2015 Championship Series Clinching Recaps

The NLCS and ALCS are in the books and we have our World Series matchup, the Kansas City Royals will take on the New York Mets. But first Rick Rowand and Pete Hodges have our 2015 championship series clinching recaps.

NLCS Game 4: The Recap

The New York Mets wasted no time in completing their sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Curtis Granderson singled off of Jason Hammel to start the top of the first inning. With two outs and Yoenis Cespedes at the plate, Granderson stole second and Hammel walked Cespedes to put men on first and second. Lucas Duda then hit a three-run homer to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. Travis d’Arnaud followed that up with a solo homer of his own, giving the Mets all the runs they would need. Hammel appeared to be unraveling as he hit Michael Conforto with a pitch and allowed a WIlmer Flores single, before retiring Steven Matz to mercifully end the first inning.

Matz retired the side in order in the bottom of the first inning, including striking out Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant.

After Hammel retired Granderson on a fly out to left field, he walked David Wright, and that would be all Joe Maddon needed to see from his starter. Travis Wood replaced Hammel and picked up where the starter left off, allowing a single by playoff hero Daniel Murphy. Murphy and Wright would score two batters later on a Lucas Duda double. Wood then struck out d’Arnaud to end the top of the second, but the damage was done with the score at 6-0 Mets.

The rookie lefty for the Mets continued his excellence as he faced the minimum in the bottom of the second.

Wood allowed a one out walk to Flores, but was bailed out when Flores was gunned down at second. Wood then struck out Matz for the first scoreless frame of the day for Cubs’ pitching.

Matz would face his first trouble of the day in the bottom of the fourth. A leadoff double by Jorge Soler followed by a Kris Bryant walk set up the first scoring play for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo loaded the bases with a single, and then two batters later, a Kyle Schwarber ground out scored Soler from third. However, Matz was able to escape the inning with no further damage, leaving the score at 6-1.

Matz was lifted in the fifth inning with two outs and men at first and second. Bartolo Colon entered the game and struck out Bryant to end the danger for the Mets. The bullpens then traded zeroes for two innings until the Mets were able to extend their lead in the eighth.

Fernando Rodney started the eighth inning for the Cubs and it started off well. He struck out the first two batters before walking Wright. However, Murphy came up and hit a two-run shot, extending his streak of home runs in consecutive playoff games to six. Rodney was then able to retire Juan Lagares to end the inning.

Tyler Clippard came out of the bullpen to pitch the eighth inning for the Mets and he didn’t fair any better than Rodney. A leadoff double by Soler was followed by a two-run homer by Bryant. However, Clippard settled down and retired the last three batters he had to face.

Jeurys Familia continued his postseason dominance as he closed out the game and the series for the Mets. The young closer has now pitched 9 ⅔ scoreless innings for the Mets this postseason.

ALCS Game 6: The Recap

There were more than a few storylines going into the 6th game of the ALCS between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals. Would Jays starter David Price finally be able to win a start in the postseason and even the series up at 3 each? Would Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura be able to keep his emotions in check long enough to get to the hard throwing KC bullpen? How many times would people tweet about stupid things that Harold Reynolds said during the broadcast? Would a kid from rural Kansas who looked like an escapee from an Amish community catch a controversial home run in right and become an instant celebrity?

Ventura started the game pitching out of the stretch and did so for the rest of the game. Ben Revere led off by doubling to right field. Ventura got out of the inning with no runs scored by retiring Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion out.

David Price also started out the game pitching from the stretch. Perhaps to change his luck. Perhaps just to simplify his mechanics . Whatever the reason, it didn’t work with Ben Zobrist as he hit the third pitch of the at bat into the stands in left to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

Ventura faced the minimum in the top of the second even with the hitters stepping out of the box to try to upset his timing to throw him off his game. It was a tactic the Toronto hitters would use repeatedly the rest of the night.   

In a repeat of the first inning, Price got the first hitter out and then gave up another solo homer. This time to Mike Moustakas to give KC a 2-0 lead. Replay had to confirm that their wasn’t fan interference as it looked like a  KC fan may have reached over the right field wall to snag a souvenir.

The score remained 2-0 until the fourth when Joey Bats decided to live up to his name and smoked a Ventura pitch to left to cut the lead to 2-1.  

Ventura was the first starter out of the game when he was relieved by Kelvin Herrera in the sixth with 1 out after Edwin Encarnacion laced a double deep in the left center gap.  

Meanwhile, David Price had really settled down and was pitching great, shutting down the free swinging Royals until the seventh when Moustakas led off with a single and then advanced to second on an Alex Gordon groundout. He was replaced on the mound by Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez gave up a single to Alex Rios, scoring Moustakas to give the Royals a 3-1 lead going into the eighth.

Ryan Madson took the mound to start the eighth for the Royals. The Royals pen had been a strength for the team all season. However tonight Madson looked human as Revere led off the inning with a single with the heart of the Jays lineup coming up. Donaldson struck out bring Bautista to the plate as the potential tying run.  And tie the game he did, depositing the second pitch into the stands.  After walking Encarnacion, Ned Yost brought in Wade Davis to get them out of the inning with no further damage. 3-3.

Before Roberto Osuna started the eighth for the Rays there was a rain delay of 40 plus minutes. Normally this wouldn’t be a concern for the Royals, but Wade Davis had already pitched in the eighth and was slated to pitch in the ninth. The question was how would he pitch after the extended delay. He stayed warm by riding a stationary bike and put heat packs on his arm so it wouldn’t tighten up.

Osuna walked Lorenzo Cain to start off the inning and then Eric Hosmer hit a single to deep right. Cain took off on a dead sprint and came around to score. This was the second time in the series that he’d scored from first on a single. It is very rare, and had only happened 20 times in all of MLB during the season. And it happened because the Royals’ third base coach, Mike Jirschele, noticed something when a ball was hit to right with a runner on first. Jirschele had noticed all series that Bautista usually threw to second in those situations.

“As soon I saw him release the ball to second,” Jirschele said, “I had Lorenzo coming in.” 4-3 Royals.

Closer Wade Davis came back out to start the ninth, but the long delay caused him to be a little shaky — walking catcher Russell Martin to lead off the inning. Dalton Pompey came in as a pinch runner and stole second and then third with Kevin Pillar at the plate. Pillar walked and John Gibbons brought in Dioner Navarro to pinch hit for Ryan Goins. Pillar stole second to take away the double play. The tension in the stadium was at 11. Davis was able to strike out Navarro and Revere. Donaldson then grounded out to end the game and to send Kansas City back to the World Series for the second time in as many years where they will face the Mets and their Fabulous Five starting staff.

Follow Rick and Pete on Twitter @rrowand and @PeterWHodges.

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