2015 ALCS Preview: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays


It’s time to party like it’s 1985. The American League Championship Series will feature the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals, a rematch of the 1985 ALCS. The Blue Jays are in the ALCS for the first time since 1993, the year they won the second of their back-to-back World Series championships, while the Royals are in the Championship Series for the second season in a row.

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The Blue Jays were nine outs from being eliminated in controversial fashion during Wednesday’s game five. The Texas Rangers took a lead in the top of the seventh, when Jays’ catcher Russell Martin attempted to throw a ball back to the pitcher, but his throw hit the bat of Shin-Soo Choo (the batter, who was still in the batter’s box). The ball ricocheted away, allowing Rougned Odor to score from third base, and putting Texas up 3-2. From there, the inning would only get weirder, if you can believe that.

To their credit, the Blue Jays kept their composure, even as hometown fans unleashed a cacophony of deafening boos, and littered the field with trash and beer cans. Texas, on the other hand, fell apart. The bottom of the seventh was as strange a half-inning as is possible, and it went like this: Elvis Andrus error on a misplayed groundball; Mitch Moreland error on a bad throw to second (which Andrus could have conceivably picked from the turf); Andrus error on a missed catch for a force attempt at third; groundball force out at home; force out on a blooper just over Rougned Odor‘s head, scoring a run to tie the game at three.

Jose Bautista finished things off, as he crushed a monster three-run home run, and capped it off with an insanely good bat flip, that put Toronto ahead 6-3, which would eventually be the final score. There were more bench-clearing incidents (two) than hits (one) in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Royals trailed their series with the Houston Astros two games to one, and in game four, they were also on the verge of elimination. Entering the eighth inning, the Royals trailed 6-2, but scored five runs on the strength of five singles, an Astros’ error, and an RBI groundout. They added two insurance runs in the ninth, and would win 9-6 to even the series at two games apiece. In game five, Houston scored twice in the first thanks to a Luis Valbuena home run, but Kansas City would end the game with seven unanswered runs to send the Astros home for a long offseason.

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4 under the radar Phillies prospects named Organization All-Stars by MLB Pipeline
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  • These two teams are where they are for two different reasons. The Blue Jays specialize in an offensive onslaught, while the Royals’ bullpen is their niche. In the regular season, Toronto led baseball with 232 home runs as a team, and 891 runs scored (127 more than the second-place New York Yankees). Josh Donaldson hit 41 home runs, Bautista hit 40, and Edwin Encarnacion hit 39. Add in Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, Chris Colabello, Justin Smoak, just to name a few, and the Blue Jays have the deepest lineup in baseball.

    The Royals’ bullpen was their biggest strength in leading them to the World Series in 2014, and this year figures to be no different, if they are to take the next step again. Even without their normal closer Greg Holland, who is another Tommy John victim, they have a sort of murderer’s row of really good relievers to use. Two-thirds of the three-headed monster they featured last year as still around, as Wade Davis is now the closer, and Kelvin Herrera is his set-up man. Of course, with the importance of each game the highest its been all season, those roles will no longer be set. If you’re needed, you will pitch, even out of your normal role. Add in Luke Hochevar and Ryan Madson, and the Royals have four high-quality relievers with which to get through the late innings.

    Kansas City can hit a little bit too, and their big offseason signing, Kendrys Morales, proved to be an extremely valuable addition. As their primary designated hitter, he batted .290 with 41 doubles, 22 home runs, and 106 RBI. He carried it over into the ALCS, where he bashed three home runs and drove in six runs. Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez make the Royals’ lineup quite formidable in its own right.

    Toronto and Kansas City clashed seven times in the regular season, and Toronto took four games to the Royals’ three. Can that success carry over, or will the Royals get their revenge?

    Here is the full schedule:

    Game one: Friday, October 16th, at Kauffman Stadium

    Game two: Saturday, October 17th, at Kauffman Stadium

    Game three: Monday, October 19th, at the Rogers Centre

    Game four: Tuesday, October 20th, at the Rogers Centre

    Game five: Wednesday, October 21st, at the Rogers Centre (if necessary)

    Game six: Friday, October 23rd, at Kauffman Stadium (if necessary)

    Game seven: Saturday, October 24th, at Kauffman Stadium (if necessary)

    Next: Chase Utley May Have Saved 2010 Giants