KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals on Thursday looked like the poster child and shining example of a Major League Baseball team drilled in efficiency. Their ‘go to work, get to work, get done’ attitude made them seem as ready as they’re going to get for Thursday’s American League Division Series opener with the Houston Astros.
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A sub-par month of September had the Royals bruised and battered. Now in early October, things seem much better.
“Everybody feels good and everybody is ready to go,” manager Ned Yost said during his post-practice news conference at Kaufffman Stadium. “Everybody is dinged up this time of the year. After tonight there will be eight teams left, everybody has little dings and nicks, and you just play through them. We’re in pretty good shape. Lorenzo Cain feels much better and (Kendrys) Morales is good.”
The Royals will need all hands on deck if they’re going to win the best-of-five series against the Astros. The season series went the way of the Houstonians, who are playing in the postseason for the first time since 2005, and the first time as an American League club. They are managed by A.J. Hinch, a first-year skipper who spent years as a catcher for yes, the Kansas City Royals. He was also part of the American League coaching staff that helped win this year’s All-Star game in Cincinnati. The manager of that squad: Ned Yost.
These two teams look in the mirror and the image they see might be that of the other club. The Royals were last year’s wild card winner, a team built around speed, athleticism, and defense. Ditto for this year’s Astros squad, with one major difference: power.
The Astros hit 230 home runs in 2015, second in MLB only to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Their Achilles heel this year: winning on the road. Houston posted a 33-48 mark as part of their 86-76 overall record.
They didn’t seem to have a problem away from home on Tuesday night in New York when they beat the Yankees in the wild-card game 3-0. And they didn’t seem to have a problem with the Royals so much this season, winning four of the six games played between the two teams.
But the Royals did win two out of three games played at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals do have home field advantage, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll pay off. The Royals have been working hard to get back to the World Series, and maybe all that hard work will really start to pay off starting with Thursday’s ALDS Game 1.