ALCS takes center stage after wild walk-off in NL

ALCS takes center stage after wild walk-off in NL

The 2014 postseason is headed toward something special in Kansas City, where the Royals are two American League Championship Series wins away from the World Series, where they haven't been since 1985. And that's only half the story that's developing as the October drama continues to unfold.

The National League Championship Series is locked up as it travels to the West Coast after the Cardinals evened up their series with the Giants. But Monday will belong to Game 3 of the ALCS, which will test the Orioles' will to bounce back from a 2-0 deficit and the Royals' nine-game postseason winning streak, dating back to that 1985 title and put a city starving for October madness on center stage.

The Royals host the Orioles in Game 3 of the ALCS at 8 p.m. ET on TBS, and the blue wave of support that has been perfect through the postseason thus far will be on the national stage. It'll be lefty Wei-Yin Chen of the Orioles trying to slow down a Kansas City postseason joyride, with the Royals turning to veteran Jeremy Guthrie with what figures to be a raucous home crowd.

  Date   Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 10   KC 8, BAL 6 (10 inn.) video
Gm 2 Oct. 11   KC 6, BAL 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14   KC 2, BAL 1 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15   KC 2, BAL 1 video
Billy Butler, who has endured a lot of years in Kansas City without the benefit of reaching the October party, says the key to the Royals' success so far in the postseason is that they don't look at it any differently than any other game, even if it's the most important game in Kansas City baseball in three decades.

"I don't think it matters, when we step on the field, at whatever the game time is, that each guy knows their job, each guy knows their role," Butler said. "And everybody is executing it to a tee right now. And it's one of those things that we're rising above that. It doesn't matter what atmosphere it is, where we're playing. We're just raising our game to a different level."

Good timing, Royals. But this would be an opportunity for the Orioles to flip the script. Only three teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit in the League Championship Round -- the 2004 Red Sox most notably, along with the 1985 Royals and Cardinals. To say it another way, teams that went 2-0 have gone to the World Series 25 of 28 times.

In the National League, the Cardinals sent the LCS back to San Francisco knotted up at 1 apiece when Kolten Wong ripped a walk-off shot to right field off Sergio Romo to close out at 5-4.

  Date Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 11 SF 3, STL 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 12 STL 5, SF 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14 SF 5, STL 4 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15 SF 6, STL 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 16 SF 6, STL 3 video

"I made sure to get out of the box quick in case it hit the wall," Wong said after hitting the fourth homer for the Cardinals on the night. "I was in scoring position. When it got over, I didn't know what happened, but when it did, I lost it a little bit and got a little excited."

That series heads out to the West Coast for three games, that much we know. Who has the momentum after a seesaw battle Sunday night in St. Louis evened up the series remains to be seen. The Giants technically have the home-field advantage now, but they have their hands full heading into Game 3. That's slated to be a battle between the Cardinals' John Lackey and the Giants' Tim Hudson.

"We feel good," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We come in here, get the first game. You want to get greedy and get the second one. We were close to doing it. This isn't going to be easy. We are playing a very good club. And they did a good job of coming back on us. "[To] come in here and get a game, that's a good thing. The last thing you want to do is lose two."

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.