Royals defeat Blue Jays
4 games to 2
|Game||Date||Winning Team||Losing Team|
|1||Oct. 16||KC 5||TOR 0|
|2||Oct. 17||KC 6||TOR 3|
|3||Oct. 19||TOR 11||KC 8|
|4||Oct. 20||KC 14||TOR 2|
|5||Oct. 21||TOR 7||KC 1|
|6||Oct. 23||KC 4||TOR 3|
Managers: Ned Yost, KC; John Gibbons, TOR
MVP: Alcides Escobar
Path to the ALCS
ALDS:Kansas City over Houston (3 games to 2); Toronto over Texas (3 games to 2)
Josh Donaldson was the 2015 AL Most Valuable Player after leading the American League with 123 RBIs and posting an 8.8 WAR in his first season with the Blue Jays. But his brilliant season ended along with Toronto's when he finished an 0-for-5 performance in Game 6 by grounding out to third against closer Wade Davis with two men in scoring position and two out in the top of the ninth. It was a 114-mph scorcher that third baseman Mike Moustakas found -- matching the hardest-hit ball of the season for Donaldson -- but it merely made the Blue Jays 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position that night and decided a pennant.
Jose Bautista, who already had homered twice in the game, was stranded on deck, and the Royals were on their way to a return appearance in the World Series with that 4-3 victory. The Blue Jays' powerhouse lineup, bolstered by the arrival of Troy Tulowitzki before the Trade Deadline, had seemed formidable enough for a possible title bid, but the ending of that clincher spoke volumes about the master of Kansas City's bullpen and the hot trend of deep and dominating relief work. Not even a 45-minute rain delay late in Game 6 could disrupt Yost's bullpen.
Davis finished that final ninth with a strikeout-strikeout-groundout, allowing two baserunners to reach scoring position. It was his second scoreless relief outing of the ALCS. Even more untouchable was setup man Kelvin Herrera, who made five ALCS appearances and struck out 10 with no walks and no runs.
The young Royals club had come so close a year earlier in a seven-game World Series against the Giants, and the nucleus was driven to take the next step in this postseason. The Royals won the first two games in Kansas City, led by Series MVP Escobar, whose first two ALCS trips to the plate resulted in doubles, the second one to start the Royals' scoring. Kansas City showed that its magic was still alive in Game 2, when it recovered from a 3-0 deficit to score five runs in the seventh, all recorded to David Price, another major Blue Jay acquisition. The bullpen combo of Luke Hochevar, Danny Duffy, Herrera and Davis was in shutdown mode, sending the series to Toronto with KC in control.
Toronto struck early against Royals ace Johnny Cueto back at home in Game 3, tagging him for eight runs in two-plus innings for an 11-8 win -- much easier than the final score showed. But Kansas City refused to allow any kind of momentum, scoring four runs in the first inning of Game 4 and pouring it on with a 14-2 win that ensured a chance to clinch at home.
Tulowitzki's three-run double off Herrera was the big difference-maker in Game 5 as the Blue Jays stayed alive in what would be the last game in front of their rambunctious and rejuvenated fans. They had seen Toronto's penchant for comeback flair in the dramatic five-game victory over the Rangers in the ALDS, so this was hardly fait accompli through five games.
The Blue Jays' road ended in the next game at Kauffman Stadium, though. Again it was Price who was unable to deliver in a clutch postseason setting. He surrendered a solo homer to Ben Zobrist in the first inning and then another to Mike Moustakas the next inning. Price settled into a groove but was replaced by Aaron Sanchez after working into a jam to start the bottom of the seventh, and then Alex Rios -- who hammered his former team by going 7-for-19 (.368) with a home run and three RBIs in the series --proceeded to drive in Moustakas and give Kansas City a 3-1 lead.
Bautista tied it the next inning with a two-run homer, but it was Eric Hosmer's single that scored Lorenzo Cain with the decisive run in the bottom of the eighth. Bautista went from G.O.A.T. to goat with an ill-advised throw on the play.
The drama in the ninth inning created exactly the situation Toronto hoped for, but Kansas City's bullpen had the answers. That would be a common theme in the 2015 postseason.