OriolesThe first game of the American League Championship Series is set to kick off on Friday evening. The unorthodox match up of the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals contrasts well against the playoff regulars in the NLCS. Unlike Giants and Cardinals, this will be the first ever postseason meeting between the Royals and the Orioles. During the regular season, however, the two clubs me 7 times this year with the Royals taking a slight 4-3 series advantage. While the Orioles starter for game one has yet to be announced, the Royals have already made the decision to give James Shields the ball. So far this postseason, Shields hasn’t quite lived up to his “Big Game James” nickname; the righty has thrown 11 total innings, and holds an ERA close to 5.00. However, in two starts against the Orioles this season, Shields holds a 2-0 record with a 3.21 ERA in exactly 14.o innings pitched.

  • If you haven’t watched the postseason so far this fall, than you’re using your television wrong. This September/October has brought fans some of the most intense and entertaining playoff baseball to date. Ten of the sixteen contests have been one run affairs, while 12 games have featured the go-ahead run scoring after the seventh inning. If the playoffs keep trending the way they are, the championship series should bring even more high drama. (In exhilarating playoffs, best is yet to come)
  • While slightly less important than other priorities this offseason, the Red Sox still need to find a new hitting coach after Greg Colbrunn stepped down from the position. Some names to consider for Boston include familiar faces like Dave Magadan and Bill Mueller. While Magadan is still under contract with the Rangers, Mueller recently resigned from his role with the Chicago Cubs. However Boston ties are obviously not a requirement, thus coaches like Washington’s Rick Schu, and former MLB first baseman Craig Counsell are names that could surface. (Exploring some Red Sox hitting coach scuttlebutt)
  • Is having an ace a must for a playoff team or is it a common misconception? If you look at the current playoff layout, you’ll notice that every team with a bonafide ace or two has been bounced from World Sereis contention. By the numbers, Royals rookie Yordano Ventura is currently the best pitcher on the American League side of the playoffs. Similarly, the Orioles don’t feature a starter in the leagues top 30 arms during the regular season. Therefore as the Red Sox rebuild their rotation this offseason, acquiring an ace shouldn’t be an absolute must. (History shows you don’t need an ace, and the Red Sox might take their next cue from that)
  • While it’s not even a foregone conclusion that he’ll have a roster spot come Spring Training, Allen Craig is confident that he will bounce back from a dreadful 2014 season. Thanks to a foot injury and a shortened offseason in 2013, the 30-year old was never able to find his footing during his time in St. Louis and Boston during the 2014 season. However, Craig remains confident that he can return to being a consistent, productive threat at the plate next season. (Red Sox ponder Craig’s future in Boston)
  • Tweet of the day: Twitter with no baseball just isn’t as fun…