Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Royals on an historic pace

Kansas City is just the third team to start postseason with seven straight wins

MLB Notebook: Royals on an historic pace

On Oct. 9, 1976, the Cincinnati Reds visited Veterans Stadium to take on the Phillies in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Behind Don Gullett, who limited Philadelphia to two hits and a run in eight innings and contributed three RBIs with a single and a two-run double, the Reds came away with a 6-3 victory.

Over the next two weeks, each succeeding contest added more runs to that differential, until a 7-2 win in Game 4 of the 1976 Fall Classic gave the Big Red Machine 41 runs scored, 19 allowed, and a perfect 7-0 record to punctuate their second straight title. The Kansas City Royals won't finish the 2014 postseason with a 7-0 record, but right now, they've found a gear that has their own machine humming and churning up victories with notable alacrity.

American League Championship Series: Orioles vs. Royals
Playing in their seventh game of the 2014 postseason, the Royals played their third one-run affair and came away with their seventh win: a 2-1 victory that gives them a 3-0 lead over the Orioles in the ALCS.

Prior to Kansas City this postseason, there had been only two teams to open the playoffs with seven straight wins -- a streak that was impossible before the advent of the LCS in 1969. In 1976, the Reds swept the Phillies in the best-of-five National League Championship Series and then swept the Yankees in the World Series for a perfect postseason of seven wins and no losses. In 2007, the Rockies -- after beating the Padres in an elimination game just to reach the postseason -- swept the Phillies in the NL Division Series before taking four straight against the D-backs to win the pennant.

  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

• Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Cain has collected at least two hits in three straight contests and has eight hits in this ALCS. He is the fifth Royals player with at least three straight multihit games in a single postseason. Amos Otis had five in a row in 1980, while these players strung together three straight: Hal McRae ('77), McRae ('80) and Willie Wilson (85).

Cain's eight hits tie him with George Brett (1976 and '85) and McRae ('77), for the second-most for a Royals player in an LCS. In '85, Wilson had nine.

Cain has had at least one hit and one run scored in five straight postseason contests. That streak ties for the 22nd longest by any player in postseason history, with Carlos Beltran's nine-game run in 2004 the top mark. The five-game run is the second longest for a Royals player, with Brett assembling a six-game run that began in Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS and concluded in Game 1 of the '80 ALCS.

Cain has played seven career postseason games, and in six of them he scored at least one run while collecting at least one hit. He is the seventh player to be able to make this claim, with the following men also having six such games (no one went 7-for-his-first-7 in this endeavor): Home Run Baker , Beltran, Mickey Cochrane, Nomar Garciaparra, Ian Kinsler and Fernando Vina.

• After Jeremy Guthrie worked the first five innings for the Royals, four relievers each contributed one perfect inning: the end result being a combined three-hitter. This game marked the 24th time in ALCS history a club had held the opposition to three hits or fewer. This game was one of six to involve the Royals, but only the second of the six to have the Royals' pitching represented. Kansas City's offense was held to three hits or fewer by the Yankees (in Game 2 in 1977, and then in Game 1 in '78), by the Tigers in Game 3 in '84, and then by the Blue Jays in Game 4 in '85. In Game 3 in '84, the Royals also held the Tigers to three hits in a 1-0 loss.

• In the 2014 postseason, Royals relievers have combined for 31 1/3 innings, have collectively produced a 2.01 ERA, and have recorded six victories against no losses.

• The Royals managed no extra-base hits in the win. In ALCS history, teams are now 7-28 when failing to record at least one double, triple or home run.

National League Championship Series: Cardinals vs. Giants
After opening Game 3 with four runs in the first inning, the Giants finished with one run in the bottom of the 10th for a 5-4, walk-off win over the Cardinals. The victory gave San Francisco a 2-1 lead in the series.

  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

The Giants' offense did manage five runs in this victory, but tallied only four singles and two doubles. Prior to this win, there had been only four postseason games in which a team won in extra-innings while amassing no more than six hits, with none of them being home runs.

The previous occasions: 1956 World Series, Game 6, the Dodgers defeated the Yankees, 1-0, on a double and three singles; '80 NLCS, Game 3, the Astros defeated the Phillies, 1-0, while collecting a double, two triples and three singles; '97 ALCS, Game 3, the Indians collected six singles on their way to a 2-1 win over the Orioles; 2012 NLDS, Game 3, the Giants defeated the Reds, 2-1, collecting three singles in the win.

• This victory was the third extra-inning, walk-off win in Giants postseason history. In Game 5 of the 1911 World Series, Fred Merkle's sacrifice fly against the Athletics' Eddie Plank in the 10th brought home Larry Doyle with the final run. In Game 1 of the '54 World Series, Dusty Rhodes' three-run homer off of Cleveland's Bob Lemon in the 10th gave the Giants a 5-2 victory.

• In this victory, the Giants' bullpen combined for 3 2/3 innings of two-hit, no-run baseball. For the postseason, San Francisco's relievers own a collective 2.22 ERA in 28 1/3 innings.

• From 1985 (the first year the LCS was made to be a best-of-seven affair) through 2013, the winner of NLCS Game 3 went on to reach the World Series 17 out of 28 times.

• The Giants' staff combined for seven strikeouts and no walks in the affair. They are the sixth team in postseason history to issue zero walks while playing for more than nine innings. The Giants were also responsible for the first two examples of such stinginess: in Game 3 of the 1911 Fall Classic (a loss) and Game 2 of the World Series the next year (a tie). The Tigers' staff did this in Game 2 of the '34 World Series (a win), while the '99 Braves lost Game 3 of the World Series while doing it. Finally, the Orioles -- in a Game 3 loss in the 2012 ALDS -- had been the most recent club to do it.

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