Royal Flush: The Demise of the 2014 Baltimore Orioles

What a wild ride this season has been. After putting together a 96-66 record that won them the AL East title for the first time since 1997 (take that, Yankees and Red Sox!) and sweeping the dangerous Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series, the Baltimore Orioles’ glorious season ground to a screeching halt against the red hot Kansas City Royals.

One second–the Kansas City Royals? The wild card team? The wild card team that needed a come-from-behind, walk-off victory to get to the Division Series for the first time in over twenty-five years? How could this happen?

As much as it pains me to say this, at the end of the day, the Orioles were simply outplayed by the Royals in a neck-and-neck contest that really could have gone either way.

Kansas City Royals Defense

The Royals’ defense is going to haunt the Orioles for a long, long time. No matter where the Orioles hit the ball, no matter how hard they hit it, the KC defense was always there.


Where is Steve Bartman when you need him?

The Orioles couldn’t even catch a break during Game Three, which just so happened to be the anniversary of infamous Cubs fan Steve Bartman’s interference that sunk the Cubs’ playoff run in 2003: Steve Pearce’s frozen rope to third was caught and Adam Jones’ foul ball was gloved with a diving-into-the-stands play…both by third baseman Mike Moustakas. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t confusing Moustakas for Derek Jeter.

While the Orioles hit only .429 on hard-hit balls (400 points below their season average), the Royals hit a smoldering .789.

Fielding demons like Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, and Lorenzo Cain caught balls that usually fall into gaps, saving countless runs.

Kansas City Royals Pitching

This, in my humble opinion, was the difference for Kansas City.

When you sweep a series where 30 innings out of 37 total innings ended in a tie or a one-run difference, it’s bullpen pitching that makes the difference, especially when no starter for either team went six complete innings.


Greg Holland became just the third pitcher to earn four saves in a postseason series.

In the end, the Royals’ relievers went 3-0 this series with a 1.13 ERA. Hats off to Royals closer Greg Holland for becoming only the third pitcher to accrue four saves in a postseason series.

Kansas City Royals Offense

Where the Orioles were being robbed with flashy defensive plays, the Royals were cashing in. They were fortunate enough to have some broken-bat bloop hits that found the gaps that had eluded the Orioles. While the Orioles hit only .429 on hard-hit balls (400 points below their season average), the Royals hit a smoldering .789.

As disappointing of a series as it was for us Orioles fans, it was a big win for all baseball fans everywhere. I’ll be rooting for the Royals in the playoffs—they understand the wait for dominance that we Orioles fans have experienced far more than the Giants, who’ve made three World Series in the last five years.

Where’s the fun in that?