No team has come back to win LCS after losing first two games at home
By Austin Laymance
KANSAS CITY -- History is not on the Orioles' side. But that doesn't mean the O's are willing to concede the American League Championship Series to the Royals, who hold a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven format.
Entering Tuesday's Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, TBS) at Kauffman Stadium, the Orioles find themselves in this difficult position after dropping two close games at Camden Yards on Friday and Saturday. No team has lost the first two games at home and come back to win a best-of-seven League Championship Series.
"I trust my teammates and I trust what we have here," Cruz said Sunday afternoon. "I believe if one team can come back and win the series it's us."
It's certainly not a foregone conclusion that this ALCS is over.
Since the LCS expanded to a seven-game format in 1985, there have been three teams that have come back to win the series after losing the first two games on the road.
The Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in 2004, and kept the momentum rolling all the way to reverse the "Curse of the Bambino" and win Boston's first World Series title in 86 years.
Coincidentally, the Royals rebounded from 2-0 (and 3-1) to beat the Blue Jays in seven games in 1985. Kansas City would go on to win its only World Series. The organization had not been back to the postseason until this year. Also in '85, the Cardinals came back to beat the Dodgers.
On the other hand, teams holding a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven LCS have won the series 20 times.
So how will Baltimore respond to such trying circumstances?
"This team isn't going to let down that easy," said righty Miguel Gonzalez. "We're going to keep grinding and doing our best. We're excited to be here and hopefully take two out of three."
Star center fielder Adam Jones doesn't believe there is a need for team meetings or pregame speeches.
"We know what we're doing--we're grown men," Jones said. "We're not little kids who need to sit around in a circle and play Duck, Duck, Goose. So we're just going to approach the game as we've approached every game all season and do what we do best."
Still, the O's understand they will need some things to go their way this week.
"We need to take advantage of our opportunities when we have them and seize those opportunities and make them count," said catcher Caleb Joseph.
Reliever Darren O'Day says the O's are not about to panic, not after all the adversity the club overcame during the season.
"We understand we've lost two games, but baseball is a funny game," O'Day said. "You come out tomorrow and win a game and things can escalate quickly from there. That's why we play these games. No one is panicking. We've done it before, we've been in holes. We just have to have fun. That's the biggest thing, have fun. This is a fun stage to be on this time of year. No one is panicking."
And the Orioles' aren't buying the bold proclamations of Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
"I'll just tell you this, man," Dyson said Sunday, "if we win Game 3, it's going to be hard for them to look themselves in the mirror and say, 'We can win the next four.' That's tough to do, man. Everything must click. I'm just being honest. If we take Game 3, I guarantee there's going to be multiple people over there saying, 'Man, ain't no way we can beat these guys four games in a row.' It can be done, but not everybody's going to be on the same page. There's going to be some people ready to go home. There's going to be people not cheering in the dugout."
When asked about Dyson's comments, Cruz said: "I believe that we'll come back. What's important is what we believe in here. It doesn't matter what people think outside from this door. That's my only answer."
He's not alone in that thinking.
"People are going to talk," Jones said. "We don't worry about what people say. We worry about what we think and do here. ... [Dyson] doesn't speak for this clubhouse. I could say a lot of things about that. It's not the time nor place. Hey, we've got a deficit to overcome. Obviously they're up 2-0. They should have all the confidence in the world. That's just how that process is going to take care of itself."
It's also worth noting that 11 teams have come back from 2-0 deficits to win the World Series. Of those 11, two clubs won the Fall Classic after dropping the first two games at home: the 1996 Yankees and the 1986 Mets. New York stormed back with four straight wins over the Braves, while the Mets rebounded to win in seven games against Boston.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.