Some sabermetricians like to point to math to suggest that momentum doesn’t matter in the postseason. The observer will point to the Kansas City Royals. The Royals won their seventh straight playoff game on Tuesday night in a 2-1 game against Baltimore. And KC has a chance to wrap the series up on Wednesday to advance to the World Series behind a perfect record through the AL bracket.
Kansas City hasn’t done a whole lot different than what got it to this point. Pitching, great defense and timely hitting has Kansas City on the brink of its first World Series appearance since 1985. And it doesn’t look like much will stop it on its way to the Fall Classic.
There are two different school of thoughts ahead of game four in Kansas City. The first is that the Orioles will be desperate. And that Kansas City may lose even the slightest bit of their edge with a comfortable 3-0 lead in this series. The other is that Kansas City is simply riding far too much momentum to lose with a World Series berth on the line. I do think we see Baltimore play its best game of the series on Wednesday night. Buck Showalter is too good of a manager and has embedded a certain level of indomitable spirit into his team. But ultimately, I favor the side of the momentum in this matchup.
Not only are the Royals red-hot, but they’re at home again and seem to be the better team in this series. Jason Vargas will make his second start of the postseason after firing six really good innings against the Angels in game two of the ALDS. Vargas is familiar with the Orioles’ lineup and has some solid results against Adam Jones, who will be the key to igniting any sort of a Baltimore rally. Jones has hit just .185 in 27 career at-bats against Vargas. If continues to struggle, and I think he will, Baltimore’s offense will probably follow.
But the Orioles won’t go quietly. And the biggest reason is who takes the mound. Miguel Gonzalez‘s season, and story behind it, has thrown him into some of the national spotlight, which he deserved. Gonzalez will be extremely fresh and makes his first start since the final weekend of the regular season. As we saw with Jeremy Guthrie in game three, the extra rest should mean Gonzalez has plus stuff, but the only concern will be rust. Gonzalez should be terrific, but I can’t consider fading Kansas City here.
Free Pick: Kansas City (-109)
YTD: 40-28-3 +7.14