By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
The 2015 MLB Postseason is here. So far it has been a showing of dominant pitching performances, the long ball, fantastic rookie performances and late inning drama; just the right formula for another instant fall classic.
The American League Wild Card game opened postseason play with the Houston Astros shutting out the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium by a score of 3-0.
Dallas Keuchel outdueled Masahiro Tanaka by throwing six innings of shutout baseball while striking out seven batters. Outfielders Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez both hit solo home runs early in the game to give the Astros the upper hand.
On the National League side, the Wild Card was decided between two N.L. Central foes: the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. It was another battle of aces, Jake Arrieta of the Cubs and Gerrit Cole of the Pirates.
Arrieta and the Cubs offense would prove to be too much for the Pirates on this night winning by a score of 4-0. Arrieta pitched a complete game shutout, striking out 11 Pirates in overpowering fashion. Right fielder Kyle Schwarber ignited the Cubs offense with three RBI on the night, including a towering two-run homer in the third that left PNC Park.
This set up the intriguing Division Series: Houston vs. Kansas City and Toronto vs. Texas on the A.L. side, with Chicago going up against St. Louis and New York battling Los Angeles on the N.L. side.
The Houston and Kansas City series was back and forth throughout. Early on it looked like Houston might take the series when they stunned the Royals by winning the first game in Kansas City 5-2. But the Royals magic was not gone.
In game four, the Royals were down 6-2 in the top of the eighth. They would go on to score five in the eighth and two in the ninth to win by a score of 9-6. The Royals would return home for game five and win 7-2 to eliminate the Astros.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers series was a wild ride as well. Texas stole the first two games from Toronto on their home turf. But the Blue Jays would return the favor by winning games three and four in Texas. It would come down to a decisive game five in Toronto.
Texas’sin-season acquisition Cole Hamels couldn’t prevail as the Blue Jays shocked the Rangers by winning game five 6-3. The Blue Jays became the third team in Major League history to win a division series after being down 0-2 and losing those games at home.
With the exception of game three, the Mets and Dodgers series was full of dominant pitching. Behind the three-headed monster known as Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets pitching was too much for the Dodgers’ bats. The triad combined to pitch 25.1 innings while only giving up seven earned runs.
Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes helped power the Mets offense by smacking a combined five home runs in the series. Murphy hit what proved to be the series clinching home run in the sixth off Dodgers ace Zack Greinke in game five.
With limited action due to injury to Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t have enough in the tank to stop the division rival Chicago Cubs from clinching their first Division Series win since 2003. It was also the first time the Cubs clinched a playoff series victory at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have been playing at Wrigley Field since 1916.
The stage is set for yet another unpredictable League Championship Series. The Kansas City Royals will battle the Toronto Blue Jays while the Chicago Cubs square off against the New York Mets for the right to play in the World Series.
I predict that the Kansas City Royals will beat the Blue Jays in six games. The Royals pitching is strong enough to stop this year’s most prolific offense.
On the other side, I think the Mets will prevail behind their young and dominate pitching staff. The Cubs have scored 73 percent of their runs via the home run this Postseason. A trend that is hard to rely throughout the duration of the Playoffs.
That leaves us with a Mets-Royals World Series. The inexperience of the Mets along with their weaker lineup will prove to be the difference maker. The Royals win their first World Series since 1985.