The only games that are literally must win are elimination games, but when you're down 2-0 in a best of seven series, winning game three is pretty crucial. The Orioles looked strong early against Jeremy Guthrie, but only managed one run, which isn't going to win many games. Wei-Yin Chen and Kevin Gausman were strong on the pitching side of things, but the Royals blooped their way to victory and are now one win from the World Series.
I know the series isn't over, but it's hard to imagine things starting to go the O's way. Only one team in baseball history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a seven game series. I'm not going to have a pity party, because that's not my style and no matter what happens in this series, when the smoke clears we had a pretty awesome season. That's the case if they lose tomorrow or if they come back and win four straight. I know it's not easy to see now, but it's true.
As for tonight's game, as I already mentioned Chen looked great. Despite a pretty bad strike zone from umpire Joe West (bad on both sides), Chen allowed just one baserunner through the first three innings, and that was on an infield hit. Because of course it was. Have you met the Royals? He gave up a leadoff single to left field in the third inning but a double play ball from Mike Moustakas wiped out the runner.
The Royals scored their first run in the fifth inning when Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer each hit soft, bloopy singles into shallow center field to put runners one first and second. Chen walked Billy Butler to load the bases, and a run came in to score on a ground ball to second base by Alex Gordon that was hit too softly for a double play.
In the sixth inning Chen gave up a single to Nori Aoki, who was immediately replaced by Jarrod Dyson. Dyson didn't steal (he has yet to successfully steal in this series), but he did go first to third on a ground ball single into right field. Dyson is fast, don't get me wrong, but it was the kind of hit that most runners would make to third. That was it for Chen, who was replaced by Kevin Gausman. Butler his a long fly ball that Dyson scored on, and Gausman got the third out. But that made the score 2-1 going into the seventh inning, and we've seen how that works out with KC's ridiculous bullpen.
If it's shocking to you that the Orioles only scored one run against Guthrie, that makes two of us. They had him on the ropes in the second inning, with back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and J.J. Hardy that gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Guthrie walked Ryan Flaherty to put two runners on with one out, but neither Nick Hundley nor Jonathan Schoop could do anything with them.
Nick Markakis started the third inning with a single, but that was the last hit and second-to-last baserunner they had all night. They ran up Guthrie's pitch count but that was all they did. Guthrie seemed ripe for the picking, but the O's hitters just couldn't get it done against him. They also couldn't get a hit off of Jason Frasor or the Royals' deadly trio of relief pitchers that I'm tired of seeing.
Other than Chen, the only bright spot of the game was Gausman. He did give up the fly ball that allowed Chen's second run to come in, but he pitched 2 2/3 innings without allowing a single baserunner. Gausman has really been outstanding in this postseason.
The Orioles go into tomorrow looking to avoid elimination, and they're sending Miguel Gonzalez to the mound to do so. MiGo has yet to pitch this postseason, so hopefully he gives us a gem. Things are looking dark right now, but it's not over 'til it's over.