Behind dominant defense, exceptional pitching and an opportunistic lineup, the Kansas City Royals clinched their first World Series berth since their 1985 title season by sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series, with a 2-1 win in Game 4 at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday.
The Royals scored two runs in the first inning, and that was all the pitching staff needed, holding the Orioles to a home run by infielder Ryan Flaherty in the third inning and just base hits from Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy.
Kansas City got on the scoreboard with a infield single by Alcides Escobar, who then advanced to second when Norichika Aoki was hit in the knee by a pitch from Miguel Gonzalez. After a Lorenzo Cain sacrifice bunt that advanced the runners, Eric Hosmer chopped a ground ball to first baseman Steve Pearce, who went home with it. Escobar slid safely and the ball got away from catcher Caleb Joseph, allowing Aoki to score the second run.
It was just another small-ball victory for a team that finds a way to scrap together runs. The bullpen was stellar once again, allowing no runs and just two hits over 3 and 2/3 innings. In all four games of the series, Greg Holland earned the save.
"Man, it's incredible," Hosmer said. "These guys every day come to play. If they're not doing it offensively, they're doing it defensively with the glove, just playing complete games and we've got guys stepping up right now."
Game 1 of the World Series is Oct. 21 in Kansas City. The Royals will face either the St. Louis Cardinals or the San Francisco Giants.