Royals try to move to brink of World Series in Game 3 vs. O's

(SportsNetwork.com) - Kansas City fans have waited 29 years for this. And the Royals aren't disappointing them.

The Royals try to move one step closer to their first World Series appearance since 1985 on Monday when the American League Championship Series shifts to Kauffman Stadium for Game 3 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Kansas City won the first two games in Baltimore, including their major league record fourth playoff game in extra innings in Game 1 on Friday, to take a commanding lead in this series.

Since the best-of-seven format began back in 1985, there have been 11 teams to win the first two games of an ALCS on the road. All of them have gone on to the World Series.

History may not be on Baltimore's side, but it's not intimidated.

"You've got to win four games," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "You've got to keep from losing three. And that's obviously oversimplifying it. But you look at teams that compete during the course of the season, they compete on the road, too."

Kansas City, a team that hit the fewest amount of home runs (95) during the season, has found its power stroke in October. After smacking four in their first four games of the playoffs, the Royals have hit four more home runs against the Orioles.

"We've won ballgames a ton of different ways. We can pitch and play some defense, or we can go out and score some runs," said Mike Moustakas, who homered in Saturday's, 6-4, Game 2 win and has four home runs this postseason. "If we need it, we can drag, we can hit and run, we can do all those things and push a couple runs across. That's just a tribute to everyone in this clubhouse and how hard we've worked."

Moustakas tied Willie Mays Aikens' 1980 franchise record for homers in a single postseason. Moustakas is also the first No. 9 hitter to homer in four different games in a single postseason and has tied Adam Kennedy and Jason Varitek for the most homers by a No. 9 hitter in postseason history.

Counting 1985, the Royals have won nine straight postseason games, including six this year. They also haven't trailed in any of the first 19 innings in this series.

"I know you get tired of hearing it, but I just stay focused on today," manager Ned Yost said on Saturday. "And again, when you start this series playing against a ballclub of this caliber, I think when you go into a series like this, if you could go home 1-1, you're going to be really, really happy. If you can go home 2-0, that's as good as it gets.

"Going home 2-0 with our crowd for the next three days is going to be exciting."

It should be a wild environment inside Kauffman Stadium on Monday, as Jeremy Guthrie takes the hill in his first postseason appearance. It's also the first time he's pitched since Sept. 26.

"I've never had this much time between starts aside from being on the DL,"Guthrie said, "so I don't view it one way or another. I was able to throw a simulated game, which at least gave me the opportunity to go out there and face hitters."

Guthrie, who pitched for Baltimore from 2007-11, won his final three starts of the year and finished the season 13-11 with a 4.13 ERA. He also he posted his best strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.53) since his first year in Baltimore, while adding his best WHIP (1.30) since 2010 and topped 200 innings for the fifth time in six years (202 2/3).

"To be in the playoffs with Kansas City is very exciting," Guthrie said. "And then to come back and play against a team that I played with before makes it even that much more interesting and ironic, I think."

Guthrie is 2-1 in four starts versus his former team with a 2.67 ERA.

Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who won 16 games during the regular season, but was roughed up by the Detroit Tigers in his lone ALDS start.

Chen couldn't get out of the fourth inning in that one, as he was hammered for five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. The Orioles, of course, rallied and he did not get a decision.

"Well, we need a big start out of him, that's obvious," said Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. "We have to do what we have to do as an offense. We know what we're going to get out of Chen. He's going to be aggressive. We have to play good defense and score some runs."

Chen is 1-1 with a 4.17 ERA in six starts against the Royals, but has pitched to a 2.84 ERA in two starts at Kauffman.

"For me, I want to keep it simple," said Chen. "It doesn't matter to me if we're ahead or behind. For me, my job is to go out and pitch a good game. It doesn't change whether it's 0-2 or 2-0, I just want to go out and pitch a good game."

The Royals won four of seven from the Orioles during the regular season, outscoring Baltimore 26-18.