I will readily admit, the 2015 Major League Baseball postseason thus far, has been one of the best top to bottom playoffs I remember over the past ten to fifteen years. While both Wild Card games were never much in doubt, the League Divisional Series sets have proven to be some of the best baseball drama-filled baseball games of the decade.
One series is already complete, as the “Back To The Future Part II” Chicago Cubs eliminated their hated rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday. The Cubbies behind excellent pitching and explosive bats–including a MLB-record six home runs in one single contest, punched their ticket to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003. How long ago was that? Well, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood were the 1A and 1B aces of that staff, and a guy named Steve Bartman became a part of the curse that has held the Cubs titleless over the past 107 seasons. Things could be turning around for this group however, and they’ll have to wait and see who wins the decisive Game Five out in Los Angeles between the New York Mets and host Dodgers.
While all the attention and drama has been focused on the rise of the Cubs, and a slide from Dodgers’ second baseman Chase Utley, were you aware that two down-to-the-wire comeback series were also going on in the American League? One side of the bracket has the Houston Astros, led by probable Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, who disposed of the New York Yankees in the Bronx with relative ease, against last year’s darlings, the Kansas City Royals, who won the AL Central for the first time since…1985, also the last and only time the Royals have won a World Series. The last time the Royals won their division, the Astros were in the National League West.
The drama began to unfold two days ago for these two teams, as the Astros jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the 7th inning. If the Astros could just get the final outs, the defending American League champions would be champs no more. With the heart of a true champion, the Royals refused to roll over and hand over the league crown to this upstart group of Stros, and came roaring back, putting up five runs of their own in the top half of the 8th inning, and tacking on two more in the final frame, to win Game Four 9-6. The decisive fifth and final game for a trip to the American League Championship Series will be played in Kansas City later today.
And their opponent? It looked liked the winner of the Astros/Royals was going to be fighting to face the Texas Rangers, whom I wrote about just as they were starting to heat up and gain some traction in the AL West on said Astros. Well, they did it, they came all the way back and won the division, and earned the right to face off against a feel good story in the AL East champion Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays overcame a seven game deficit to the Yankees, to win the division going away.
The Blue Jays appeared to be on the brink of a short stay in October baseball, after not having reaching the postseason since their last World Series title since 1993. The Rangers opened the series by taking Game One in Rogers Centre, and then crushing the hopes and dreams of Blue Jays fans, winning a thrilling 14-inning affair to go up two games-to-none in this best-of-five. For the Jays to survive, they were going to have to do the impossible: win both games in Arlington, Texas and force a Game Five back in Toronto.
Toronto outscored the Rangers 13-5 and won both games, and their decisive Game Five will also be played later today, with the winner advancing to the ALCS against either the Astros or Royals. If the Jays and Royals meet up, it will be a rematch of the 1985 ALCS, in which the Royals overcame a three games-to-one deficit to come all the way back to win the American League pennant. While all of your attention thus far in the postseason has been on the Cubs/Cardinals and Mets/Dodgers, don’t forget, two decisive Game Fives will be played tonight, and this is simply baseball at its finest.