The surging Kansas City Royals beat the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1, in Game 4 of the 2014 ALCS to sweep the series and move on to the 2014 World Series. It was the Royals' first American League pennant in 29 years. They will take on the winner of the St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants matchup in the NLCS which the latter currently leads 2-1.
The Kansas City Royals are moving on to the 2014 World Series.
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The Royals earned their first World Series berth in 29 years by virtue of a 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 4 of the 2014 ALCS, which Kansas City swept, per MLB.com's Dick Kaegel:
"For the first time in nearly three decades, the Royals are returning to the World Series. This unlikely, undaunted, unstoppable club from Kansas City finished off the Baltimore Orioles in four straight games, sweeping the American League Championship Series with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.
"With a blue-hued throng of 40,468 fans roaring on a sunny, 65-degree afternoon, the Royals struck for two runs in the first inning with an infield single, a hit by pitch, a sacrifice bunt and a fielder's choice, capped by Alcides Escobar kicking the ball out of the catcher's glove on a play at the plate, clearing the way for a second run to score. It was all they would need.
"Defense again played a leading role with a left fielder Alex Gordon pounding into the left-field wall as he made one of several fine catches. Winning pitcher Jason Vargas worked the first 5 2/3 innings with the tight-fisted bullpen finishing up with scoreless work. Lorenzo Cain, who hit .533 (8-for-15), scored five runs and made several outstanding catches, was named Most Valuable Player of the ALCS.
"...Escobar limped painfully painfully after taking a foul off his left foot in the first inning. But when he bounced a ball over pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, he streaked to an infield hit at full gait. What hurt foot?
"Nori Aoki was hit by a pitch and Cain, bunting on his own, moved the runners over. Eric Hosmer's grounder was fielded by first baseman Steve Pearce who threw home only to have the ball kicked out of catcher Caleb Joseph's glove by the sliding Escobar. The ball shot toward the backstop, allowing Aoki to also score, and it was 2-0.
"'Esky did a nice job of sliding into the plate hard and kicked the ball out of the glove,' Yost said. 'And Nori tailing him, heads-up, was able to score on the play.'
"After Vargas got through his five-plus innings, the Backend Boys of the bullpen took over, all working for the second straight day. Kelvin Herrera got five outs, working in both the sixth and seventh innings. Empty tank? No chance.
"'I pulled up the reserve and pushed it even farther,' Herrera said.
"Wade Davis added a scoreless eighth and Greg Holland notched the ninth for his sixth save of the postseason and fourth of the series, something only Dennis Eckersley, (1988 A's) and John Wetteland (1996 Yankees) have done in (a) seven-game series.
"'That's the same thing they've been doing all year,' said pitching coach Dave Eiland. 'That's the reason why we're here.'"
The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger says the Royals have changed the city's identity and are the new "America's Team":
"The Royals will play in the World Series. Saying or hearing or reading those words will send chills down the arms of fans across Kansas City and beyond. This is the kind of thing that always happens somewhere else. Not Kansas City, where they tailgate hard because they know that might be the best part of the day.
"The franchise once defined by a manager saying it can always get worse is now, somehow, America's team and the greatest story in sports. They are the last team standing in the American League and the betting favorite to win the whole thing. In the stands and even in the clubhouse, over and over, you hear grown men ask each other if this is real life.
"This American League playoff race was supposed to be decided by the Oakland A's trading for Jon Lester or the Detroit Tigers getting David Price. Instead, it's been won by a group of friends that believe in each other, run like hell and play the best defense baseball has seen in quite some time. Together, they ended the longest playoff drought in North American sports and have now pushed the fairy tale all the way to the World Series for the first time since 1985.
"...That's all over now. The dark humor about 19-game losing streaks and serving as a farm system for real big-league teams loses its punch when the Royals run through the American League playoffs with Lorenzo Cain turning into Willie Mays. The losers are winners now, and there's no going back. Two weeks ago, it had been 29 years since the Royals made the playoffs. Today, it's been 29 years since they've lost a playoff game.
"'I've seen this organization go from the bottom to the top,' says Billy Butler, drafted in 2004 and in the organization longer than any of his teammates."
Game 1 of the 2014 World Series will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 22.
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