By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
After compelling Wild Card games and Divisional Championships, the League Championships and World Series did not disappoint to entertain fans either.
On the American League side, the Kansas City Royals outhit the powerful lineup of the Toronto Blue Jays. In six games, the Royals scored a combined 38 runs to take the series 4-2 to put the Royals back in the World Series for the second consecutive year.
The National League was a battle between two unfamiliar faces to the postseason. The Chicago Cubs had not been to the postseason since 2008 and had not seen the NLCS since the infamous Steve Bartman game in 2003.
The New York Mets made its first postseason appearance since 2006 and only their fifth overall postseason appearance since it won the 1986 World Series.
This series was decided not by the sluggers, but by the Mets dominant young pitching staff. Mets pitchers gave up a total of eight runs in four games as they swept the Cubs right out of the batter’s box. However, the bats were not all quiet. Mets second basemen Daniel Murphy continued his hot streak and belted six home runs in six straight games to beat the previous record of five.
This set up a matchup of two teams looking for their first World Series Championship since the mid 80s.
Since the American League won the All-Star game back in July at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Royals received home field advantage.
In game one, the Royals and Mets would go back and forth trading runs, but neither pulling away. With the game tied at three in the eighth inning, Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores reached on an error by Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer, allowing outfielder Juan Lagares to score and put the Mets up 4-3.
But in the bottom of the ninth, outfielder Alex Gordon tied the game on an bomb that cleared the centerfield wall, tying the game at four.
It would not be until the fourteenth inning until the Royals broke through. They loaded the bases for Hosmer and he redeemed his eighth inning error by hitting a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in shortstop Alcides Escobar for the winning run.
In game two, Royals pitcher Johnny Cueto shut down the Mets bats. Cueto pitched a complete game, only allowing one run on two hits, both bloop singles by Mets first basemen Lucas Duda. Cueto became the first A.L. pitcher since 1991 to throw a complete game.
Mets rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom could not continue his dominance and gave up four earned runs in five innings of work. The problem all night for deGrom was that he could not finish off the Royals hitters with two strikes, something the Royals have struggled with all year.
The game three hero was none other than Mr. Met himself, David Wright. The third basemen homered in the first inning off Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura to give the Mets a 2-1 advantage. Later in the sixth, Wright singled up the middle driving in two more runs to give the Mets a commanding 8-3 lead.
The second of the trio of Mets rookie starting pitchers, Noah Syndergaard, earned the win going six innings while striking out six and giving up three runs. The bullpen combination of Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia chilled the Royals bats to give the Mets a game three win.
Game four once again showed the late heroics that the Royals have patented this postseason. Down 3-2 in the eighth inning, Hosmer took advantage of an error committed by Murphy which drove in second basemen Ben Zobrist who doubled to tie the game. Then, third basemen Mike Moustakas singled up the middle to score outfielder Lorenzo Cain to take the lead. To round out the inning, catcher Salvador Perez singled in Moustakas to give the Royals a 5-3 lead.
The Royals bullpen continued their dominance as Ryan Madson got the win and premier closer Wade Davis got the save.
Game five was very similar to game one: dominant early pitching and yet more free baseball. The Mets set the tone early by scoring one run in the first and then adding to that in the sixth with one more run. Mets ace Matt Harvey pitched a phenomenal game up until the ninth. With turmoil in the dugout between Harvey and his coaches deciding whether or not he should go back for the ninth, this put added pressure on the young right hander.
To leadoff the inning, Cain walked and immediately stole second to put him in scoring position. On the second pitch to Hosmer, the Royal doubled to score Cain and reduce the deficit to one run. Hosmer would go on to score on a soft ground ball to Wright, who threw to first and Hosmer immediately took off for home. Hosmer’s aggressiveness pressured Duda to make an errant throw home allowing Hosmer to tie the game.
In the twelfth, the Royals once again pieced together singles and doubles to put a five spot on the board. And even with a five run lead, Royals manager Ned Yost elected to go to his best arm: his closer, Davis. He shut the door in dominant fashion striking out the side to give the Royals their second World Series ring.