP, 139 Ks, 3.65 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
Norris’ Last Three Starts: 3-0, 17.2 IP, 19 Ks, 1.53 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
Norris’ Postseason Stats: 1 GS, 1-0, 6.1 IP, 6 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.63 WHIP
Ventura’s Season Stats: 183 IP, 159 Ks, 3.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
Ventura’s Last Three Starts: 1-0, 18 IP, 17 Ks, 2.50 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Ventura’s Postseason Stats: 1 GS (2 GP), 0-0, 7.1 IP, 5 Ks, 3.68 ERA, 1.09 WHIP

Buck decided to go with Norris over Wei-Yin Chen today, which makes a lot of sense considering Norris’ strong start against Detroit, his excellent career numbers against Kansas City, and his home/road splits. In two career starts against the Royals, Norris is 0-1 with a 0.68 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, and has struck out three batters over 13.1 innings. This season, Norris has faced the Royals once. On May 17, Norris was a hard luck loser after surrendering only one run on four hits and a walk while striking out one over 7.1 innings. It’s definitely strange to see that Norris was able to pitch so effectively, despite such low strikeout totals. But I’m sure that Norris will be more than happy to post some zeroes on the scoreboard no matter how the outs are recorded. Norris has loved the home cooking this year. Over 13 home starts, Norris had a 2.44 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, compared to a 4.80 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 15 road starts.

The 23-year-old flamethrower, Yordano Ventura, will be taking the bump for the Royals. Ventura struggled in a relief appearance against the A’s in the wild card game, giving up two runs while recording just one out. But he was back to his dominating ways in his start against the Angels, holding them to one run in seven innings while striking out five. Ventura has baffled the Orioles’ bats in his two career starts against them, both of which came earlier this season. In these two starts, Ventura went 1-1 with a 1.26 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while striking out 17 batters over 14.1 innings. Ventura has been very effective both in and out of Kauffman Stadium this season. Over 16 home starts (17 appearances), Ventura had a 3.21 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, compared to a 3.18 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 14 road starts. I bet he’s never seen a crowd as raucous as the one that he’s going to see today, though. Let’s get rowdy as fuck, and rattle this young buck’s cage!

Orioles Lineup with Career Numbers vs. Ventura
RF Nick Markakis (L) – 4-for-6
LF Alejandro De Aza (L) – 0-for-2
CF Adam Jones (R) – 0-for-7
DH Nelson Cruz (R) – 1-for-6 with a HR
1B Steve Pearce (R) – N/A
SS J.J. Hardy (R) – 4-for-6
3B Ryan Flaherty (L) – 2-for-6
C Caleb Joseph (R) – N/A
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) – 0-for-3

Royals Lineup with Career Numbers vs. Norris
SS Alcides Escobar (R) – 1-for-6
RF Nori Aoki (L) – 2-for-8
CF Lorenzo Cain (R) – 0-for-3
1B Eric Hosmer (L) – 0-for-5
DH Billy Butler (R) – 2-for-6
LF Alex Gordon (L) – 3-for-6
C Salvador Perez (R) – N/A
2B Omar Infante (R) – 3-for-13
3B Mike Moustakas (L) – 1-for-5

Strengths to Watch

  • Royals’ Late Inning Heroics – According to ESPN Stats & Info, “The Royals are the first team in MLB history to win four extra-inning games in a single postseason.” They’ve also set a postseason record by hitting four extra-inning home runs. These four home runs have come in 32 extra inning at-bats. During the regular season, the Royals hit only one home run in 98 extra-inning at-bats (Elias). These guys keep pulling out tight wins left and right, and are brimming with confidence. That’s a scary combination.
  • Alex Gordon – I have no clue why this Gordon bats 6th. He’s a stud, and clearly this team’s best hitter. This postseason, Gordon is batting .316/.458/.632 with a HR, 8 RBIs, 3 runs scored, and 3 steals over 5 games. He’s always given the Birds a hard time over his career, as well. In 51 regular season games against the O’s, Gordon has hit .294/.338/.545 with 13 HRs, 35 RBIs, and 33 runs scored.
  • Nelson Cruz – This guy just continues to mash the absolute piss out of the baseball. This postseason, Cruz is slashing .471/.471/.882 with 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, and 5 runs scored over 4 games. Courtesy of Roch Kubatko, “Cruz has at least two hits in each of his four games to start the 2014 postseason, becoming only the ninth player to do it to open the playoffs. No player has started a single postseason with multiple hits in five straight games.” Let’s make some history, Nellie!

Weaknesses to Watch

  • Orioles’ Defense – Despite a rash of injuries, the O’s still boast one of the best defenses in baseball. But last night, the Birds’ defense let them down in a big way. In the third inning, Hardy made what should have been ruled a throwing error, and Schoop botched his relay catch. These costly misplays lead to three runs for the Royals. The Birds can’t afford to keep giving this surging Royals team extra outs and expect to win the series.
  • Orioles’ Lack of Production at Catcher – Joseph and Nick Hundley have combined to go 1-for-15 with an RBI in the playoffs. Joseph has been especially scuffling as of late, going hitless in his last 33 at-bats covering the regular season and playoffs. No one’s asking for these guys to rake, but they have to do better than being an automatic 0-for-4 every night.

Let’s go O’s!

cover pic from CBS Sports

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