Mets and Royals Set for World Series Rematch on Opening Night

This Sunday night, the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals will play in Kansas City to open up the 2016 MLB season. The game will be the last of four games being played on Sunday as part of Opening Day 2016. Both teams are very familiar with each other, as they faced off last October in the 2015 World Series.

The Royals will raise their World Series Championship Banner on Sunday night. It was just five months ago that they defeated the Mets in five games to capture their second championship in franchise history. As good as the Mets were, they could not handle the relentlessness of the Royals’ hitters. Kansas City’s shortstop Alcides Escobar especially hurt the Mets at the top of the lineup with his first-pitch aggressiveness. New York clearly had the better pitching in the World Series, but the Royals’  explosive offense overcame them.

Tensions will certainly be high on Sunday. For the Mets, the memory of the Royals celebrating after winning Game 5 at Citi Field is still fresh in their minds. The Royals are apparently seeking revenge as well, but for a much different reason. Game 3 of the World Series last year opened up with Noah Syndergaard throwing a pitch high and inside to Alcides Escobar. Clearly, this was meant to intimidate Escobar and to make sure he didn’t swing at the first pitch. The Royals didn’t take too kindly to this. They obviously didn’t retaliate right away, but reports came out this week that they’re planning on getting revenge. It’s unclear whether or not they will, but it’s definitely something worth watching for.   

It’ll be interesting to see if either team can get back to the World Series this year. The Mets boast one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball with Matt HarveyJacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Bartolo ColonZack Wheeler will join this stellar rotation later in the year, as he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Additionally, the team had a decent offseason, as they re-signed slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The also signed shortstop Asdrúbal Cabrera and traded for power-hitting second baseman Neil Walker. With this team, the Mets have a good chance to get back to the World Series.

The Royals are in a similar situation. Their team is not that much different than the one that won it all in October. The only thing that has really changed at all is the starting rotation. Johnny Cueto left Kansas City this offseason and signed with the San Francisco Giants. Cueto basically became the team’s ace after he was traded to them from the Cincinnati Reds back in July. He had a stellar start in Game 2 of the World Series, helping the Royals jump out to a 2-0 series lead. To replace Cueto, the Royals signed Ian Kennedy. Their starting pitching really isn’t their strength anyway. Probably their biggest strength is their fantastic bullpen, which includes Kelvin HerreraLuke Hochevar, and Wade Davis. These three pitchers make up a very dangerous 7-8-9 combo. All three were vital during the Royals’ playoff run last season. Their offense will also be a major factor again this year. In addition to Escobar, guys like Alex GordonLorenzo CainSalvador PerezMike MoustakasEric Hosmer, and Kendrys Morales are all poised to have good years. This Royals team is just as dangerous as they were last season. It would be a surprise to no one if they reached the World Series for the third consecutive year.

When both teams take the field on Sunday night, there will certainly be a lot of excitement in the air. Opening Night of the baseball season is always a great night in the sports world. Matt Harvey will start for the Mets, while Edinson Volquez will go for the Royals. The 2016 MLB season is finally ready to commence. It’s time to get it started.

LaRoche Opts For Early Retirement

Many people were surprised when it was announced on Tuesday that first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche had informed the Chicago White Sox that he was stepping away from baseball. His early retirement was not something the team was expecting.

LaRoche, 36, is reportedly stepping away from the game due to a personal problem. Colleen Kane of The Chicago Tribune first reported the news. LaRoche spoke to his teammates and coaches on Tuesday and told them his decision. No one was expecting this. The announcement really came out of nowhere.

Part of the reason that LaRoche’s retirement is so shocking is that he’s walking away from a lot of money. He would have made $13 million in 2016. The White Sox had signed him to a two-year, $25 million contract back in November of 2014. The fact that he’s turning away $13 million means that LaRoche must really feel that it’s time to leave the game.

Although he was being paid a lot of money last season, he didn’t have a very good year. In fact, 2015 was statistically the worst year of his carer, as LaRoche batted just .207 and hit 12 home runs while collecting only 44 RBIs. He certainly didn’t live up to his contract.

This subpar season could have factored into his decision to retire. However, it seems as though the main reason for his retirement is something that team president Ken Williams said to him. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported on Wednesday afternoon that Williams had told LaRoche that he had to cut down on the amount of time that his 14-year-old son Drake was spending with the team. LaRoche obviously didn’t take too kindly to this. It’s unfortunate that this situation ended in him retiring.

LaRoche was definitely a major power threat in his prime. Over the course of his 12-year career, he hit 25 or more home runs in season six times. His best season came in 2012 with the Washington Nationals when he belted 33 homers and had 100 RBIs. Both were career-highs. That year, he also won the Gold Glove Award for first base, as well as the Silver Slugger Award. Additionally, LaRoche finished sixth in the NL MVP Award voting in 2012.

Last year, the White Sox turned LaRoche into a designated hitter. He stilled played a little first base, but the majority of the games he played in 2015 were as the team’s DH. His offensive numbers declined rapidly, especially compared to what they were in Washington. However, he’d still probably be playing right now had it not been for the argument with Williams. After all, he was set to make $13 million in 2016.

This story surrounding Adam LaRoche’s retirement is extremely bizarre. He had a decent career, and hopefully he’ll enjoy retirement. Clearly, family come first for him.

Orioles Sign Former Pirates Slugger Pedro Alvarez

The Baltimore Orioles just added some more depth, despite Spring Training being in full swing. Last Tuesday, the team reached an agreement with former Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman/first baseman Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez and the Orioles agreed on a one-year, $5.75 million deal. Signing a contract in March is obviously pretty late. However, Alvarez still has enough time to get acquainted with his new team. It’s unclear right now what his role will be with Baltimore. A good left-handed power bat, the Orioles are going to want to fit him in somewhere in the lineup.

The only positions Alvarez has played in his career are third base and first base. He has also served as the designated hitter when the Pirates faced AL opponents. There’s no way he’s going to play first base, as that’s where Chris Davis plays. Davis is one of the Orioles’ most dangerous hitters. Alvarez won’t play much of third base either. Manny Machado occupies that position for the Orioles. Machado played in all 162 games in 2015. Another reason he probably won’t be playing much of the field is the fact that Alvarez isn’t really a good fielder. He made 27 errors at third base in 2013, and 25 the following year. The Pirates decided to turn him into a full-time first baseman for the 2015 season. The move didn’t really help, as he still committed 23 errors at his new position.

If he’s not going to play the field, then the only other option will be to have Alvarez be the Orioles designated hitter. That is, unless they decide to use him as a bench player. Mark Trumbo was originally going to be the DH for Baltimore this year. However, he can also play the outfield. It’s now much more likely that the Orioles start Trumbo in right field so Alvarez can be the DH. Both players have a lot of power, so it wouldn’t make sense to put one of them on the bench.

The Orioles’ outfield situation then becomes more complicated. Trumbo would most likely start in right field. Adam Jones is the team’s starting center fielder. Nolan Reimold is probably going to be the starting left fielder. That leaves Dariel Alvarez and Hyun Soo Kim as backup outfielders. Kim played in the KBO League in South Korea until the Orioles signed him to a two-year, $7 million contract back in December. Alvarez was set to be the starting right fielder this year for Baltimore, but that all now changes because of the signing of Pedro Alvarez. Both outfielders will most likely still see some playing time, but not as much as they would if Trumbo was still the team’s DH.

There’s a reason the Orioles need to get Alvarez in the lineup. The 29-year old has put up good power numbers in his career. His best year came in 2013 when he hit 36 home runs, which was tied for the most in the National League that season. That year, he also collected a career-high 100 RBIs and was named an All-Star for the first time. Last season, he hit 27 homers and drove in 77 runs. The Pirates are definitely going to miss his bat. He was one of the biggest power threats in their lineup.

Pedro Alvarez is going to have a major impact on the Orioles. Something that brought them down in 2015 was not having enough left-handed hitters. They were too dependent on righties to carry their lineup. With Davis, Reimold, and now Alvarez, they now have a more balanced lineup. Not only is Alvarez a left-handed bat, he’s also a great power hitter. This was a very smart signing. The Orioles are now a better team than they were at the start of Spring Training.

Will the Blue Jays Pay José Bautista?

One of the biggest stories in Spring Training thus far centers around Toronto Blue Jays outfielder José Bautista. The 35-year old slugger is in the final year of his six-year, $78 million contract with the team. He has already expressed his interest in staying in Toronto beyond 2016, but not without a lucrative deal.

The Blue Jays have already approached Bautista about signing a long-term contract extension. However, what he wants might be more than they’re willing to pay. It was reported earlier this week that he wants a five-year, $150 million extension. If the Blue Jays were to agree to this, it would mean that Bautista would make $30 million per year. That’s a lot of money to give a guy who turns 36 in October.

There’s no doubt that Bautista is a very talented player. He’s a six-time All-Star who has put up tremendous power numbers over the course of his career. He led the American League in home runs in 2010 and 2011 with 54 and 43 homers respectively. Over the last six years, he’s driven in over 100 runs in a season four times. Bautista’s value cannot be understated. However, he is getting older. With age usually comes a decrease in production. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t still be a good player. It just means that he won’t be hitting 40 plus homers in a season anymore.

This then begs the question, will the Blue Jays decide to pay Bautista what he wants? The answer- probably not. What he desires is not only a good amount of money, but a lot of years. If he signs a five-year deal, he’d be 41 by the time it’s up. The Blue Jays probably do not feel that he is worth $30 million a year for five more years. A few years ago, Bautista certainly would have gotten the contract he wants. Back then, he was in the prime of his career. As he advances into his mid-thirties however, he’ll be hard-pressed to find a team that will pay him that much.

What all of this means is that José Bautista will most likely be on another team in 2017. What team that might be remains unclear for now. One team that could possibly land him is the Boston Red Sox. They haven’t shied away from spending a lot of money on free agents recently. Look at the contract they just gave David Price. New general manager Dave Dombrowski has shown that he’s not afraid to be aggressive when it comes to free agents. He’s also not reluctant to spend money. Another reason why Boston would be a good fit for Bautista is he’s already familiar with the manager, John Farrell. He managed the Blue Jays from 2011-2012. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bautista decided to reunite with his old manager.

It’s uncertain right now how the José Bautista situation will play out. Unless he lowers his asking price, it probably won’t end in him signing a contract extension with the Blue Jays. Will another team give him all the money he wants? Considering how much MLB free agents are getting paid today, it really wouldn’t be all that shocking.

Why Justin Morneau Makes Sense For the Yankees

On Monday, the New York Yankees received devastating news. It was announced that their young first baseman Greg Bird needed to have season-ending shoulder surgery. The initial injury to the shoulder occurred last spring, but Bird battled through it for the entire 2015 season. However, doctors recommended this week that he have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He underwent the surgery on Tuesday.

Obviously, losing Bird is not good for the Yankees. Although he was expected to begin the 2016 season in the minor leagues, it was widely believed that he would be called-up at some point during the season. The 23-year old made a good first impression last season, batting .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in just 157 at-bats. Being that Mark Teixeira’s health status is a big question mark, it would have been nice for the team to have Bird as a secondary option. Teixeira missed the last few weeks of 2015 due to a fractured shin. It was at that point that Bird took over as the everyday first baseman. He impressed many with his left-handed power, perfect for Yankee Stadium. Yankee fans got a glimpse of the future.

Right now however, the Yankees need to focus on signing another first baseman. There’s always the risk of the 35-year old Teixeira re-injuring himself. He’s been very injury-prone over the last few years. Justin Morneau is the perfect fit for them.

Currently a free agent, Morneau makes a lot of sense for the Yankees. A four-time All-Star, he’s a veteran left-handed power bat that can still play first base. Right now, he’s the ideal backup first baseman for Teixeira. When Alex Rodriguez needs an off-day, Morneau could also serve as their designated hitter.

Morneau, 34, is a 13-year veteran. In 2006, he won the AL MVP, batting .321 with 34 home runs and 130 RBIs. After spending almost 11 full seasons with the Minnesota Twins, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in late 2013. He signed a two-year contract with the Colorado Rockies the following offseason. Morneau won the NL batting title in 2014, hitting .319.

Although Morneau had a sort of career resurgence in 2014, this past season didn’t fare so well for him. He battled through a few injuries, including a concussion and a neck injury. He only had 168 at bats in 2015, hitting three home runs and collecting just 15 RBIs. This subpar season was really due to Morneau’s injuries. He’s healthy as of right now.

It would be foolish if the Yankees didn’t take a hard look at Justin Morneau. They don’t need him to be the MVP player he was in 2006, or even the batting champion he was in 2014. All they need is for him to be a serviceable backup first baseman who will be prepared to step in if Mark Teixeira gets injured. There are other options out there at first base, but Morneau is the best available one. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman needs to make a call. He better do it before someone else does.

 

Why the Orioles Cannot Keep Waiting For Chris Davis

While the MLB offseason continues, the Baltimore Orioles continue to negotiate with slugging first baseman/outfielder Chris Davis. Now it appears as though Davis is willing to sign a one-year contract with a team. However, the Orioles cannot continue to let the negotiations with him hinder them from making other moves this offseason.

The Orioles have to realize that at this point, paying Davis might not be worth it. Even if they brought him back on a one-year deal, the team would still have the same problem next offseason. They know that he eventually wants to sign a lucrative, long-term contract. Signing Davis to a one-year deal would just mean delaying the inevitable.

Davis, 29, has been with the Orioles since late 2011. He was traded to them along with pitcher Tommy Hunter from the Texas Rangers in exchange reliever Koji Uehara. Davis had immediate success in Baltimore, taking advantage of the shorter dimensions of Camden Yards. His best season came in 2013 when he belted 53 home runs and drove in 138 runs. He led the AL in both categories that year. He led the AL in homers again last season when he hit 47. Davis has one of the best power bats in all of baseball. If the Orioles do not sign him, another team certainly will.

No matter how good Davis has been for Baltimore, the team cannot let him control their entire offseason. They’ve already made a couple of good moves, but talks with him have prevented them from doing anything else. Back in early December, the Orioles acquired first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo and relief pitcher C. J. Riefenhauser from the Seattle Mariners for catcher Steve Clevenger. Like Davis, Trumbo is a power-hitting first baseman that can also play the outfield. Although doesn’t put up quite the same power numbers as Davis, he has hit over 30 home runs in a season twice in his career. In addition to trading for Trumbo, the Orioles also signed Korean outfielder Hyun soo Kim to a two-year, $7 million contract. Kim will most start in left field for Baltimore next season.

Ultimately, the discussions with Chris Davis are preventing the Orioles from seriously getting involved with two major free-agent outfielders. These two players are Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton. It appears as though the market is finally starting to take shape for both of these free-agents. The Orioles have been linked to both, but are being held back by negotiations with Davis. Cespedes especially would be a really good fit for the Orioles. He’s a good defensive outfielder with a great arm who is also a tremendous offensive player. As he showed with the New York Mets in August and September of last year, his bat can help completely transform an offense. He could be the type of impact power-hitting outfielder that Nelson Cruz was for the Orioles in 2014. Along with Adam Jones and Hyun soo Kim, Baltimore would have three very good offensive outfielders. Upton is a good player, but wouldn’t have quite the impact that Cespedes would. No matter what though, they cannot seriously talk to Cespedes or Upton until they decide to move on from Davis.

The Orioles need to decide what they’re going to do about the Chris Davis situation sooner rather than later. If they really feel that he’s worth it, then they should go all in on him and offer him a long term contract. It wouldn’t make sense for them to offer Davis a on-year deal and then go through this again next offseason. If he continues to keep them waiting, they need to realize that it’s time to move on. Trumbo could basically be his replacement. Cespedes and Upton won’t be free-agents forever. Eventually, they will be signed. If the Orioles continue to let Davis control their offseason negotiations, they’ll risk missing out on both players entirely.

 

Why it Does Not Pay to Have Power in the MLB

Chris Davis hit 47 home runs last year. Chris Davis still has not been signed by a team this offseason.

There is no denying that the MLB is currently a pitchers game. Only one player has broken the 50 home run plateau in the past four years, and that player was in fact Davis, who hit 53 home runs in 2013. Now, you would think that teams would be breaking the bank for Davis’ game-changing power, but that is in fact not the case.

Go back to last year, the reigning home run leader (Nelson Cruz) was also a free agent. Cruz eventually signed with the Mariners on a four year-$58 million contract . That is no where near the seven year-$210 million dollar contract that the Nationals inked with Max Scherzer.

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

This same scenario is basically playing out this year, the Red Sox recently signed David Price to a seven year-$217 million contract, which is the largest contract for a pitcher in the history of baseball. Davis is going to get nowhere near that much money,  even though he has the ability to change the game with one swing of the bat.

Now some teams are still willing to dish out money to position players, as Marlins Owner Jeff Loria showed when he signed Giancarlo Stanton to a 13 year-$325 million mega-deal . Now Stanton is a once in a generation talent, but no athlete is worth $325 million dollars, but when have the Marlins ever made a decision that makes sense?

(USA Today)

(USA Today)

Now Davis will sign somewhere eventually, and he will probably be a huge contributor where ever he signs. But the deal will be nowhere near what his power is worth.

David Price Agrees to Mega-Deal With Red Sox

After missing out on signing Jon Lester last offseason, the Boston Red Sox went through the 2015 season without a true ace. Going into the offseason, newly appointed President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski knew that his number one priority was to sign a top pitcher. On Tuesday, he did just that.

The Red Sox and veteran lefty David Price have agreed to a seven-year, $217 million contract. The signing was first reported by Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe on Tuesday evening. The contract includes a clause where Price can opt-out after three years. The deal is the most lucrative ever for a pitcher. It’s even larger than the seven-year, $215 million contract extension that Clayton Kershaw signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers following the 2013 season. Price will make about $31 million a year with the Red Sox, making him one of the highest-paid players in all of baseball.

Price is no stranger to the AL East. He was with the Tampa Bay Rays for almost seven years. The Rays traded him to the Tigers at the trade deadline in 2014. He played in Detroit for a year, and then found himself back in the AL East when he was traded at the deadline again, this time to the Toronto Blue Jays. Price’s contract was up at the end of 2015, and the Red Sox jumped at the opportunity to sign the five-time All-Star.

While it may be true that the Red Sox might have overpaid a little for Price, he has proven that he’s a legitimate ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball. In his time with the Rays, he went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA. His best season in Tampa was in 2012 when he went 20-5 with an ERA of 2.56. Price won the AL Cy Young Award that year for the first and so far only time in his career. This past season, he went a combined 18-5 with the Tigers and Blue Jays and finished with a career-best 2.45 ERA. He finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting behind Dallas Keuchel. The reality of it is that if the Red Sox didn’t offer Price this much money, another team probably would have. Good players are always going to get the big contracts.

As good of a career as Price has had, his only achilles heel has been the postseason. In 14 career postseason games, he’s 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA. Most recently, he struggled with the Blue Jays in the 2015 postseason, going 1-2 with an ERA of 6.17 in 23.1 innings pitched. Despite going to the playoffs six times with three different teams, Price has never won a championship The closest he came was in 2008 when the Rays lost in the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Since being traded from the Rays, Price has certainly had a wild year and a half. The Red Sox will be his fourth different team in the last two years. Boston will be his third stop in the AL East. If he does not opt-out, Price will be 37 when his contract with the Red Sox is up. Boston could be his final destination.

Dombrowski is already being very aggressive this offseason. He acquired All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres in November. Now he’s signed one of the top free-agent pitchers on the market. We’ll see if his efforts pay off next season for the Red Sox. Only time will tell.

 

World Champion Kansas City Royals…and a dark night in Gotham.

World Series – Game 5 – New York

“NO WAY” mouthed the Dark Knight of Gotham after taking a 2-0 lead to the dugout following eight scoreless innings highlighted by nine strikeouts and a pitch count at 102. NO WAY, Matt Harvey was going to let the messenger, pitching coach Dan Warthen, or manager Terry Collins remove him from the biggest game of his life and the Mets’ season.

Collins saw the confidence in Harvey and rolled the dice. NO WAY I can second guess a decision that allowed for a classic 9th inning to unfold. We were getting to enjoy a stellar starting pitching performance that was exceeding what Johnny Cueto did for the Royals in Game 2 when he went the distance in a 7-1 Kansas City win. This was good stuff no matter how you slice the Big Apple.

If there was no way we needed to see Jon Niese, Addison Reed or Bartolo Colon help Harvey get through the 8th then there was certainly no way we needed to see stopper turned pumpkin Jeurys Familia help the Mets superhero finish off the Royals in the 9th to force a game six.

However, there was also NO WAY the Kansas City Royals were going to be denied a World Championship in 2015. Here are the final brush strokes to a colorful season of celebrating in Kansas City.

  • Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to lead off the 9th.
  • Harvey was then allowed to work from the stretch, but didn’t work in a pick off throw so of course Lorenzo Cain easily stole 2nd base.
  • Eric Hosmer doubled home Cain to make it 2-1. Harvey was finally removed from the game and in entered Jeurys Familia.
  • Mike Moustakas advanced Hosmer to 3rd on a ground out to first.
  • It was Salvador Perez’s groundball to David Wright that doomed the Mets. The drawn in Wright sort of looked Hosmer back to 3rd base before throwing out Perez at first. Only problem, Hosmer decided to break for home to give the routine play some color. Lucas Duda butchered the throw home and just like that a sliding Hosmer had tied the game at two.

The game headed to extra innings after the Mets failed to score in the bottom of the 9th.

  • Leading off the 12th inning of a 2-2 game, World Series MVP Salvador Perez singled against Addison Reed.
  • Jarrod Dyson pinch ran for Perez and Travis d’Arnaud once again had no shot at throwing out a runner as Dyson stole second.
  • Alex Gordon advanced Dyson to 3rd on a ground out to first.
  • Because everybody should be allowed to play, the Royals sent Christian Colon to the plate as a pinch hitter. Colon’s line drive single to left scored Dyson to give Kansas a 3-2 lead. It was Colon’s first postseason at bat and hit, but the Royals were just getting started.
  • Playoff MVP, if the playoffs ended after the NLCS, David Murphy misplayed a Paulo Orlando ground ball and for the second night in a row Murphy immediately applied the lip balm as if that provided some kind of quick fix or diversion. The Mets defense was charged with six errors in the series, but had other tough defensive breaks.
  • Time to cash in. Alcides Escobar doubled home Colon to make it 4-2.
  • Following Reed’s intentional walk of Ben Zobrist to load the bases, Bartolo Colon was summoned.
  • Lorenzo Cain sealed the deal with a 3-run double to make it 7-2.
  • In the bottom of the 12th, Drew Butera got some playing time for the Royals and caught the final pitch from Wade Davis when Wilmer Flores was caught looking to clinch the World Championship for Kansas City.

It’s Kansas City’s first World Championship since 1985 (2nd overall). It comes one year after they were 90-feet away from tying game seven of the World Series against Madison Bumgarner. That 2014 heartbreak against the Giants is a feeling the Royals carried with them this season. Maybe it was visible as a chip they appeared to have on their shoulder when a game or two or three or theirs got feisty, but Sunday night all you could see was joy and the celebratory goggles (I believe Jeremy Guthrie had a snorkel) that accompanied the World Series trophy.

Looking back we see the Royals built a large lead in the AL Central early and finished tops in the AL with 95 wins. I tend to think 2014 was a smoke and mirrors act for the Royals until they reached the postseason. Not the case in 2015 as statistically and visually many of the Royals looked like improving players.  This year’s playoff run featured a 5-game challenge in the ALDS against the up and coming Astros followed by a 6-game triumph against the also upstart Toronto Blue Jays.

Kansas City won the first two games of their Fall Classic against the Mets 5-4 and 7-1. The Game 1 win featured tying the game in the 9th, before winning in the 14th. The Mets appeared to climb back in the series after Friday’s 9-3 Game 3 win.

Not so fast. The Royals 5-3 comeback win in Game 4 Saturday after being down 3-2 in the 8th set the stage for another comeback on Sunday. It’s what they do.

This postseason the Royals outscored the opposition 51-11 in the 7th inning or later. It’s a stat that clearly tells the tale of a Royals’ team that never stops applying pressure and more times than not can push the hammer down so the bullpen can turn out the lights. The Mets were the finest the National League had to offer, but because of the Royals it was a dark night in Gotham and a celebration to befit a king in Kansas City.

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Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays Hold On To Force ALCS Game 6

Marco Estrada and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to their season as the defeated the Royals 7-1 to force a game six of the ALCS.  Game one winner Edinson Volquez came in to game five on Wednesday to try to close things out and send the Royals to their second straight World Series.  Volquez was out-dueled by Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada.

The game opened with a perfect first inning by both pitchers and a perfect second by Estrada. In the bottom of the second, Chris Colabello blasted a change up from Volquez over the left field walls of Rogers Centre. The score stayed 1-0 in favor of the Jays as the Royals were not able to do anything off of Estrada, who carried a perfect game into the fourth inning, when he allowed a single to the red hot Blue Jay killer Alcides Escobar (who had 4 RBIs in game four on Tuesday). The next batter, Ben Zobrist, grounded into a double-play to keep Estrada at the minimum number of batters faced.

The Royls did not tally another hit off of Estrada until the eighth inning, when Salvador Perez homered to right field; by that time, the Jays had already added six more runs to their impressive lead thanks to RBIs by Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki (3 RBI) and Jose Bautista. Estrada pitched into the eighth inning and was replaced by Aaron Sanchez after allowing a Sal Perez bomb and an Alex Gordon single. Sanchez allowed an eighth inning single but was able to end the threat.

Danny Duffy pitched the eighth for the Royals and allowed one run courtesy of an RBI double by Kevin Pillar. Roberto Osuna finished off the Royals and secured the Jays another baseball game.

In game four on Tuesday, the Royals offense scored 14 runs on 15 hits; on Wednesday, the Royals were only able to tally one run on four hits. Toronto put up seven runs on eight hits. The Royals 2-3-4-5-6 hitters went a combined 0-17 on Tuesday afternoon.

Royals starter Edinson Volquez finished with 5 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO and 1 HR.  Marco Estrada dazzled and dealt; he finished with 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO and 1 HR. The Royals’ bats cooled down and the Jays brought theirs to life and were able to savor their season for at least one more game.

3 Stars of the Game:
#3- (TOR)- RF Jose Bautista- 2-3, RBI, BB, run
#2- (TOR)- SS Troy Tulowitzki- 2-4, 3 RBI, run
#1- (TOR)- SP Marco Estrada- 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR

Royals Yordano “Ace” Ventura will look to clinch his team a spot in the World Series in game six on Friday night in Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have won four straight elimination playoff games.

David Price takes the mound for the Blue Jays as he will now try to keep their season alive and force a series deciding game seven that would take place on Saturday night in Kansas City.

First pitch of game five will be at 8:07 PM ET, 5:07 CT on Friday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.