FanPost

The Story of the 2015 Kansas City Royals: Part 8 - 2015 ALCS

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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Continuing on with the (mostly) complete multimedia story of your 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals, here's the index for all parts:

ALCS: Toronto Blue Jays

On July 28th, the Royals were 61-38 (.616), the best record in the AL. They had traded for Johnny Cueto a couple of days before and traded for Ben Zobrist on that day. Their run differential was +76, 2nd in the AL. League leader Toronto (+94) was scuffling at 50-51, 4th place in the AL East. On that day, they traded for Troy Tulowitzki and, later in the week, they traded for David Price. They played .705 baseball the rest of the way (43-18).

"The Royals had home-field advantage thanks to a superior regular-season record (95-67 to 93-69), but the Blue Jays were still favored to win the series. The reasoning isn’t hard to figure; the Blue Jays’ run differential of plus-221 towered over that of the Royals (and every other team in the major leagues)... The Blue Jays have been the best team in baseball over the past two months."

-Rany Jazayerli

Both Royals Review and Bluebird Banter previewed the series. RR observed that the Blue Jays scored more runs than any team in 6 seasons with astronomical HR totals, good walk numbers, and low strikeout rates. Josh Donaldson won the AL MVP and he, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion were in the MLB top 10 for HR and wOBA. Toronto runs well and are average fielders. BB saw the Royals as "a variety of different solid contributors" on offense paired with "solid relief pitching and fantastic defense". Both teams had a lot of question marks in the starting rotation, including their rental aces. Would the Jays get ace David Price? Or the David Price who just won his first postseason game in 12 attempts? In relief. In a 7-1 game. Would the Royals get Reds Johnny Cueto and his 2.62 ERA or Royals Johnny Cueto and his 4.76 ERA? Toronto rounded out their playoff rotation for the series with down ballot Cy Young candidate Marco Estrada, ACL injury recoverer Marcus Stroman, and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. The Royals planned to throw enigmatic Yordano Ventura, steady but unspectacular Edinson Volquez, and an undecided 4th starter.

Each team entered the ALCS on a string of comebacks. The Royals were behind the Astros 2-1 in their ALDS and trailed in all 3 games they won, including the epic game 4. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays dropped the first 2 games in Toronto to the Rangers before winning 2 games in Texas. Their game 5 comeback was capped by the most memorable moment of the 2015 baseball season in the craziest inning in baseball history.

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For teams that had never shared a division, they have a bit of history together. Most recently, the teams fought down to the wire for home field. Kansas City had been in the lead for most of the 2nd half but Toronto caught them and even grabbed a 1.5 game lead the last week. But the Royals surged past them when they closed the season 5-0.

Speaking of fighting, just after the trade deadline, the teams had a heated 4 game series.

"A rivalry burst into full bloom on Sunday afternoon, a newfound clash pitting the team that snapped North America’s longest playoff drought last October with the new owners of that dubious streak. For three games, the Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays traded rallies before rabid crowds at the Rogers Centre, building excitement for a potential rematch in October."

-Andy McCullough

And, of course, this series was to be a rematch of the 1985 ALCS. The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead in that series after a 6-1 win in game 1 and Dan Quisenberry giving up a 10th inning lead in game 2. Game 3 was The George Brett game. But then the Royals blew a 9th inning lead in game 4 to go down 3-1. The Royals won the next 3 games 2-0 on a Danny Jackson shutout, 5-3 in the return game to Toronto, and 6-2 in the clincher with a Jim Sundberg triple off the wall as the key hit. The Royals would, of course, go on to win the World Series while the Blue Jays had to wait until 1992 for their first World Series title. There would be some eerie similarities in this series.

ALCS Game 1

(RR Game thread) (RR Recap)

(Ed Note: No Pulse of Postseason for this day)

Highlights: http://m.mlb.com/video/v523722883/

Edinson Volquez was fired up. In the first, he threw 7 pitches in the 94-96 range and 6 of them hit 97. 24 pitches later, he escaped his first encounter with Toronto's terrible trio unscathed. Alcides Escobar, first pitch swinging, doubled to left but did not score. Volquez worked a 1-2-3 top of the 2nd on 6 pitches while Toronto starter Marco Estrada did the same with the bottom of half of the inning on 12 pitches. In the 3rd thru 5th, Volquez held the Jays scoreless, working around a single runner each inning and throwing a consistent 15, 15, and 14 pitches bringing his 5 inning total to 74. The Royals got to Estrada in the 3rd. Gordon led off with a double. One out later, Escobar doubled him home. And he came home to score on a Lorenzo Cain single to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. In the 4th, Salvador Perez added a solo home run off the Sonic sign in left field.

Donaldson and Bautista began to grind Volquez on his third time through the order. The two worked walks to leadoff the 6th on 18 pitches. At 92 pitches and in trouble, many called for the bullpen. But it was Dave Eiland and not Ned Yost who went to the mound. Encarnacion watched strike three paint the black. The battle with Colabello went to a full count on 8 pitches before flying out to Gordon in left. Finally, with 2 outs, yet another full count, and the crowd in a frenzy, Tulowitzki watched strike three to end the threat. Volquez yelled, pumped his fist, and walked off the mound with 6 shutout innings of 2-hit baseball. Ned Yost had played with fire and not been burned. He stole the inning so HMD could finish off the game and have at least 2 available for game 2 the next day.

"The Royals would tack on two insurance runs in the eighth, but the game was decided right there, when a tired starter who had no business being on the mound repaid the faith of 40,000 fans and one manager in full."

-Rany Jazayerli

The rest of the game was tense but the Jays win expectancy never got much above 10%. The Royals had 2 on in the 6th but Ryan Goins and Tulowitzki combined for a gorgeous double play. Ryan Madson got into a little trouble in the 8th as Donaldson and Bautista reached on a walk and single.But as the tying runs, Justin Smoak, hitting for Encarnacion, and Chris Colabello weakly popped out and grounded out to end the threat. The aforementioned 2-run 8th: Escobar HBP, Zobrist single, Cain flyout, Hosmer double, and Morales sac fly. That finished off Escobar's odd tally of 5 pitches: double, double, ground out, foul, hit by pitch. With the lead up to 5, Yost saved Wade Davis for game 2 and Luke Hochevar finished off the game. The Royals take Game 1.

ALCS Game 2

(RR Game thread) (RR Recap)

Pulse (first half of video for Royals): http://m.mlb.com/video/v524165583/

Highlights: http://m.mlb.com/video/v524100483

It seemed only a matter of time before Price's bad luck would end . He seemed determined to take luck out of the equation with a note hanging in his locker: "If you don't like it, pitch better". When he put it there back in August, he even cited a former Royal: "It’s something we always said in Tampa. It’s something James Shields would always say". And for six innings, he did just that. Alcides Escobar singled on Price's first pitch to the Royals. But the Jays ace retired 18 straight Royals, holding them scoreless through 6 on an economical 66 pitches. He was as strong as he had been all game in that last inning, striking out the side on 14 pitches.

Ventura started for the Royals and was a bit more shaky. He escaped 2 on and nobody out in the 2nd with a strikeout and line drive double play. The Jays took the lead on doubles from Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins in the 3rd but Ventura limited them to 1 run. In the 6th, Ventura ran into trouble the third time through the order. He faced 6 batters and 5 of them went 5 or more pitches. Donaldson led off with a single and Bautista followed with a walk. Encarnacion worked the count full before singling in Donaldson. Colabello struck out but then Tulowitzki doubled beyond the reach of a diving Alex Rios on the first pitch he saw, scoring Bautista. Russell Martin worked the count full. Ventura's final pitch of the day, his 31st of the inning, went low and loaded the bases. Five Hochevar pitches later and the inning was over with the damage minimized: Pillar popped out and Goins grounded back to Luke. However the 3-0 lead looked enormous against an ace who looked invincible.

The game changed on the first pitch of the 7th inning. Zobrist hit a pop up to shallow right. Goins called for it but then it looked like he thought Bautista called for it and the ball fell in. The streak was broken and the Royals had just their second runner of the game. Goins would say after the game "I thought I heard, 'I got it.' It was nothing." Bautista came off a bit more defensive: "My perspective? I think there’s video. You can watch it... There was no confusion." And with that play, the singles train left the station. Cain singled. Hosmer singled to drive in Zobrist. Morales hit a potential double play ball but Rusty Kuntz sent Hosmer on the play so the Jays only recorded a single out. Moustakas singled and the game was tied. Perez worked a full count but Price struck him out on the 8th pitch. It looked like the Jays might get out of the inning. But Gordon also worked the count full on a tiring Price and, on the 8th pitch of his at bat, lined a double to right center. It went all the way to the wall and gave the Royals the lead. As Price walked off the mound, the voice of the Toronto Blue Jays closed out his day thusly:

"David Price today throws two ballgames. The first six innings: that was one ballgame. And here, in this seventh inning, a four run burst, quite another."

-Jerry Howarth

Or in the words or Ryan Lefebvre: "Crazy! Nothing. But. Crazy." Rios singled home Gordon before the Jays could finally escape, down 5-3. Kelvin Herrera worked around a Colabello double in the 8th and the Royals added another run on two walks and a Moustakas RBI single.

In the 9th, Davis gave up a single to Pillar. Cliff Pennington worked a full count before he walked on a close pitch that MLB Gameday had as a strike. Toronto wrapped back to the top of their order with nobody out and the tying run at the plate. But the rested Davis bore down and struck out Revere on 6 pitches. Then he struck out Donaldson on 4, including a questionable strike one. Bautista, the Jays last hope, lofted a ball to right but it stayed in the yard and found Paulo Orlando's glove. The comeback shifted the weight of the games in Toronto: even if the Jays won all 3 games with their considerable home field advantage, the Royals would still have a chance to win the series.

Shaun Newkirk did a wonderful job of mixing win expectancy graphs with appropriate Jose Bautista animated reactions. Below is the WE graph for game 2. (Spoiler warning) Others for the series can be found here.

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ALCS Game 3

(RR Game thread) (RR Recap)

(Ed Note: No Pulse of Postseason for this day)

Highlights: http://m.mlb.com/video/v524591483

Kansas City came to Toronto up 2-0 with a rejuvenated Johnny Cueto on the mound and a chance to bury the Jays. Escobar lined the second pitch of the game in front of Bautista who misplayed it into a triple. Zobrist got him home on the next pitch. Three pitches, 1-0 Royals. Three pitches later, Pillar robbed Cain of extra bases with a running catch. The Royals got another pair of hits in the second off Jays starter Marcus Stroman. Loud outs and shaky innings: though they had only managed a 1-0 lead, it looked like a good start for the Royals.

But it was never going to be this easy. The Blue Jays were 53-28 in the Canadian-ly spelled Rogers Centre during the regular season with an even better Pythagorean expectation (56-25) based on their run differential. With 2 on and 2 out in the 2nd, Goins, coming off his "error" in game 2, singled home a pair of runs. Josh Donaldson drove in another to give the Jays a 3-1 lead. The Royals got a run back in the top of the 3rd but left 2 more runners on.

Toronto left no runners on in their half of the third. After Encarnacion and Colabello got on, Tulowitzki blasted a home run to deep center field to deafening roars. Martin walked and Pillar doubled him home, giving the Jays a 7-2 lead and ending Cueto's evening. Kris Medlen came in and got 2 outs before Donaldson launched a 458' blast to left center to keep the party going. It was the 2nd longest postseason home run for 2015. While the frenzied crowd may have included a "Man in White" or influenced home plate umpire John Hirshbeck (who would eject Tulowitzki later in the game), more realistically, it probably just electrified the Jays bats on a night when Cueto didn't have it.

The Royals picked up a pair in the 5th on a wild pitch and a Moustakas single. But Goins continued his redemption tour with some good glove work and a home run in the 5th. Medlen pitched 5 innings, giving up just the two home runs, before giving way to Franklin Morales. A Bautista RBI single in the 8th made the score 11-4.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the blowout. In the 9th, the Royals made some noise off of old friend Liam Hendricks. Escobar singled and Zobrist doubled. Cain hit one hard to deep right but Bautista caught the loud out, limiting it to a sacrifice fly. Hosmer singled in Zobrist and Toronto manager John Gibbons had seen enough. He fetched 20 year old closer Roberto Osuna. Kendrys Morales greeted him by launching his 1-2 pitch 455'. The crowd got quiet quickly as the Royals were now an uncomfortable 3 runs behind. The home run would prove to be a rally killer as Moustakas and Perez grounded out to end the game and preserve the Toronto victory. But even down 9-2 and 11-4 going into the 9th, the Royals reminded the Jays they were never out of a game. However, with questionable choice Chris Young going in Game 4 and Cueto re-broken, the Jays were not out of the series.

ALCS Game 4

(RR Game thread) (RR Recap)

(Ed Note: No Pulse of Postseason for this day)

Highlights: http://m.mlb.com/video/v524820083

Chris Young looks like he was built in a lab by people who hate baseball. Let's make him 7 feet tall, give him an 84 mph fastball, make him old, name him Young, and let this stupid sport burn itself to the ground.

-Ryan McGlaughlin

There was a fair amount of discussion over who should start game 4 for the Royals: Young (linked above) or not Young (Medlen). The debate boiled down to "extreme flyball pitcher in homer friendly Rogers Centre against a homer friendly lineup" Chris Young or "RHP-killer and DIPS-baffling" Chris Young. It was rendered moot after Medlen was called upon in game 3. The Blue Jays countered with knuckleballer and 2012 Cy Young Award winner Robert Allen Dickey.

Escobar (more about his first pitch swinging in the, spoiler alert, World Series post) became the first player in MLB history to have leadoff hits in the first four games of a playoff series. He pushed a bunt down the 3rd base line and Donaldson couldn't find the handle. On the third pitch of the game, Zobrist hit one to right that Bautista could only watch: 2-0 Royals. Cain walked and stole second and Hosmer singled. With Morales at the plate, a knuckleball got past Martin and Cain scored under Dickey's tag. Gibbons challenged but the play was upheld. Hosmer scored after a Morales ground out and Moustakas sacrifice fly. In the 2nd, Rios hit his first postseason home run and the Royals were up 5-0. After putting on 2 more runners, Dickey's day was over.

It is very apparent that RA Dickey does not have it at all

-Denny Matthews

Chris Young worked around a walk in the first and threw a 1-2-3 second but got into trouble in the 3rd. With 2 on and only 1 out, the Royals caught a break as a Donaldson line drive to left skipped over the wall for a ground rule double. Bautista drove home another run with a ground out but the Jays only scored 2 in the inning. After Hendricks relieved Dickey in the 2nd, he faced the minimum number of Royals for the next four innings. However, Young limited the Jays before giving way to Hochevar with 2 outs in the 5th. Luke finished the inning and threw a 1-2-3 6th. Kansas City was still up 5-2 after 6.

While the game was in danger of becoming a nail biting bullpen finish, Toronto's combo of LaTroy Hawkins and Ryan Tepera made sure it was not. Hawkins only faced 3 batters, walking Perez(!) on 4 pitches(!!) and then giving up singles to Gordon and Rios. Then the death by a thousand paper cuts: Escobar hit a sacrifice fly to score Perez, Gordon scored on a wild pitch, Zobrist walked, Cain drove in a run with a single, and Hosmer did the same with a sacrifice fly. KC 9 TOR 2. The 8th was little different with Perez starting things again, this time with a double. Gordon walked and Orlando singled to load the bases. Escobar with another sacrifice fly, Zobrist with a single this time, and Cain with another RBI single. Kansas City 12-2. In the 9th, Mark Lowe couldn't stop the Royals either. And when the bullpen door opened to end his day, it revealed SS Cliff Pennington. Yet another first in MLB history: This was the first time a position player had pitched in the playoffs. If Gibbons hoped that a rallying cry of "can't even get hits off the infielder" would boost his team for future games, he was mistaken. The Royals teed off on Pennington's 90 mph fastball and plated two more for a 14-2 final score.

The Royals owned a commanding 3-1 lead in the ALCS. However, to put this in perspective: if the Royals went on to win the World Series, this game would only be the halfway mark for wins needed with 6 down and 5 to go. This also begin the Great Baseball Library Feud of '16:

ALCS Game 5

(RR Game thread) (RR Recap)

(Ed Note: No Pulse of Postseason for this day)

Highlights: http://m.mlb.com/video/v525166383

One one hand:

"If we could win this game, it's gonna be really fun watching 35 drunk guys try to get through customs"

-Ned Yost

On the other hand:

Anybody else notice that the Jays / Royals series is becoming an exact reverse mirror image of the 1985 ALCS?

Game 1, 1985: Blue Jays win at home by five runs
Game 1, 2015: Royals win at home by five runs

Game 2, 1985: Blue Jays win at home scoring six runs in a game they once trailed 3-0
Game 2, 2015: Royals win at home scoring six runs in a game they once trailed 3-0

Game 3, 1985: Royals win as the bats wake up at home scoring in four different innings
Game 3, 2015: Blue Jays win as the bats wake up at home scoring in four different innings

Game 4, 1985: Blue Jays win on the road pushing the Royals to the brink of elimination
Game 4, 2015: Royals win on the road pushing the Blue Jays to the brink of elimination

Game 5, 1985: Royals win at home sending the series back to Toronto with an outstanding pitching performance from their No. 3 pitcher
Game 5, 2015: The Jays have their No. 3 pitcher starting at home tomorrow in a game they need a big performance from.

I don’t think I need to keep going here, but the Royals won both games 6 and 7 on the road in 1985. Will this odd reverse mirror image series continue?

-Matt Gross (Purple Row)

Estrada started game 5 and he was outstanding. He put up a 73 game score compared to Danny Jackson's 76 in Game 5 of 1985. Through the first six innings, he faced the minimum, giving up a single to Escobar in the 4th but erasing him on a double play. Volquez nearly matched him, only giving up 3 hits through 5. Unfortunately, one was a solo home run to Colabello in the 2nd. In the 6th inning, Volquez began to falter. He was only at 64 pitches but it was his third time through the order. He was still throwing a hard 97 but control was starting to elude him on his pitches outside. He was not helped by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna: "Son, when you pitch a strike, Mr. (Bautista) will let you know.".

Volquez walked Revere on 7 pitches and then hit Donaldson with the next one. Bautista worked the above 10 pitch walk. The count went full on Encarnacion and the 6th pitch of that AB missed to walk in a run. At only 88 pitches but the bases loaded and still no outs, Yost called for Herrera. He struck out Calabello. However, Tulowitzki liked the first pitch he saw and one-hopped it to the wall. The bases clearing, for all intents and purposes, ended the game. Other runs were scored as Duffy gave up a pair in relief and Perez hit a solo home run. Estrada left in the 8th to a standing ovation but the game was decided in the 6th: the final score was 7-1. The Royals came into the game needing 1 game out of 3. Now they only had 2 chances left to secure their return trip to the World Series. Fortunately, the series shifted back to Kansas City (unless one believes the 1985 mirror image theory).

ALCS Game 6

(RR Game thread) (RR Recap)

Pulse: http://m.mlb.com/video/v525687683/

Highlights: http://m.mlb.com/video/v525694183

My God, Game 6 had everything.

-Rany Jazayerli (linked below)
(Ed note: I don't necessarily agree but I like the quote)

For Game 6, the starting pitchers were a repeat of Game 2 with Price bringing his 7 start postseason losing streak against Ventura's 6.57 2015 postseason ERA. Anticipation was high as the Royals had a chance to clinch a return trip to the World Series in front of the home fans but tensions were also high as no one really wanted to contemplate a Johnny Cueto Game 7 start after his Game 3 shellacking.

After Revere led off the game with a double, Ventura starting a string of 10 straight Blue Jays retired. In the home 1st, Zobrist gave the Royals a 1-0 lead with a home run down the left field line. With 1 out in the 2nd, Moustakas hit an apparent home run to right center. However, upon further review, a 19 year old fan named Caleb Humphreys caught it. Rany's picture shows the ball just before he gloves it:

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It appears the ball was going to go under the railing but over the padding. The ground rules are such that:

Batted ball in flight striking the top of the outfield wall above the out-of-town scoreboards and bouncing over the fence: Home Run.

Batted ball in flight striking the railing above and behind the out-of-town scoreboard in right field and rebounding onto the playing field: Home Run.

-CBS

In Toronto, someone clad in Royals blue had clearly interfered with a ball in play and it should be a double. In Kansas City, it appeared to be a home run by ground rules and there was not video evidence enough to overturn it. In the replay booth in New York, the latter won out and the ruling on the field stood, giving the Royals took at 2-0 lead. When asked by Erin Andrews in the 4th, Humpreys pretty much lied to a national television about what they had just seen. A few seconds after the interview concluded, Bautista hit a 431' bomb to deep left to cut the lead in half.

Ventura continued to flirt with danger as he walked two Blue Jays to lead off the 5th but got out of it unscathed. In the 6th, his night ended on a 1-out double to Encarnacion. Hererra ended the threat and kept the Jays off the board in the top of the 7th. As for the Royals offense, after Moustakas's home run in the 2nd, Price had given up no runs and struck out 8 Royals. Moose singled to lead off the bottom of the 7th but then Revere made "a spectacular backhanded catch", diving into the fence, robbing Perez and the Royals. For some Royals fans, the catch may have been overshadowed by this hilarious exchange on the other end:

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After an Alex Gordon grounder moved Moose to 2nd with 2 outs, Gibbons replaced Price with Aaron Sanchez. Alex Rios delivered with a solid line drive to left, plating a valuable insurance run: 3-1 Royals.

In the 8th, Yost was faced with a bullpen decision, complicated by weather. A line of rain showers was working its way through Kansas City, likely to reach the stadium around the 8th or 9th inning. Herrera has already gone 1.2 innings.and thrown 21 pitches. There was a real danger that whoever came in for the 8th would be lost when the rain arrived. The decision made was controversial at the time and became even moreso after the fact, but one could rationally see the line of thinking: go to reliable set-up man Madson before the rain delay and closer Davis after.

Revere reached on a high chopper between Escobar and Moose, putting the tying man on. Madson struck out Donaldson looking on a 97 mph fastball that painted the black. After Bautista fouled off the first pitch, Fox cut to a pensive and ruminating Yost in the dugout. Madson's 96 mph fastball that followed was deposited 386 feet away in the left field stands by Bautista. The camera showed Yost looking away as Bautista's blast tied the game.

After working a full count on Encarnacion, Madson bounced ball 4 up to the plate and he was done for the night. Rain or no rain, Ned summoned Davis. He was working on 5 days rest and hopefully that would be enough to endure the delay. Colabello popped to Zobrist for the 2nd out of the inning. The 2nd pitch to Tulowitzki's went all the way back to the wall and Encarnacion moved into scoring position. With the rain beginning to fall, Tulowitzki got ahead 3-1 before Davis struck him out to end the inning. But the damage had been done: the game was tied, Madson was gone, Davis was in, and, when the game returned from commercial, the tarp was on the field.

During the delay, Yost explained his thinking to Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews. The Royals crew had warned of the coming rain, and it factored into his moves:

"This is what I was kind of hoping to stay away from, getting Wade in the ballgame and then raining," Yost said. "But, you know, it was at a point where we had to do it, so Wade will come in."

-CBS

Forty five minutes later, the game resumed in the bottom of the 8th. Lorenzo Cain worked an 8-pitch leadoff walk off of Roberto Osuna. Eric Hosmer lined a single down the right field line and, as Joe Buck said of Cain during the call: "He can fly!"

Jirschele, 56, the Kansas City third base coach who never played in the big leagues, had done his own intelligence work. He noticed that when there is a runner on first base and a ball is hit toward the rightfield corner, Bautista would make the long throw on the fly to second base. He alerted the Royals about this habit, and for the runner on first to be ready to be waved all the way home from first base. 'We were aware of that possibility,' Jirschele said. 'I told the guys, ‘Be ready. Watch me.’ Yes, we talked about it.'

-Tom Verducci

Cain sprinted hard around 2nd and, as he was coming to 3rd, Bautista's throw went to Tulowitzki on 2nd rather than a relay man. Jirschele windmilled Cain home and he beat the throw, giving the Royals a 4-3 lead. The Royals threatened with 2 on and 1 out but could not push across any further insurance. After sitting for an hour, Davis needed to protect a 1 run lead.

Martin blooped a single to CF and the Jays had the tying run on base in the form of speedy pinch runner Dalton Pompey. On the first pitch to Pillar, the Toronto speedster got into scoring position. Five pitches later, he had swiped another base. The tying run stood on 3rd with nobody out, a medium depth fly ball all that was needed. Two pitches later, Pillar walked, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Hochevar warmed in the Royals pen in case Davis could not regain control of the strike zone. Davis was in trouble, Madson gave up the game tying home run, and Herrera gave up a game-breaking bases loaded double in Game 5. Was Kansas City bullpen magic spell broken?

Dioner Navarro pinch hit for Ryan Goins. Davis got a generous strike 2 call on the outside corner and Navarro swung through an identical pitch for strike 3. Pillar stole 2nd, putting the go ahead run in scoring position. With a 2-1 count, Ben Revere had the same strike 2 call as Navarro and he was visibly upset. After swinging through strike three, he spent some time rearranging the Jays dugout with his bat.


After striking out Dioner Navarro (Moment #67), and striking out Ben Revere (Moment #26), all that was left for Wade Davis to do to get out of one of the biggest jams of his career, complete one of the gutsiest relief performances of all time, and secure the pennant, was to retire Josh Donaldson. The soon-to-be-named AL MVP Josh Donaldson, who had hit .297/.371/.568 on the season. The MVP of the league vs. the best reliever in baseball, with two outs in the 9th, the tying run on third base, and the go-ahead run on second base, in Game 6 of the ALCS. It’s possible to draw up a more perfect final battle for the American League championship, but it’s not likely you’ll actually see one.

Donaldson grounded sharply to 3rd base. To deafening cries of "MOOOOOSE", Moustakas threw across the diamond to Hosmer to end the game. Bautista ended the game on deck while the Royals celebrated their second consecutive pennant.

If not for everything else that had happened on that night, it might have gone down as the "Wade Davis" game. Instead, this game is a collection of high leverage and memorable moments: Moose's fan caught home run, Bautista's two home runs, Cain's hustle score from 1st, and Davis escaping the 9th inning jam after surviving the rain delay. The Royals and their fans partied long into Friday night. The Kansas City library ended its feud with Toronto's and Posnanski penned his post-mortem.The World Series would begin Tuesday night with Kansas City hosting the New York Mets.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.