Royals sweep Orioles, head to first World Series since 1985

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They swept the 98-win Angels and they swept the 96-win Orioles.

And fittingly the Royals’ only two runs in Game 4 came on a fielder’s choice/error combo with two runners in scoring position thanks to a bunt by their No. 3 hitter and aggressive baserunning. Ned Yost Baseball, which is now 8-0 in the playoffs and also undefeated in making critics shake their heads.

Kansas City is going to its first World Series since 1985, with not so much as a playoff appearance in between, and somehow the Royals have won six of their eight postseason games by just one or two runs while simultaneously seeming like an unbeatable bunting-and-running machine.

Jason Vargas, whose four-year, $32 million contract was viewed by many as an overpay this offseason, allowed just one run in 5.1 innings and Yost gave him a quick hook after being questioned for leaving starters in too long earlier this postseason. And as usual the Royals’ bullpen was fantastic, as Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland combined for 3.2 shutout innings.

Kansas City–which had a 48-50 record on July 21 and trailed Oakland by four runs with five outs to go in the Wild Card Game–now waits, with homefield advantage, for the San Francisco-St. Louis winner in the World Series. I’m not sure there’s any proper way to explain it and, really, why would you even want to? The Royals haven’t lost a playoff game since October 23, 1985.

Lucas Giolito earns second shutout of season

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The Twins have arguably baseball’s scariest offense. Their average of 5.87 runs per game is second only to the Yankees (5.90) while leading the league in slugging percentage (.501), OPS (.840), and home runs (244). White Sox starter Lucas Giolito made their offense look impotent on Wednesday, blanking them over nine innings for his second shutout of the season. The White Sox won 4-0.

Giolito allowed just three hits and walked none while fanning 12 batters over his nine innings of work. He’s now 14-6 with a 3.20 ERA and a 194/51 K/BB ratio in 151 2/3 innings on the season. Giolito is very much in the AL Cy Young Award picture. The Astros’ Justin Verlander leads the league in ERA at 2.81. A strong finish to the season for Giolito could certainly see his ERA dip below 3.00.

As mentioned, Wednesday’s shutout was Giolito’s second of the season. He and the Indians’ Shane Bieber are the only pitchers with multiple shutouts this season. They are two of only 21 pitchers with a shutout.