Royals in elite company with seven-game win streak

Royals in elite company with seven-game win streak

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' 2-1 win over the Orioles on Tuesday night didn't just put them on the verge of an American League Championship Series sweep; it gave them seven consecutive victories to start this postseason, a feat accomplished by only two other teams throughout baseball history.

Think about that for a second. The Royals, in the playoffs for the first time in 29 years and sporting a roster full of homegrown players who have close to no experience on this stage, are now 7-for-7 in October.

Only the 1976 Reds and 2007 Rockies began a postseason with a seven-game winning streak.

"I wouldn't have called that," Billy Butler said, "but it doesn't shock me, either."

  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

More shocking, perhaps, is the way they've done it.

Tuesday's victory was the third one-run game the Royals have won in this stretch. Four of their wins have gone to extra innings, four of their wins have been tied heading into the ninth.

The Royals have won with head-turning defensive plays, shutdown bullpen work, timely hitting and, yes, even home runs.

"I just think it's the consistency of all of our players," Butler said. "Everybody's coming in each day, knowing what their role is and doing their job, and we're holding each other accountable for it. Everybody knows their job and we're doing it, day in and day out. We're playing the most fundamental baseball that we can."

The Royals' stretch began in the AL Wild Card Game against the A's, a game that saw them overcome a four-run deficit with six outs left and a one-run deficit in the 12th inning.

It spilled into the first two games of the AL Division Series at Angel Stadium, two contests that saw the Royals -- last in the Major Leagues in home runs during the regular season -- win on 11th-inning long balls.

The streak extended to ALDS Game 3 at Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals scored seven runs in the first four innings and Lorenzo Cain made a couple of catches in the fifth inning to halt any momentum and seal a sweep of the Angels.

Game 1 of the ALCS, in Baltimore, was won with a three-run 10th inning thanks to homers by Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas. The Game 2 victory came courtesy of a two-run ninth inning, on hits from Alcides Escobar and Cain, that backed the Orioles into a corner.

In Game 3 it was everything, really -- from Jeremy Guthrie's outing to the bullpen work to Moustakas' catch over the railing to Butler's sacrifice fly.

"After the Wild Card game, that was all the experience we needed," manager Ned Yost said of his young ballclub. "You could tell, somewhere in the course of that game, that something clicked for them, and they were playoff veterans. They've played like it."

The Royals' postseason winning streak is at 10 if you count the three straight wins by the 1985 World Series-championship team, giving them the longest active streak in baseball. All-time, those 10 wins are tied for third, with the 2012 and '14 Giants, the 1989-90 A's and the Yankees of 1937, '38, '39 and '41.

The 1976 Reds won seven in a row when they swept the Phillies in the National League Championship Series and the Yankees in the World Series. The 2007 Rockies swept the Phillies in the NLDS and then the D-backs in the NLCS before being swept by the Red Sox in the Fall Classic.

No team has ever begun the postseason with eight straight wins.

The Royals can change that by finishing off the Orioles on Wednesday, something 27 of 33 teams have done after taking a 3-0 lead in a seven-game series.

"We understand what's at stake tomorrow; we understand that we have a chance to go to the World Series tomorrow," Butler said. "We're going to take it one pitch at a time."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.