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KOUTELAS: Royals one win away

The Kansas City Royals are one win away from a World Series appearance. I’m sure that sounded as odd as it was for me to write. For a team that at one point sat at 48-50 and even got swept by the Houston Astros to win its first seven postseason games is beyond explanation or comprehension.

We know about the incredible, improbable comeback against the A’s, and we know about the embarrassment of the Angels. But what the Royals have pulled off against the Baltimore Orioles has been just as impressive.

For the whole regular season and for the first four games of the postseason, Kansas City showed off its speed time after time. They even stole seven bases in one game against Oakland, and the team’s philosophy seemed to be as simple as getting on base and running like crazy.

But it has been a different story against the O’s. The Baltimore Orioles have for several years been known for their prevention of stolen bases. Starters like Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are all incredibly quick to the plate, which makes it very difficult for base runners to steal. Baltimore catcher Nick Hundley is also good at catching runners with over a 40% catch rate.

Only thing is, for the Royals, it hasn’t mattered a single bit.

The Royals have not stolen a single base in the American League Championship Series, and still sit with a 3-0 lead over Baltimore. Kansas City’s ability to find different and unexpected ways to win has been dumbfounding and incredibly exciting.

Before Tuesday’s game, Mike Moustakas had four home runs in six games in the postseason. Moustakas had never in his career had four home runs in any six game stretch, and yet here he is doing it in the playoffs. He’s also flashed his leather several times, including a diving catch to his left to rob Baltimore first baseman Steve Pearce of extra bases. Of course, he also had that catch in foul territory, sprawling over the dugout railing, which was the catch of the postseason so far. And I hate to say this, but it was even Derek Jeter-esque.

Center fielder Lorenzo Cain has also been playing out of his mind. Cain has a batting average over .800 during the ALCS, which, added to his ridiculous defense, has made him the MVP favorite of the series.

The Royals’ capability to find just enough night in and night out is why they are currently the best team in baseball and why they are one win (one!) away from the World Series.

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