The 2017 Royals dealt with the same problems in the final year of their competitive window as this year's Orioles have. "It's almost like the last year of high school," Kansas City pitcher Jason Hammel said.
The fact that the Orioles and Royals each will send two relief pitchers to Cincinnati next week is emblematic of the outsized role that their bullpens have played in the dramatic resurgence of both franchises. Sure, there have been some pundits grumbling about the presence of setup man Darren O'Day on the AL team, but the best seventh-inning and eighth-inning relievers have been getting more All-Star love in recent years and it's about time.
The Orioles' "We Won't Stop" season finally came to a screeching halt Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium when the won't-be-beat Kansas City Royals won another nailbiter, 2-1, in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
The power of the Kansas City Royals' bullpen against the versatility of the Orioles' should make for an American League Championship Series that could be decided early in each game since the relievers don't often break.
Brian Matusz lasted just 1 1/3 innings Sunday and retired only three of the 13 hitters that he faced, and Evan Longoria hit a two-run, inside-the-park homer in the Orioles' 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before an announced 22,032 at Camden Yards.