Playing with all the confidence in the world, at home, with another one of their dependable starting pitchers on the mound, the Kansas City Royals have the chance to end the ALCS today.
After winning their seventh-straight playoff game to open up a 3-0 lead over the Baltimore Orioles, the Royals will be anxious to end the series here and now - hoping to prolong the feeling of a playoff loss for another series, at least.
KC sends Jason Vargas to the mound, coming off a very strong start against the Angels in game two of the ALDS when he spun six quality innings, giving up just three hits and two runs. Vargas was only hurt by two solo home runs that kept the Angels in the game, but his start allowed Kansas City to keep it close to the end and then emerge as a winner.
Meanwhile, the Orioles counter with Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez gained some national attention this year for his story as a young boy coming to the United States from Mexico and for his great season. A previous journeyman, Gonzalez posted a 3.23 ERA this season in 159 innings, but has not pitched yet in this postseason. Between Chris Tillman, Bud Norris and Wei-Yin Chen, Gonzalez didn't get a chance to start in the ALDS because the Orioles swept. And Buck Showalter waited for the fourth game of the ALCS to let his breakout starter throw. It will be Gonzalez's first start since September 28 when he blanked Toronto for five innings.
Multiple ways to look at it
There are two schools of thought surrounding a game four in a series that sits 3-0 in games. The first is that the team down in the series will come out with more desperation than ever and play its best game. That's also coupled with the possibility of the leading team coming out somewhat flat and without a maximum "edge" because of the relatively safe series lead. But the other way to think is that the team down 3-0 has had enough and is completely deflated. The Royals smell blood and have captured just about all of the momentum in this series. The last thing they want to do is allow Baltimore to win a game and get that taste.
With the Royals attitude on one side of that equation, and Buck Showalter on the other, it's impossible to figure out which scenario has the better chance of playing out. First pitch comes just after 4 PM on the East.