As the Kansas City Royals prepare to face the Baltimore Orioles in an American League Championship Series that few predicted before the season started, we thought we’d use OOTP 15 to get a sneak peek at Game 1. We’ll do this for more games in the ALCS, as well as the NLCS, so stay tuned for future posts.
Some background before we dive into our Game 1 simulation: We set up a new 2014 season in commissioner mode and took control of all the teams. Then we looked at the teams’ current rosters on MLB.com and made the necessary additions and subtractions. We also checked out the AL Division Series box scores to see the lineups used against lefties and righties and set them accordingly.
We chose the starters based on the ones projected as of the afternoon of Oct. 9 and set the relievers’ roles. We then set up an exhibition game between both teams, with the Orioles as the home club. We turned control of both teams over to the A.I. Ned Yost and A.I. Buck Showalter and simmed to the end. As in any sim, the decisions made by the virtual managers will vary from the ones the real guys would make, but until we can hook people’s heads to computers and download their exact thought processes, this is the best we can do.
On with the show.
Royals Turn Small Ball on its Head in 11-7 Game 1 Victory
The Kansas City Royals smashed four home runs — three two-run blasts and a solo shot — en route to an 11-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the ALCS. Royals starter James Shields was roughed up for eight hits and six runs over seven innings, but he emerged with the win. Meanwhile, Chris Tillman, his Orioles counterpart, was chased from the game in the top of the fifth inning, having allowed five runs on seven hits.
The Royals opened the top of the first with a pair of runs the way they often scored them all year, as shortstop Alcides Escobar led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on right fielder Norichika Aoki’s base hit, and then scored when first baseman Eric Hosmer doubled. Aoki was held at third, but DH Billy Butler’s sacrifice fly brought him home.
The Orioles eventually responded in the bottom of the third, doing so the way they had established this season with their major league leading 211 home runs, as center fielder Adam Jones and first baseman Steve Pearce each launched a two-run home run off Shields.
The Royals then proceeded to outslug the sluggers: They knotted the game at 4-4 on a two-run home run by third baseman Mike Moustakas in the top of the fourth and took the lead for good on Butler’s first-pitch home run leading off the top of the next inning. Tillman was done, and reliever Andrew Miller came in and surrendered another run on a bases loaded walk to Moustakas.
Kansas City carried a 7-5 lead into the top of the seventh and erupted for four more runs on two-run homers by Hosmer and second baseman Omar Infante off a pair of Orioles relievers. That put the game away for good, although the Orioles scratched out runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings.
How will Game 2 play out? Stay tuned. In the meantime, here are the top and bottom of the box score from the game: