Run-run-run Royals could advance
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals, that scrappy run-run-run team quickly endearing itself to baseball purists, is proving small ball works on the game’s biggest stage.
After a wild win over Oakland in its first playoff game in nearly three decades, the Royals — who finished last by a wide margin in home runs this season — are just one win away from sweeping the mighty, power-hitting Los Angeles Angels as their best-of-five Divisional Series shifts to Kansas City on Sunday.
Led by a manager who grew up in the National League, where bunting and stolen bases often win the day, the Royals are taking a decidedly old-school approach to the postseason.
“I think that here, especially in the past, everybody got into hitting two- and three-run homers and that kind of abandoned bunting, stealing and playing the game aggressively in that fashion,” said Ned Yost, who learned his craft from longtime Braves manager Bobby Cox.
The Royals led the majors with 153 stolen bases this season, and were such a threat on the base paths that Oakland manager Bob Melvin crafted his lineup to deal with their speed.
It didn’t do a lot of good.
The Royals wound up swiping seven bases in last Tuesday’s wild-card game, matching the record for a postseason game shared by the 1907 Cubs and 1975 Reds. And all those stolen bases proved invaluable, too, in what resulted in a 9-8, 12-inning victory.
“One of their best tools is their ability to create on the base paths, and they do it as well as anybody I’ve seen,” he said.
Small ball is winning out.
Along the way, Angels power-hitters Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are a combined 1 for 25. And the result of that abrupt power-outage? Three runs in two games.
“There are some guys that right now aren’t attacking the ball where they can for various reasons,” Scioscia said. “We haven’t done a lot of the things we’ve done during the season, and we put a lot of pressure on our pitching staff.”
Of course, the Royals rarely have to worry about those kinds of struggles.