LEADING OFF: Cespedes exits, ALCS travels to Kansas City
A look at what's happening around the major leagues today:
DAY OF REST
With the Mets clinching a World Series berth behind an NL Championship Series sweep of the Cubs Wednesday night, the postseason schedule gets an all-around off day while the AL Championship Series participants travel. Kansas City will host Toronto in Game 6 on Friday after the Blue Jays won 7-1 on Wednesday to stave off elimination.
It's all gone right for Daniel Murphy this postseason. New York's second baseman homered in a postseason-record sixth straight game Wednesday, then was named NL Championship Series MVP. Murphy has seven homers in these playoffs for the World Series-bound Mets after homering 14 times during the regular season. His postseason resume includes shots off aces Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.
YO, WHAT'S UP?
The Mets are hoping for a quick bounce back for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who exited Game 4 of the NLCS with a sore left shoulder. Cespedes walked and scored on Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the first inning then struck out looking in the second before being replaced by Juan Lagares. He was hitting .273 with two homers and seven RBIs in the postseason before Wednesday.
RISE OF TROY
Troy Tulowitzki entered this fall as a career .211 hitter in the postseason and then struggled offensively early in these playoffs while coming back from a cracked scapula. Over the past four games, though, he's emerged as an ALCS MVP candidate. Tulowitzki is 7 for 15 with a homer and two doubles in that span, including a three-run double in a 7-1 Game 5 win on Wednesday.
The Blue Jays haven't won many close games this postseason, but 20-year-old closer Roberto Osuna has been outstanding. The Mexican reliever jumped from the Class A to the majors this year and seamlessly emerged as the club's closer around midseason. He has a 1.23 ERA in 7 1-3 innings this postseason, including a perfect inning in Game 5.
Kansas City got its only run in Game 5 on a homer from catcher Salvador Perez, who has thrived this postseason under fresher legs. It was Perez's fourth homer in 10 games in these playoffs after he hit just one homer in 15 postseason games last year. Kansas City ran the three-time All-Star hard down the stretch last year, but made it a point to limit the backstop's use this year to keep him fresh for October. He still led the majors with 1,192 1-3 innings caught, but that's more than 50 fewer innings than he received in 2014.