ALCS Game 1 Free MLB Pick for Royals vs. Orioles

Willie Bee

Friday, October 10, 2014 12:26 PM GMT

The Royals and Orioles have upset the MLB odds throughout the playoffs, but only one can be called American League Champions with their ALCS set to begin Friday night in Baltimore.

One team was a 15:1 choice to win the American League pennant while the other was listed at 10:1 on the MLB futures odds when spring training opened nearly eight months ago. Even after they both made it to the playoffs, they weren't expected to get past the likes of the mighty Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tiger.

So, yeah, an ALCS matchup between the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles does qualify as at least a mild shock.

Dissed practically the entire 2014 baseball betting season, Baltimore and Kansas City are finally getting their due respect as they prepare for the ALCS opener Friday night in Baltimore. TBS has the first pitch at 8:07 PM (ET), just long enough to squeeze in an extra two minutes of commercials compared to the normal start time of a regular season game, and Chris Tillman will deliver the initial toss for the Orioles with James Shields his Royals counterpart.

Baltimore was sent out as -125 chalk for Game 1, the opening 7 run total split high-low. SBR's live baseball odds have been tracking the action on both lines, the Orioles inching up closer to -130 favorites at most sports books while the total keeps moving towards 7½.

 

O's & Royals Meet For 1st Time In Playoffs
Given the long playoff layoffs each team has endured at times, it's no surprise this will be the first time Baltimore and Kansas City have clashed in the postseason. The Orioles, with their home-field advantage, are -135 series favorites with the take-back on the Royals at +115.

That advantage might last for just one game, however. While Baltimore is 59-36 vs. the Royals at Camden Yards over the years, KC has won three of its last four games at Oriole Park, including two of three this season near the end of April.  The teams finished off their regular season contests at Kauffman Stadium in mid-May when they split a 4-game set. Two of the three games in Baltimore stayed below the total, as did three of the four in Kansas City.

 

Big Game James Aims For 3rd Win Of '14 Vs. Birds
First, Shields helped get Kansas City past Oakland in the AL Wild Card showdown, then he put them in this series with an ALDS-clinching performance over the Angels. He struggled a bit vs. the A's, the first of three consecutive extra-inning playoff victories for the Royals, but rebounded nicely against the Halos with the only two runs allowed coming on solo homers.

Shields also pitched well when taking on this O's lineup during the regular season, winning both outings with seven innings of work each time out and five runs allowed (3.21 ERA). He has had plenty of experience against them after so many seasons with the Rays, and is 7-2 with a 3.81 ERA in 13 career starts at Camden Yards.

Tillman started Baltimore's ALDS sweep of the Tigers, and has been as consistent as any other pitcher in the majors since mid-June. The win vs. Detroit eight days ago was his first career postseason appearance, and his only matchup against the Royals this season turned out to be a 5-hit shutout against in KC back in mid-May.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Joe West will chief the umpire crew and is expected to have the plate in Friday's opener. Totals ran 21-9-2 (O/U/P) in his regular season dish assignments, and all three of this games involving either Baltimore or Kansas City went past the marks. West's crew also includes Brian Gorman, Marvin Hudson, Dan Iassogna, Ron Kulpa, Tim Timmons and Mark Wegner, with Iassogna set to be the replay official in Games 1 and 2.

The weather forecast is not promising with the chance of rain increasing throughout the late-afternoon and into the evening. That makes a play on either side based on the starting pitchers risky since it's not only probable, but likely this game gets interrupted at some point. I lean towards the Royals to continue their magical season by winning the ALCS, but my free MLB pick for Friday is on the scoreboard mark being hurdled.

MLB Pick: Royals-Orioles Over 7 at 5Dimes 
Season: 125-121-8 (+3.15)

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