When both American League Division Series' moved to Texas for their two games in the state, there were few people that could have guessed what would happen.
There was no disputing that the Rangers held the upper hand over the Blue Jays with their 2-0 lead and the Astros had given the Royals a run for their money in both games in Kansas City.
The Blue Jays were on the cusp of elimination and most believed that they wouldn't even bring the series back to Toronto, the Royals had struggled early and the Astros seemed to have a slight advantage.
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While at one point it looked like it would be an all-Texas ALCS, as the Texas governor mentioned, one would be surprised to know that not even one Texas team made it past the ALDS this year as the Blue Jays and Royals both won game 5 in their respective cities.
For the first time since 1993, the Toronto Blue Jays are headed to the American League Championship Series. The Blue Jays went ahead on a monster home run by Jose Bautista in the seventh inning that served as the final nail in the coffin for the Rangers who went on to win 6-3.
The rest of that seventh inning also proved vital as Toronto entered the inning being 3-2 and came out with a lead that they would ride all the way to an ALCS berth. An offensive surge coupled with Rangers errors in that one inning helped seal the game for the Blue Jays.
Bautista Bombs One
After three errors that loaded the bases, Josh Donaldson blooped a single to bring home the tying run. Jose Bautista then unloaded everything he had on what is now being referred to as, "Toronto's biggest home run" since Joe Carter's walk-off home run to win the 1993 World Series.
Some Rangers are still coming to terms with what happened and the fact that their season is over as Adrian Beltre said,
"I'm not ready to go home, I can't process it. I'm not ready for it to be over. It's not supposed to happen but it did."
The comeback was just another game in the series where the Blue Jays surprised everyone. They rose up in Texas facing a 0-2 series hole and won two straight games to bring it back to their home. There was also an air of tension as the benches cleared and Mark Buehrle was ejected. There was also an odd moment where Russell Martin's throw back to the pitcher hit Shin-Soo Choo's bat and allowed Rougned Odor to score from third.
Both Marcus Stroman and Cole Hamels had strong games, with the Rangers' errors proving to be what led to their demise as Hamels was only charged with two earned runs. Marcus Stroman had six innings where gave up two runs on six hits, being given a no-decision for his performance.
The Blue Jays face the Royals in the American League Championship Series. The best of seven series will begin in Toronto on Friday.
The Astros entered this postseason as novices to October baseball. They hadn't been there since 2005 and after finishing off the Yankees, they had to face the Kansas City Royals, not novices for sure. The Astros quickly showed all of baseball they weren't a team to be messed with.
They took the first game of series and the third game as well. In the two games the Astros won they held the Royals to two runs each time and always gave the Royals a challenge, even if they ended up losing.
Even though Kansas City took game five and the division series in a 7-2 win behind a strong performance from Johnny Cueto, the Astros showed their season was no fluke.
Speaking after game five, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer commented on the resiliency of the Astros,
"We worked real hard to get back to this point. You've got to tip your cap to Houston right there, they played a heck of a series. It seemed like we were coming back or we were behind with our backs against the wall pretty much every single game. So just a great series overall. I'm glad we could come out on top."
The Astros and Royals were both confident going into game five, Kansas City had home field advantage, Houston had ace Dallas Keuchel on the mound. Unfortunately for the Astros, the Royals' Johnny Cueto showed his ace-like qualities in a dominant eight-inning performance that saw only two hits and two runs.
The Astros jumped out early with a 2-0 lead on two-run home run from Luis Valbuena in the second inning, but that capped the scoring for them as Johnny Cueto settled down to throw six more innings of scoreless baseball.
Cueto Came Through
Cueto had some rough spots in the season, but when it mattered most today he came through in a big way for the team. Cueto retired the last 19 batters he faced, the first time since that was done since 1953 when Don Larsen did it. Royals manager Ned Yost said about Cueto's performance:
"He was unbelievably good. He didn't make a bad pitch all night. That pitch that Valbuena hit was a good pitch. He came in after the eighth inning and was lobbying to go back out in the ninth."
With the night that Cueto was having, he was justified to want to go out in the ninth.
Lorenzo Cain hit a single that led to a run on an Eric Hosmer single, helped by a Carlos Gomez slip in the outfield. The Royals were able to take the lead in the fifth inning with an Alex Rios two-run double, followed by a Kendrys Morales three-run home in the eighth off Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel didn't have a bad night by any means, Cueto just had a better night.
Just like 1985, the Royals, and the Blue Jays face off in the ALCS. That series ended in the Royals heading to the World Series after 7 games.
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