Royals win the ALCS: 12 things to know about the Game 6 win
The Royals are going back to the World Series. Here are 12 things to know about their ALCS Game 6 win over the Blue Jays.
The Kansas City Royals are going back to the World Series. Friday night the Royals beat the Blue Jays 4-3 (box score) in Game 6 of the ALCS to clinch the AL pennant. They won the best-of-seven series four games to two.
The Royals will take on the Mets in the 2015 World Series, which doesn't begin until next Tuesday. The Fall Classic will begin in Kansas City because the AL won the All-Star Game back in July. Here are a dozen things to know about Game 6 of the ALCS.
1. The 2-1 call to Revere changed EVERYTHING ...
Let's skip to the top of the ninth: the Blue Jays, trailing 4-3, had the game-tying run on third base with no outs. Russell Martin started the inning with a single, then pinch-runner Dalton Pompey stole second and third.
Wade Davis rebounded to strike out Dioner Navarro for the first out, then, with Ben Revere staring at a 2-1 count, Davis got a gift call from home plate up Jeff Nelson to even the count 2-2. Here's the strike zone plot via Brooks Baseball:
That is from the catcher's perspective. Pitch No. 4 is the pitch in question. It's clearly off the plate and it changed the at-bat dramatically. Revere should have had a 3-1 count. Instead it was a 2-2 count. Huge difference. Davis struck him out for the second out, then Josh Donaldson grounded out to end the ALCS.
2. ... but it's not the reason the Blue Jays lost either.
Nelson's call on the 2-1 pitch to Revere was very bad and it hurt the Blue Jays big time. It's also not the reason they lost. They had the tying run at third base with no outs, so they had three chances to get him in, and they failed all three times. Also, Toronto went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position in Game 6. 0 for 12! They had chances earlier in the game in addition to that ninth inning. Nelson's call was bad. The Blue Jays' situational hitting was way worse.
3. The rain delay came at a bad time for the Royals.
Game 6 was interrupted by a 45-minute rain delay between the top and bottom of the eighth inning. Royals skipper Ned Yost acknowledged the rain affected his bullpen usage. Here's what he told Erin Andrews during an interview with Fox Sports 1 during the rain delay:
"They hit it pretty well on the nose. They said it was going to come down at about 9:55 to 10 o'clock and it would last about 10:15 to 10:20. They said it was a small cell and it should pass quick."
"We'll see how long it takes. Wade's upstairs staying loose. You know, this is what I was kind of hoping to stay away from, getting Wade in the ballgame and then raining, but, you know, it was at a point where we had to do it, so Wade will come in. He's upstairs. Got a heat wrap on his arm in the weight room staying loose."
Rather than go to Davis for a six-out save, Yost went to Ryan Madson to face the top of the order in the eighth, and Madson allowed the game-tying two-run home run to Jose Bautista. It wasn't a terrible pitch either -- a fastball up and out of the zone. Bautista turned it around in a hurry though (video):
So rather than go to Davis for the six-out save -- Davis closed out Game 4 of the ALDS with a six-out save, and he hadn't pitched since Saturday, so he was well-rested -- Yost went to Madson because he didn't want to lose Davis during a rain delay. In the end, Madson blew the lead and Yost ended up using Davis n the inning anyway.
Of course, it didn't matter in the end. The Royals took the lead immediately after the rain delay and Davis remained in the game to close it out anyway. He wasn't particularly sharp in that ninth inning but still got the job done.
3a. Also, this is noteworthy. Bautista did stuff a Blue Jays player had never done before in October:
Also, if you haven't already heard, Jose Bautista is the first Blue Jay ever to hit 2HR in one playoff game & 4HR in a single postseason.— Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) October 24, 2015
Bautista had a monster postseason. He went 12 for 41 (.293) with four home runs, 11 RBI and more walks (eight) than strikeouts (seven) in 11 playoff games.
4. Bautista goes from G.O.A.T. to goat.
That said, Bautista made an ill-advised throw on Eric Hosmer's single in the eighth inning, allowing Lorenzo Cain to score what proved to be the game-winning run all the way from first. Hosmer ripped a single to right, Bautista ran it down, spun around and threw blindly towards second base, and Cain took advantage. Bautista didn't necessarily miss the cutoff man, he threw to the wrong base entirely. He's got to get the ball to the cutoff man near first base for the best chance to get Cain at the plate. His throw went to the second base bag and that opened the door for Cain to score. The play at the plate wasn't even close.
5. The Royals hit Price really hard in the first few innings.
The Royals jumped on David Price for two home runs in the first two innings -- Ben Zobrist hit a solo shot in the first, and Mike Moustakas hit a controversial solo shot in the second. Both ball were well-struck, obviously. There's also this:
The Royals did not hit multiple HRs by the end of the 2nd in a home game all year. Zobrist and Moustakas have already homered in Game 6.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 24, 2015
Early on every ball in play was well-struck against Price. Statcast does not make exit velocity available for every ball in play live during the game, so here's the data we have for the first time through Kansas City's order:
Alcides Escobar ground out: 101 mph
Ben Zobrist home run: 100 mph
Lorenzo Cain ground out: no reading
Eric Hosmer ground out: 108 mph
Kendrys Morales fly ball: 98 mph
Mike Moustakas home run: 109 mph
Salvador Perez strikeout
Alex Gordon strikeout
Alex Rios fly out: 88 mph
Price held opponents to an 87.95 mph average exit velocity during the regular season. The league average was approximately 88.6 mph. And yet, five of the first six batters -- possibly all six since we don't have a reading for Cain -- hit the ball 98 mph against Price. Even the outs were crushed. It was ominous.
6. Price settled down quite nicely.
After the Moustakas home run, Price retired 16 of the final 20 batters he faced, and one of the four baserunners was a little infield single that didn't even reach the infield dirt. There were eight strikeouts mixed in there, and of the 12 batters who managed to put the ball in play, only five hit it out of the infield. The two home runs put the Blue Jays in an early hole, but, all things considered, Price pitched very well with his team's season on the line.
7. Donaldson hit into some bad luck in a critical at-bat.
There was a pivotal moment in the fifth inining of Game 6. Yordano Ventura walked the first two batters of the inning before getting Ryan Goins and Revere to fly out harmlessly for the first two outs. With the Royals nursing a 2-1 lead, Donaldson came to the plate with the tying run at second, and hit a 114 mph line drive ... right at Moustakas for the final out.
Here's the video:
That is straight up bad luck. Donaldson did everything right and still made an about. That 114 mph line drive is tied for Donaldson's hardest hit ball of 2015, according to Baseball Savant. He hit a 114 mph double off Trevor May of the Twins on May 29th. Crazy. It's better to be lucky than good, and the Royals are lucky are lucky Donaldson hit that within fall down range of Moustakas.
8. The Blue Jays came out swinging.
It appeared Toronto's early strategy was swing early and often. They swung at seven of Ventura's nine pitches in the first inning -- leadoff man Ben Revere took the first two pitches of the game. Opponents hit .324 with a .477 slugging percentage when they put one of the first two pitches of the at-bat in play against Ventura during the regular season. It was .218 with a .339 slugging percentage from the third pitch on. I don't know if that's why the Blue Jays came out swinging, but it at least suggests swinging early wasn't a bad idea.
9. Price allowed a stolen base for the first time all season.
Rios, a former Blue Jay, stole second base with two outs in the fifth inning -- Toronto challenged the safe call and it was upheld -- and, believe it or not, that was the first stolen base Price allowed this season. Heck, only two runners even attempted to steal against him in 2015: Moustakas was thrown out on May 2 and Manny Machado was thrown out on July 18. That's all. Teams didn't even try to steal against Price in the regular season, but Rios succeeded in Game 6. He didn't score, but still. Amazing it took so long to steal a bag against Price.
10. Herrera has really emphasized his breaking ball this postseason.
Ventura's night ended when Edwin Encarnacion ripped a double into the left-center field gap with one out in the sixth. Kelvin Herrera came out of the bullpen, got the next two outs, then retired the side in order in the seventh as well to protect what as then a 2-1 lead.
Herrera used 21 pitches to record those five outs, and those pitches were broken down into 12 fastballs and ninebreaking balls. He's been throwing a ton of breaking balls this postseason after throwing relatively few in the regular season:
Kelvin Herrera season: 6% breaking balls playoffs: 23% breaking balls— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) October 24, 2015
Not coincidentally, Herrera has struck out 50 percent of the batters he's faced in the postseason after striking out 22.4 percent during the regular season. He changed up the scouting report. Hitters haven't been able to sit on his triple digit heater in October.
11. Rios hammered his former team in the ALCS.
Every time he stepped to the plate during Games 3-5 in Toronto, the Rogers Centre crowd let Rios hear it with a loud chorus of boos. He spent parts of six seasons with the Blue Jays and was productive (105 OPS+ and 20.4 WAR), though he never did live up to the hype. The crowd let Rios have it.
And Rios in turn let the Blue Jays have it in the ALCS. He went 7 for 19 (.368) with a home run and 3 RBI in the series, including a huge two-out, two-strike, run-scoring single in the seventh inning of Game 6. It was a big insurance run the Royals ultimately needed due to Bautista's eighth inning home run.
12. Revere's catch shouldn't be forgotten.
It was not as good as the Endy Chavez catch, but boy, Revere made a spectacular leaping catch to rob Perez of extra bases in the seventh inning. Look at this:
Incredible. If he doesn't catch that, there's a pretty good chance Moustakas scores all the way first on the play, which changes the game big time. The Blue Jays still lost, but man, that was a brilliant play to keep the game close. What a catch.
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