Championship ALCS6: TOR vs. KC — And we have a World Series…

Well, we have two teams to play the World Series now. The Royals will face the Mets for a best-of-7 starting Tuesday in Kansas City (AL home field advantage thanks to the AL win at the All-Star Game this past July).

ALCS 6 — Blue Jays at Royals

Even the rain couldn’t kill the Royals’ drive for the World Series tonight. A 45 minute rain delay in the middle of the 8th inning slowed play action, but with the score tied, perhaps it was the recharge the Royals needed to regroup and find their groove again. Whatever it was, it worked for them, but then the Blue Jays weren’t exactly letting them run over them that easily.

And I will give the Blue Jays credit for the excellent pitching by their starter Price. He’s not had such good luck this postseason at all, but today he held things together much better and his pitching was really pretty sharp tonight. The Royals got the best of him a bit — 5 hits, 3 runs, and a walk, but struck out 8 times over his 6.2 innings. The Royals hit him twice early — a solo home run in the 1st and one in the 2nd — to take the lead. The Blue Jays got their own solo home run in the 4th to halve the score.

And there they sat dividing up the innings between the great pitching by the starters and the Royals’ first reliever in the 6th and 7th innings. The Royals found a lapse in the 7th inning against the tiring Price with a lead-off single that ended up on 2nd 2 outs later. Price was replaced by the Blue Jays’ first reliever to finish off the inning, but a solid single scored that runner and gave the Royals an insurance run they didn’t know they would need.

In the 8th, the Blue Jays knew it was make-or-break time and found their moment with a new reliever. A lead-off single and an out set the stage for a 2-run home run that tied up the game. And as the rain started to fall, the powers that be decided to put the tarp on the field and wait out the front marching its way across the area. The sold-out crowd covered up and/or found cover in the stadium, the players stayed dry under the dugout overhang, the managers gave interviews to sideline reporters, and the colorful broadcasters (including former players Frank Thomas and Pete Rose and current Yankee Alex Rodriguez) both gave their opinions on the game thus far and showed off why they’re called “colorful” broadcasters. (And Twitter had fun with screen shots and random off-the-cuff comments from said “colorful” broadcasters.)

Anyway, after the rain passed through the area and the tarp came off the field, it was the Royals turn to see if they could do something about that glaring tie they had on the big crown-topped scoreboard out over center field. A lead-off walk scored all the way from 1st on a nice single to give the Royals the go-ahead run. Despite getting 2 runners on base with no outs, the Blue Jays realized they were letting the game slip away and buckled down to get the three outs they needed to get out of the inning, including a nice double play.

But with their well-established closer ready to come back (despite the rain delay), the Royals were ready to get their 3 outs to clinch their spot in the World Series. But a 1st-pitch single got a runner on base. A pinch-runner then stole 2nd and 3rd as the closer walked the batter. A strikeout and stolen base put both runners in scoring position with just 1 out. A much-needed strikeout gave the Royals and their over 40,000 fans hope. A little ground ball to 3rd base to get the runner at 1st ended the inning, the game, and the Blue Jays attempt at getting to the World Series.

Final: 4-3 Royals, Royals win series 4-2, Royals clinch ALCS and advance to World Series.

Shortstop Alcides Escobar was named the ALCS MVP. I can’t imagine this was an easy selection as so many players contributed to the Royals’ win, but Escobar was the most consistent batter and defender this particular series — going 11-for-23 (.478 average), 5 RBIs, and 6 runs scored.

My postseason predictions so far (hey, I did pretty good this time around!):

  • ALCS:
    • My prediction: Royals over Blue Jays in 6 games
    • Reality: Royals over Blue Jays in 6 games
    • Result: WIN!! (Gold stars all around here, except in Toronto where I’m thinking they’ve all become hockey fans once again.)
  • NLCS:
    • My prediction: Mets over Cubs in 5 games
    • Reality: Mets over Cubs in 4 games (a sweep)
    • Result: I was kinder to the Cubs than reality, but still I was pretty close, just off by a game.
  • World Series:
    • My prediction: Mets over Royals in 6 games
      • Reasoning: Mets have that team dynamic that just clicks, and they really have all year. Between their superhero pitchers and Daniel Murphy, I can’t see the Royals doing much to slow down the Mets’ momentum. However, the Royals do not give up easily and love late-inning comebacks (like we saw the Yankees do a lot this season), and if they start on their own momentum, the Royals are next to impossible to stop. So I think we’re going to see a pretty tight series, with some pretty ridiculous pitching all around.
      • But then again, anything is possible…

Who are you rooting for next week?

Go Yankees!

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