The American League playoffs are fun and wild and that proves even truer as both series are going to a Game 5 to determine who advances to the American League Championship Series. The Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays both forced a Game 5, staving off elimination on the road, defeating the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers respectively. Both the Royals and Blue Jays will return home for the decisive games.
Royals vs Astros
These two teams have exchanged wins throughout the first four games of this series, with the most exciting game coming in Game 4. The Astros looked to be heading to the ALCS with a 6-2 lead, thanks to Carlos Correa’s second home run of the game and a Colby Rasmus solo homer heading into the top of the eighth until the Royals erupted for five runs to take the lead. The first four batters of the Kansas City 8th singles and eventually all scored. Kendrys Morales came up with the bases loaded and hit a ground ball off the pitcher’s mound and Correa couldn’t come up with the ball and that led to two runs being scored. Alex Gordon added an RBI on a groundout to make the score 7-6. The Astros were held scoreless in the 8th and Eric Hosmer added some insurance in the top of the 9th with a two-run home run. This is a huge swing of momentum for the reigning, defending AL champs, heading back home to Kauffman Stadium for a decisive Game 5. The Astros are a young team so it will be interesting to see how they will respond.
Houston rode the momentum of winning the wild card game into game one, taking it in Kansas City, 5-2. Rasmus and George Springer each hit solo homers to help back starter Colin McHugh who went six innings, giving up four hits and a pair of solo home runs, both to Morales. The Royals answered back in Game 2, 5-4. Catcher Salvador Perez went 2-3 with a home run and two RBIs to help Kansas City even the series. Houston handed the ball to their ace Dallas Keuchel in Game 3 and he delivered yet again, scattering five hits over seven innings while only giving up one run and striking out seven. Chris Carter led the offense by going 3-3 with a home run.
Game 5 will see Colin McHugh taking on Johnny Cueto Wednesday Night.
Blue Jays vs Rangers
This series looked to be over after Texas took the first two games of the series in Toronto before heading back home. Toronto was able to force a winner-take-all Game 5 after winning both the games played in Arlington. The Blue Jays showed why they led the league in home runs and runs scored by belting three homers and scoring eight runs. Josh Donaldson connected on a two-run home run in the top of the first inning. Chris Colabello hit a solo shot later in the inning. Kevin Pillar got in on the act with a solo home run of his own in the top of the second. Pillar finished the game with three RBIs, while Donaldson and Colabello finished with two each. David Price got his second career postseason victory, pitching three inning in relief of starter R.A. Dickey.
In Game 1, Robinson Chinnos and Rougned Odor each hit home runs off Price and Yovani Gallardo pitched five innings, giving up four hits and two runs, earning the victory. Game 2 saw the two teams battle into the 14th inning before Texas took the lead with four-straight, two-out hits to go ahead and win the game. That was the longest playoff game in either team’s history. In Game 3, Troy Tulowitzki batted in four of the Jays’ five runs, including a three-run home run. Marco Estrada pitched 6 and 1/3 innings giving up just one run on five hits and striking out four.
Game five will be Wednesday afternoon at the Rogers Centre in Toronto where Cole Hamels will toe the rubber for the Rangers. Hamels is 7-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 14 career postseason starts. For the Blue Jays, 24-year old Marcus Stroman will make his scrims career postseason start in the high-stakes game. Since the Divisional Series began in 1995, the team that has went up 2-0 has won the series 42 of 47 times. Will the statistic ring true or will the comeback be completed?