Unlike Orioles so far, maybe Mother Nature can slow Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Don't let all the predictable denials fool you. The steady rain that postponed Game 3 of the American League Championship Series was just what the doctor ordered for an Orioles team that could use a little celestial intervention to cool off the sizzling Kansas City Royals.

Who cares if it was a doctor of meteorology? The Royals have won six straight postseason games and seven straight overall dating back to the last day of the regular season, so anything that interrupts their biorhythms should be more than OK with the Orioles.

"Who knows?" manager Buck Showalter said Monday. "This time of year, it doesn't really mean that much. Guys don't lose their mentality and that bodes well for both teams. I don't think our guys were hoping for a rainout. Nobody does this time of year."

It's hard to argue with Showalter on just about any subject, but here goes. The Royals have been on a sustained roll since they staged a terrific late-inning comeback to beat the Oakland Athletics in the sudden-death AL wild-card game. They swept the winningest team in baseball, the Los Angeles Angels, in the AL Division Series and seemed to have it all going on in the first two ALCS games at Camden Yards.

So, whether or not the Orioles came to Kauffman Stadium on Monday hoping the skies would clear, they can't be too upset or, for that matter, too surprised that everybody got the night off. The forecast when they arrived in town over the weekend called for a 100 percent chance of rain Monday night and the chances of getting Game 3 played on schedule were always very slim.

There is a downside, since the postponement wipes out the day off between Games 5 and 6, but the Orioles are in danger of that being irrelevant. They have to win two of the next three games just to push the series back to Baltimore. Both managers will have to alter their starting rotations, but that could be more benefit than curse, since each will have the option of moving his No. 1 starter up to pitch Game 4 on regular rest.

Predicting a possible upside for the Orioles really depends on how much the intangible concept of momentum plays in the postseason. The Royals clearly have the market cornered on it right now, so it's hard to view something that forces them to stand down for an extra day as anything but a positive for the Orioles.

"I don't know if the weather really will factor that much into keeping the momentum or not keeping the momentum," closer Zach Britton said. "It all comes down to playing the game and us doing our part to get the momentum back on our side."

Relief pitcher Tommy Hunter also didn't want to read too much into something players deal with several times over the course of an average season.

"I don't think it really matters," he said Monday. "Today, tomorrow … we just come play baseball. That's what we do, just play. I don't think this has any effect on what's going to happen. We'll just go play baseball tomorrow. It was a 100 percent chance of rain until like 5 o'clock in the morning, so I think we all had a little bit of an idea that we're not going to play baseball today."

If the Orioles win Tuesday and the series turns around, however, the possible impact of the rainout will be a big storyline. And that would be just fine with everybody in their clubhouse.

"Hopefully, that helps us," designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. "I mean, for me and everybody, we are ready to play and try to win the game. This happened today, and we've just got to relax and come back tomorrow with the same attitude."

Royals manager Ned Yost took pretty much the same view, but what choice did he have? His team is two victories away from a very unlikely trip to the World Series, and he's just trying to keep it pointed in the same direction.

"I think you guys [the media] are maybe putting a little too much into that," he said. "These guys, they're ready to play. … We can't play today. They'll be ready to play tomorrow. They know this is the postseason. They know what's at stake. And they were anxious to play, but they'll be anxious to go tomorrow."

The one thing everyone agrees on is that the Royals have been on fire for the past two weeks and have history very much on their side after the Orioles lost the first two games of the best-of-seven ALCS at home.

"We'd like for them to cool down a little bit," Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce said, "and hopefully this helps."



Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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