The expanded wildcard format of the MLB playoffs is just three years old, but the Kansas City Royals became the first team to ever sweep eight games en route to a World Series appearance.
The Royals completed a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night with yet another 2-1 win. It was Kansas City's second-straight 2-1 win and finishes a sweep where the AL wildcard champs outscored their counterparts by six total runs.
Previously, the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies were the only two others teams to begin a playoff run with seven straight wins. That number was long enough to carry the 1976 Reds through the World Series, while the 2007 Rockies lost game one of the Fall Classic. The seven wins for Colorado took them through the NLDS and NLCS.
The Royals won, yet again, by grabbing an early lead and defending it with their great pitching and defense
Because Kansas City had to first beat Oakland in the single-game elimination scenario, the Royals needed eight wins to traverse the American League bracket. But eight games is all it took.
The Royals won, yet again, by grabbing an early lead and defending it with their great pitching and defense. KC allowed just four hits to Baltimore all evening. And the three-headed bullpen monster of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland did their thing again, shutting the O's down for the final 3.2 innings. Herrara was the long man this time, taking the ball from Jason Vargas with one out in the sixth and getting through the seventh. Vargas gave up two hits and just a run while striking out six. His only blemish came when Ryan Flaherty homered in the third. It was the third run Vargas has allowed in the playoffs. They've all come on solo shots.
Orioles' starter Miguel Gonzalez allowed just one earned run in 5.2 innings, but got hit with the loss after the unfortunate start. The Royals just got five hits all game.
The home team put up two runs in its first at-bat without the benefit of a hard-hit ball. Alcides Escobar bounced an infield single up the middle, Nori Aoki was hit by a pitch, Lorenzo Cain bunted the two runners over and they both scored when the Orioles misplayed a routine groundball by Eric Hosmer. Orioles' starter Miguel Gonzalez allowed just one earned run in 5.2 innings, but got hit with the loss after the unfortunate start. The Royals just got five hits all game.
Time to rest
Now, like after the ALDS, Kansas City will have plenty of time to rest their pitchers and ailing position players. And with a full arsenal ready to go in the World Series, Ned Yost will surely slate James Shields to start game one, which will be at the site of what will be an electric Kauffman Stadium.