Championship Series ALCS5: KC vs. TOR, NLCS4: NYM vs. CHC — A pushback & a sweep

I woke up this morning thinking that by the end of this day we could have two definite contenders for the World Series this year, solid wins in each league, as both the Royals and the Mets needed just 1 more win to secure their respective league championship titles. And one of those came through, but the other is still battling off a team that’s not ready to give in just yet. Unfortunately for you “special fans” of a certain storied franchise this year purely for cinematic reasons, especially on today of all days, it was not to be.

Game 1: ALCS 5 — Royals at Blue Jays

Bottom line with the Blue Jays’ game today: they were better pitchers than the Royals by far today in every aspect. It didn’t start off that way. The Blue Jays had a slim lead with a solo home run in the 2nd, but nothing further for most of the game. In fact, the Royals starter did a pretty good job through his first 5 innings, but he faltered quite a bit as he entered the 6th inning. He loaded the bases with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk, and then walked in a run, keeping the bases loaded. His night was over as he had yet to record an out in the 6th inning.

The Royals reliever promptly got a strikeout, but a big bases-clearing double added 3 more runs to the Blue Jays’ total. He got 2 more strikeouts to get out of the inning, but the damage was clearly done. A new Royals reliever added another run in the bottom 7th with back-to-back doubles. He also gave up one more in the bottom of the 8th — a 1-out single scored on a 2-out RBI double. It was a little too close for comfort as that batter tried to stretch his double into a triple, but got tagged out at 3rd just after the run scored, so the Royals challenged it (rightly so) just to check the timing, making sure to know when the run actually scored (if he tagged home after the out, his run wouldn’t count), but the replay upheld the call on the field — run scored, out at 3rd to end the inning.

Again, Toronto’s pitching was just amazing tonight. Their starter was something stellar, going deep into the 8th inning, giving up just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run — a 2-out solo home run in the 8th, that ended his night. His relievers effectively shut down the Royals, including the 5-pitch 9th inning.

Now, the game heads back to Kansas City to see who’s going to get that fourth win of the series first. Kansas City just needs one more win to clinch, but Toronto is still in there, aiming to win these next two games.

Final score: 7-1 Blue Jays, Royals lead series 3-2.

Game 2: NLCS 4 — Mets at Cubs

Okay, fairweather Cubs fans, blame Marty McFly for messing with the space-time continuum. That butterfly effect does massive damage, including messing up the kind of future we’ve come to expect for the last nearly 30 years, like the Cubs sweeping Miami in the World Series (in 5 games of what I’m assuming is a 9-game series). (Or you can enjoy this adjusted clip to accurately portray what happened in Chicago tonight.)

No, for whatever reason (*cough*Daniel Murphy*cough*), the Mets just pummeled their way through the NLCS and took the National League title tonight in a decided sweep of the Cubs, right in front of the Second City crowd. A little bit of good pitching, a little bit of strong offense, a little bit of decent defense, and a whole lot of sheer adrenaline and drive carried the day for the Mets.

The Mets’ offense started the game off in attack mode with a lead-off single. Two outs, a stolen base, and a walk later, a big 3-run home run jumped the Mets ahead. And that was followed by a solo home run and the Mets were off and running. With 1 out and 1 runner on base with a walk in the 2nd inning, the Cubs’ starter was done for the night. Not that their bullpen held much of a challenge for the Mets’ drive tonight. A new reliever gave up a single and a strikeout before a big double scored both runners. The Mets were up 6-0 in the middle of the 2nd inning.

The Mets’ starter had a bit more luck fending off the Cubs. His lone issue was the 4th inning — loading the bases with no outs, a ground out would score just one of those runners before he got out of that jam and that inning. He still didn’t make it far in the game, coming out of the game in the 5th inning. After that, both teams hit a bit of a stalemate, perhaps the 6-1 score was a bit either comforting or paralyzing (depending on your perspective).

It would be the 8th inning before anything else but a zero went up on the scoreboard. The Mets had a runner on base with a 2-out walk as that intrepid infielder Murphy got a big 2-run home run to push the Mets further ahead. That homer would make him the first player to hit homers in 6 consecutive postseason games and earn him the NLCS MVP. (But really, was there anyone else even in contention for this at this point?)

The Cubs got 2 more runs back when a lead-off double in the 8th scored on a 2-run home run to move them away from that lone run winking at them from the big scoreboard. But that would be it.

The Cubs simply could not seem to live up to 2015 predictions from a 26-year-old movie, but then again, the deck has been stacked against them since history defied them at every corner (the Miami MARLINS joined the NATIONAL League and thus couldn’t ever face them in the World Series, and the redistribution of the divisions to create the WILD CARD and thus the NLDS added in to push the World Series further into October.) Again, blame Marty McFly for altering history, if you must.

Final score: 8-3 Mets, Mets sweep series 4-0, Mets are the NLCS champions and clinch the NL World Series berth.

Travel and off-day tomorrow… enjoy your Thursday! And Happy Back the Future Day! I certainly enjoyed mine, as I spent it with my brother fulfilling a promise we made with each other to spend this day together (and marathon the movies) about 25 years ago. Even though we don’t have flying cars or bright pink hoverboards or the Cubs winning the World Series, it’s fun to remember what we believed about the future so long ago — that anything is possible, even a Cubs’ championship or auto-drying clothes or self-tying shoes.

So like Doc Brown says at the end of the trilogy, “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”

Go Yankees!

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