October 23, 2014

Royals get set to host Game 1 of the World Series against the Giants tonight

The Royals celebrate their wild card win over Oakland (photo/MLB)

The Royals celebrate their wild card win over Oakland (photo/MLB)

The Kansas City Royals are back in the World Series for the first time in 29 years. If they want to nail down their first title since that 1985 season, though, they’ll have to get past a team in the San Francisco Giants who will be vying for their third World Series championship in five years.

Kansas City kicks off the 110th edition of the Fall Classic against the Giants starting on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.

A matchup nobody envisioned at the beginning of the playoffs, let alone the start of the season, the Royals and Giants become the first World Series matchup between wild card teams since the Los Angeles Angels beat San Francisco in 2002.

This also marks the first World Series in a non-shortened season to feature two teams with fewer than 90 wins in the regular season.

Kansas City’s run in October has been nothing short of spectacular, as it has become the first team in major league history to start its postseason with eight consecutive wins.

It didn’t look good for the Royals in their wild card game against the Oakland Athletics, as a curious pitching change by manager Ned Yost triggered a five- run inning for the A’s. Kansas City, though, started to show the resiliency that has been its trademark in these playoffs and rallied for a 9-8 win in 12 innings. [Read more...]

St. Louis Rams release wide receiver Austin Pettis

St. Louis Rams

St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams have released wide receiver Austin Pettis.

Head coach Jeff Fisher confirmed the news on Monday, adding: “We appreciate Austin Pettis’ contribution to us.”

Multiple reports, including one from FoxSports.com, indicate one of the reasons for the move was his lateness for a team meeting on Saturday. Pettis was inactive for the Rams’ 28-26 win over Seattle on Sunday. In addition, the Post-Dispatch revealed that a glut of players at the position could have been a contributing factor.

The fourth-year pro out of Boise State totaled 12 receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown in five games. Since arriving in the Gateway City in 2011, Pettis has compiled 107 catches for 1,034 yards and nine scores.

Murphy and Ray collect weekly honors from Southeastern Conference

New Mizzou football helmet?

New Mizzou football helmet?

To the victor go the spoils, and the University of Missouri football team has collected two-fold from its 42-13 road win at Florida last Saturday, as senior TB/KR Marcus Murphy and junior DE Shane Ray were named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week and Defensive Lineman of the Week, respectively, as announced on the SEC Network tonight.

Murphy was spectacular against the Gators, as he became the first player in Mizzou history to score a touchdown via kickoff return, punt return and rushing as he keyed the big Tiger victory. Murphy electrified the Swamp crowd with a 96-yard kickoff return to open the game, marking only the third time in Tiger history that MU has run back the game-opening kick for a score (Gahn McGaffie in 2010 vs. Oklahoma and Roger Wehrli in 1967 at Iowa State were the others). Murphy would later score on a 5-yard run to stake the Tigers to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, and he followed with an 82-yard punt return score on a punt safe formation (where MU had its normal defense in to guard against a fake punt, instead of having the punt return unit on the field) for a 28-0 lead.

Murphy ended the night with a career-high 224 all-purpose yards, and he currently leads the SEC and ranks 15th nationally with his 149.14 all-purpose yards per game average. The kick return scores were the sixth and seventh of his career, which gives him the MU career combined kick return record to himself, breaking the tie he held with former two-time All-American, Jeremy Maclin.

Not to be outdone, Ray was just as impactful on the defensive front in helping the Tigers improve to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. He notched his fourth two-sack game of the season, including a sack/strip play in the 3rd quarter which resulted in teammate Markus Golden’s 21-yard scoop-and-score touchdown return to give Mizzou a 35-0 lead. Ray ended the night with six tackles, and also added a quarterback pressure. [Read more...]

Extra innings again, Royals stay unbeaten in postseason, take ALCS Game 1

Alex Gordon  (photo/MLB)

Alex Gordon (photo/MLB)

The small-ball Royals flexed their muscles in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Naturally, it came in extra innings.

Alex Gordon crushed a leadoff homer in the 10th and Mike Moustakas added the deciding two-run blast as Kansas City pulled out an 8-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles on a rainy Friday at Camden Yards.

The Royals reached their first ALCS in 29 years thanks to three extra-inning wins, one against the Athletics in the wild-card game and two in their sweep of the MLB-best Angels.

Their fourth set an MLB record for a single postseason.

“We just find ways to win ballgames,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “These guys will find a way to get it done.”

Gordon broke a 5-5 tie when he turned on a Darren O’Day fastball and sent a screaming line drive into the right-field seats for his first career postseason home run.

Brian Matusz relieved O’Day and served up Moustakas’ third round-tripper of the postseason, which proved vital after Greg Holland gave up a run in Baltimore’s last at-bat.

Delmon Young hit a pinch-hit, RBI single with two outs, and with runners on first and second, Nick Markakis represented the winning run at the plate.

Holland, though, got Markakis to roll over on a pitch and send a grounder to second, escaping with his third save of these playoffs.

O’Day (0-1) turned from hero to goat after working out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, and the Orioles will look to rebound Saturday in Game 2.

The Royals will send rookie Yordano Ventura to the mound for a quick turnaround at 4:07 p.m. (et), while Baltimore counters with Bud Norris.

Known for manufacturing runs during the regular season, the Royals went deep three times in the opener, as Alcides Escobar broke a scoreless tie and ignited a big third inning with a solo shot off Chris Tillman.

Gordon, whose three-run double fueled the Royals’ closeout win against the Angels on Sunday, stepped in with the bases loaded and cleared the bags again with a broken-bat blooper that fell just inside the right-field foul line.

Markakis led off the bottom of the third with a double and scored on Adam Jones’ base hit to pull Baltimore within 4-1, but the Royals got the run back on Billy Butler’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.

James Shields was unable to maintain the lead.

The Royals starter gave up consecutive singles to open the fifth and allowed a run on Nelson Cruz’s double off the left-field wall. After J.J. Hardy struck out with the bases loaded, Ryan Flaherty laced a double down the right-field line to plate two more.

“I was proud with the way our guys battled back, especially with Shields out there,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Rookie Brandon Finnegan relieved Shields in the sixth and yielded the tying run. Jonathan Schoop worked a leadoff walk and moved to second on Markakis’ base hit. Catcher Salvador Perez threw behind Schoop and had him picked off, but Escobar’s throw to third hit Schoop in the back, leaving runners on second and third.

Alejandro De Aza then fisted a blooper into no man’s land behind the mound, and Schoop scored without a play at the plate.

The Royals ran themselves out of a run in the seventh when Jarrod Dyson’s foot came off the bag trying to steal second base. He was called out, and Eric Hosmer followed with a single that would have easily plated a run.

Kansas City wasted another scoring chance in the ninth after Zach Britton walked the bases loaded. Hosmer hit a chopper to first, and Nick Hundley made a nice backhanded stop of Steve Peace’s one-hop throw to the plate to get a force out.

O’Day took Britton out of his misery and kept it 5-5 by inducing a double-play ball off the bat of Butler.

Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis (1-0) both tossed two flawless innings out of Kansas City’s bullpen. Davis struck out the side in the ninth on 11 pitches to collect the win.

Pierzynski in, Freeman out for Cardinals NLCS roster as they get set for the Giants

The St. Louis Cardinals stand for the National Anthem while an American Bald Eagle flys around Busch Stadium before a game against the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day in St. Louis on April 7, 2014. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The St. Louis Cardinals stand for the National Anthem while an American Bald Eagle flys around Busch Stadium before a game against the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day in St. Louis on April 7, 2014. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been added to the St. Louis Cardinals’ 25-man roster for the National League Championship Series.

Pierzynski, a .300 career hitter with five homers in 100 postseason at-bats, will replace lefty reliever Sam Freeman on the active list for the NLCS, which begins Saturday at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals still have southpaws Randy Choate and Marco Gonzales available out of the bullpen for their best-of-seven series with the San Francisco Giants, with Pierzynski giving the club an additional lefty bat off the bench as well as a third catcher along with Yadier Molina and Tony Cruz.

Adam Wainwright will take the mound for Saturday’s Game 1 and will be joined by fellow starting pitchers Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Shelby Miller on the 11-man staff. Closer Trevor Rosenthal, Choate, Gonzales, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek and Michael Wacha will comprise the relief crew.

The rest of St. Louis’ position players will remain intact, with Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Carpenter, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma the infielders and Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Randal Grichuk, Peter Bourjos and Oscar Taveras forming the outfield group.