The Royals are entering their first American League Championship Series since winning the World Series in 1985 while the Orioles, are back for the first time since 1997 and are searching for the franchise’s first pennant since 1983, as the two teams collide in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The Royals and the Orioles present a contrast of styles but they got to the American League Championship Series the same way, with strong starting pitching and dominant bullpen work.
The Orioles led the majors in home runs and were last in stolen bases during the regular season while the Royals were last in home runs but sat on top in stolen bases. The Royals do what teams need to do to win without hitting home runs, including playing great defense, but they started to power up in the postseason with key extra-inning home runs from Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Even without Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters in the lineup, the Orioles pounded the Tigers’ pitching in the American League Division Series behind a strong series from Nelson Cruz and consistent production from Nick Markakis in the leadoff spot. Cruz owns 16 career postseason home runs, including eight in 12 American League Championship Series games.
James Shields (1-0, 4.91 ERA) vs. Chris Tillman (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
James Shields was bailed out by his offense after allowing four runs in five innings in the wild card game against the Athletics and he surrendered a pair of solo home runs before earning the win over the Angels in his lone American League Division Series start. His big-game reputation outpaces the actual results as he is 3-4 with a 4.96 ERA in eight career postseason starts, including 0-2 in the American League Championship Series. Shields picked up a pair of wins over the Orioles earlier this season, giving up a total of five runs and 12 hits in 14 innings.
Chris Tillman battled through five innings against the Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series and held them to a pair of solo home runs in earning the win. Tillman completed seven innings only once in his last seven starts but issued only one walk against the Tigers while striking out six. He threw a five-hit shutout against the Royals on May 16.