LCS at a glance
Season series: Royals won 4-3.
Kansas City Royals: Kansas City wins with solid starting pitching, a nasty bullpen, daring on the basepaths and sensational defense. Baseball fundamentals. During the regular season, K.C. ranked last in the majors with 95 home runs but first with 153 steals. … Outfielder Lorenzo Cain made a series of spectacular defensive plays against the Angels, also thwarted by outfielder Nori Aoki’s glove and the arm of reserve outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Throw in the clutch homers by homegrown hitters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, and the rollin’ Royals certainly have some serious October mojo going under manager Ned Yost.
Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore is still missing three key players. All-Star catcher Matt Wieters had season-ending elbow surgery in May, 3B Manny Machado had season-ending knee surgery in August and 1B Chris Davis is serving a 25-game suspension for using amphetamines. … Although the Orioles led the majors with 211 homers, pitching has been a big reason for their success. All four starters in the playoff rotation reached double figures in wins, and the back end of the bullpen has been solid, especially since Andrew Miller’s arrival on July 31.
Watch for: Lights Out Late. Both teams rely on stingy bullpens that were a key to their success early in the playoffs, so runs could be hard to come by in the late innings.
Season series: Giants won 4-3.
San Francisco Giants: After relying on stellar pitching in winning the 2010 and 2012 World Series, the Giants are more balanced this year, finishing fifth in the N.L. in runs and seventh in ERA. But the starting pitching has stepped up in the playoffs, with a 1.04 ERA through five games. … LHP Madison Bumgarner is a threat at the plate, batting .258 with four homers, 15 RBIs and a .470 slugging percentage this season. … 2B Joe Panik is hitting .345 since Aug. 4 and provided a big spark with his midseason call-up. … OF Michael Morse has just two at-bats since Aug. 31 because of a strained oblique but could be ready for this series.
St. Louis Cardinals: The rotation is deep and the back end of the bullpen has been solid, too. … LHP Marco Gonzales, a 22-year-old rookie drafted in the first round out of Gonzaga University last year, threw three scoreless innings against the Dodgers and went 2-0 in relief. … The 35-year-old John Lackey came on strong down the stretch and showed his big-game bonafides with seven stingy innings in a Game 3 win over Los Angeles. … In his first full season as a closer, Trevor Rosenthal was among the game’s best, giving hitters more to worry about than just a fastball that tickles triple digits. He saved all three playoff wins against the Dodgers. … Jhonny Peralta is one of baseball’s best-hitting shortstops
and had a big second half in his first season with St. Louis.
Watch for: 3B Pablo Sandoval has keyed San Francisco’s postseason success during the past two trips, even after having his 14-game postseason hitting streak snapped in the
clincher vs. the Nationals.
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