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.

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as new manager

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The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.

Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.

Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.

Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.