Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles
Time/Place: 8:07 p.m., Camden Yards
SB Nation blogs: Royals Review, Camden Chat
Pitching Matchup: RHP James Shields (14-8, 3.21 ERA) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34 ERA)
Shields sputtered a bit to end the regular season, allowing nine runs in his final three starts and struggling to put A's hitters away in the wild card game. He bounced back against the Angels though, going six innings while allowing only two solo home runs to complete the sweep. He faced the Orioles twice early in the season, and picked up a win in both games after pitching seven strong innings. His career numbers against the Orioles are solid, owning a 3.52 ERA against them, and holding current Orioles to a .661 OPS.
As you may remember from Rob's preview of Game 1 of the ALDS, Tillman struggled out of the gate in 2014, but settled in to be one of the best pitchers in the league over the final five months. He only lasted five innings against the Tigers, but held them to two runs on back-to-back jacks in the second inning. In his one start against the Royals this year, on May 16, he allowed only six baserunners while twirling a shutout, but holds a career 6.21 ERA against Kansas City.
What to watch for
Look for the Orioles to try to take the Royals' defense out of the game by knocking the ball out of the park. They hold a distinct power advantage over their opponents, and their home ballpark should accentuate that edge. Meanwhile, look for the Royals to take advantage of every mistake Shields makes. If and when they get on base, they'll be looking for more than just base hits to get them across the plate.
Also look for what should be a very one-sided managerial battle. Buck Showalter showed his genius during the dismantling of the Tigers in the ALDS, and Ned Yost's incompetence was on full display in the two Detroit series' we watched in September.