Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Hosmer, Moose poised to enter KC lore

Young sluggers go yard to help Royals sweep Angels in ALDS

MLB Notebook: Hosmer, Moose poised to enter KC lore

During the 1980 regular season, no team in baseball won more games than the New York Yankees, who claimed 103 victories to narrowly edge out the 100-win Orioles for the American League East crown. Facing New York in the best-of-five AL Championship Series were the 97-win Royals, rewarded for their domination over the AL West with yet another meeting against the Bronx Bombers for the chance to play baseball in the Fall Classic. But after losses to New York in the 1976, '77, and '78 League Championship Series, Kansas City swept through the ALCS in 1980, punctuating its first pennant with Game 3 homers from a pair of franchise icons: 30-year-old Frank White and 27-year-old George Brett. 

Thirty-four years later, another team claiming the most wins in the Majors was swept aside by a Royals club, and was again hurt in the clincher by homers from a pair of infielders; these two aren't icons yet, but a with few more performances like the ones we've seen this October, choice spots in Royals lore for Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas might be forthcoming.

The Royals' roaring twentysomethings
The Royals got home runs from Hosmer and Moustakas and six innings of two-run ball from James Shields, and that formula helped Kansas City to an 8-3 victory that sealed a three-game sweep over the Angels in the ALDS.

For this series clincher, Moustakas was 26 years and 24 days old, while Hosmer was 24 years and 346 days old. It's the sixth time in postseason history that a team coming out on top in a clinching postseason game saw two players homer that were no older than 26 years and 24 days old:

• Game 3, 1969 NLCS (Mets defeat the Braves, 7-4). Homers by Ken Boswell (23.225) and Wayne Garrett (21.307).

• Game 4, 1971 NLCS (Pirates defeat the Giants, 9-5). Homers by Al Oliver (24.357) and Richie Hebner (23.314);

• Game 5, 1972 NLCS (Reds defeat the Pirates, 4-3). Homers by Johnny Bench (24.309) and Cesar Geronimo (24.214).

• Game 7, 1996 NLCS (Braves defeat the Cardinals, 15-0). Homers by Andruw Jones (19.177) and Javy Lopez (25.347).

• Game 3, 2007 NLDS (D-backs defeat the Cubs, 5-1). Homers by Stephen Drew (24.204) and Chris Young (24.031).

Hos-ing the competition
With a 1-for-3, one-walk night, Eric Hosmer boasts a 1.774 OPS through his first four career postseason games. Among Royals players through their first four playoff games with a minimum of at least 12 plate appearances, Hosmer has the highest OPS. The others with a mark of at least 1.000: George Brett (1.042), Pete LaCock (1.261), Willie Aikens (1.200) and Moustakas (1.048).

Cruz-ing to postseason glory
Behind a two-run homer from Nelson Cruz and 6 1/3 scoreless innings from starter Bud Norris, the Orioles defeated the Tigers, 2-1, to finish off a three-game sweep in their best-of-five ALDS.

Cruz's sixth-inning homer came in his 37th career postseason game. With this hit, he now has 16 homers, 32 RBIs, and 25 extra-base hits over those 37 contests. For all players in history through their first 37 postseason games:

• Cruz's 16 homers tie him with Carlos Beltran for the most.

• Cruz's 32 RBIs represent the third-highest total, behind Lou Gehrig's 35 and Lance Berkman's 33 (Gehrig played a total of 34 postseason games).

• Cruz's 25 extra-base hits are the second most, behind Carlos Beltran's 27.

Cruz owns a career .710 slugging percentage and a 1.059 OPS in postseason play. Among the 207 players in history who had at least 120 plate appearances through their first 37 postseason games (or whatever smaller number of games they concluded with), Cruz's .710 slugging percentage ranks fourth, and his 1.059 OPS ranks sixth.

First 37 postseason games, highest slugging (min. 120 PA)
Player Slugging percentage
Carlos Beltran .794
Babe Ruth .746
Lou Gehrig .731
Nelson Cruz .710

Half of Cruz's 16 home runs have come against the Tigers. Pablo Sandoval has the second most for any player against Detroit, with three. Cruz's 18 postseason RBIs against the Tigers are twice the total of the players with the second most; Tom Brunansky and Robinson Cano each have nine.

Cruz is the first player to homer in a clinching win for the team since Jeff Reboulet in Game 4 of the 1997 ALDS. The last Orioles player to homer in a clincher for the team and have that home run represent the entirety of the scoring for the team: Frank Robinson, whose solo homer in the fourth inning against Don Drysdale gave Baltimore an eventual 1-0 win in Game 4 of the 1966 World Series.

Nothing light about Bud
Norris is the first starter to record a win in a series clincher (not counting the Wild Card games) for the Orioles since Mike Mussina beat Randy Johnson in Game 4 of the 1997 ALDS. Mussina allowed one run and two hits in seven innings, with seven strikeouts and three walks. Norris' line looks similar: 6 1/3 innings, two hits, no runs, six strikeouts and two walks.

Norris is the first Orioles starter to record a win in a clincher without allowing a run since Scott McGregor hurled a five-hit shutout in Game 5 of the 1983 World Series.

Double the play, double the fun
With Zach Britton on the mound and the game-tying run on second base, the Orioles clinched the series with a 5-4-3 double play, an event that had only happened once before (series-clinching double play starting at third). In Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS, the Yankees' Sparky Lyle induced a round-the-horn twin-killing from the Royals' Freddie Patek. In addition to this pair of 5-4-3 double plays to close out a series, there have been three other double plays to mark the final outs of a series-clincher:

• Game 8, 1921 World Series: Giants pitcher Art Nehf gets the Yankees' John Franklin "Home Run" Baker to hit into a 4-3-5 double play.

• Game 7, 1947 World Series: Yankees pitcher Joe Page gets the Dodgers' Bruce Edwards to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

• 2002 NLDS, Game 5: Giants pitcher Robb Nen gets the Braves' Chipper Jones to ground into a 3-6 double play.

Martinez spread the love
The Tigers' lone run on Sunday came from a J.D. Martinez double in the ninth. Martinez drove a run in the first game of the series, and added three RBIs in Game 2. He is one of 38 players in history to have at least one RBI in each of his first three postseason games, and the second Tigers player to do it, after Curtis Granderson.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.