The Kansas City Royals finished their transformation from American League doormat to legitimate title contender on Wednesday, completing their sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. For the first time in nearly three decades, the Royals are going to the World Series.
"It's hard to explain," said outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who was named the ALCS' most valuable player for his outstanding offensive and defensive performance, according to ESPN. "We're clicking at the right moment right now."
The Royals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 4 and never looked back, relying on strong efforts from starting pitcher Jason Vargas and their bullpen, which pitched three and two-thirds innings of shutout ball. Kansas City won using the same fundamentals that earned them a playoff appearance in the first place -- tough pitching, top-notch defense and an emphasis on timely hitting rather than offensive dominance.
"These guys are willing to play selfless baseball where all they're concentrating on is winning the game," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "Nobody is looking to be a hero right now, they're just looking to win a ballgame, and they've done a tremendous job."
Fiery Royals legend George Brett, who was an instrumental part of the team's title run in 1985, certainly seems to agree with that assessment. The franchise posted a video of the 61-year-old's reaction to the team's ALCS victory to its Twitter account.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) October 16, 2014
Actor Paul Rudd, who grew up as a Royals fan in Kansas, was thrilled by the team's World Series berth as well. In fact, he invited his fellow Royals fans to a keg party at his mother's house to celebrate.
The Royals have yet to lose a game this postseason, but will face a tough challenge from the winner of the National League Championship Series. The San Francisco Giants currently led the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in that series, and will attempt to finish off their rival in Game 5 Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET.