In a finish for the ages, the Royals sealed their spot in the World Series on Friday night.
Just edging the Blue Jays by a score of 4-3, the Royals took game six to win the American League pennant. They were able to stave off the Blue Jays and a game seven thanks largely in part to Lorenzo Cain.
Cain led off the eighth inning with a walk and ended up scoring from first base on a single. He turned on the jets as Eric Hosmer laced one down the line, going from 1st base to home plate in just above 10 seconds, reaching a speed of 20.7 MPH to get there.
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This was the go-ahead run that gave the Royals their 4-3 lead. There is no doubt that the combination of Cain’s speed and heads-up base running proved vital to the Royals’ victory.
Strong Offense from Both Teams
The Royals jumped out to an early lead through homers from Ben Zobrist and Mike Moustakas. After a few quiet innings, Alex Rios hit an RBI single to make 3-1 in the seventh inning. After a 45-minute rain delay came the one of, if not the most important play thus far in the Royals’ postseason when Cain flew from first to score the go-ahead run.
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The Blue Jays put up quite a fight in this one too. Neither team’s offense was exceptionally special in this game, but for Toronto they got offense from just one player. Jose Bautista hit a home run in the fourth inning off Yordana Ventura to get the Jays on the board and then followed in the eighth inning with a two-run bomb off Ryan Madson to tie the game for the Blue Jays. With his two home runs, Bautista became the first Blue Jay to hit multiple home runs in a postseason game.
In terms of pitching, both teams got solid performances from their respective staffs. Royals starter Yordano Ventura gave the team 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball and set the bullpen up nicely. Kelvin Herrera came in after Ventura and went five-up-five-down. Ryan Madson struggled, of course, with the Bautista home run that tied the game, but Wade Davis was able to come in and restrict any further damage.
On Toronto’s side, David Price gave the Blue Jays 6 2/3 innings but gave up three runs. In most cases, this is an excellent performance, but in the postseason every run counts for more, yet Price was nothing less than what Toronto could have hoped for. Even Robert Osuna pitched well, despite giving up the go-ahead run. Had it not been for Cain’s lightning fast speed, the Blue Jays could have prevented any runs from scoring and kept the game tied at three. It was just that one pitch that Hosmer was able to send just a bit far down the line that gave Cain the extra advantage.
Alcides Escobar was awarded the MVP award for his above average performance throughout the series. The shortstop went 11-23 (.478) which included three extra-base hits and five RBIs. Escobar said about the award,
"Just a dream come true, it never crossed my mind to win the MVP in the postseason. Thankfully things went well for me. I'm thankful they gave me the MVP."
Going Forward: World Series Game One
The World Series will begin on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium. The newly minted American League Champions will face off against the red-hot Daniel Murphy and the NL Champ New York Mets. New York has already announced that young phenom Jacob DeGrom will start game one for the team. While the Royals go into the World Series with last October’s crushing defeat in their mind, the Mets haven’t been to the Fall Classic in 15 years.
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