The Latest: Mets in World Series, Royals try to join them
The latest on the AL Championship Series. The Blue Jays won Game 5 to force the series back to Kansas City, where the Royals won 4-3 to return to the World Series for the second straight year. They will face the National League champion New York Mets in Game 1 on Tuesday in Kansas City. (all times local):
The Royals are headed back to the World Series for the second straight year.
After a 45-minute rain delay, Lorenzo Cain hustled to score from first base on Eric Hosmer's single in the eighth inning and the Royals held on for a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series.
Toronto threatened in the ninth. With closer Wade Davis pitching, Russell Martin led off with a single to center, and pinch-runner Dalton Pompey stole second base on the next pitch and later took third on a ball in the dirt. Kevin Pillar walked with no outs, but Davis got two strikeouts and then a groundout from MVP candidate Josh Donaldson to punch Kansas City's World Series ticket.
The Royals will host the Mets in Game 1 on Tuesday night.
The Blue Jays and Royals resumed Game 6 of their tense AL Championship Series after a 45-minute rain delay with the score 3-all in the bottom of the eighth inning.
It's the second rain delay Kansas City has endured this postseason, and the first didn't turn out well. Houston went on to win the opener of their divisional series.
Just minutes after Jose Bautista's two-run homer in the eighth inning knotted Game 6 of the AL Championship Series 3-all, a heavy rain began falling at Kauffman Stadium.
The game was delayed with Kansas City coming to bat in the bottom half.
The Royals were five outs away from a champagne shower and a return to the World Series when Bautista hit his second homer of the game to left field off Ryan Madson.
It's the first multihomer game for the Blue Jays in their postseason history.
Jose Bautista keeps hitting big home runs for the resilient Blue Jays.
Bautista lined a two-run homer to left field off Royals reliever Ryan Madson with one out in the eighth inning to tie Game 6 of this AL Championship Series 3-3.
It was Bautista's second homer of the game. He clobbered a solo shot off starter Yordano Ventura in the fourth.
Madson allowed the homer with closer Wade Davis warming in the bullpen.
Bautista's homer in the seventh inning of Game 5 in the division series helped Toronto hold off elimination and beat Texas.
The home run came after the Royals added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on Alex Rios' RBI single off Aaron Sanchez. The damage might have been worse for Toronto if not for left fielder Ben Revere's leaping grab at the wall on Salvador Perez's flyball and a diving stop at second base by Ryan Goins.
The Royals are three innings away from their second straight American League pennant.
Yordano Ventura lasted into the sixth and Kelvin Herrera stranded an inherited runner on second base to leave Kansas City with a 2-1 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6 of their AL Championship Series.
The big question now is whether the Blue Jays can rally against Kansas City's bullpen.
Herrera has been dynamic most of the postseason, and manager Ned Yost indicated he could use star closer Wade Davis for two innings if the game - and the series - was on the line.
The Royals' Yordano Ventura had retired 10 straight Blue Jays before Jose Bautista launched a solo shot over the bullpen in left field to get Toronto within 2-1 in the fourth inning.
Ventura was working from the stretch to keep in rhythm, and his approach appeared to be working. He threw 17 of his first 20 pitches for strikes, and had four strikeouts - all with a nasty curveball - over the first four innings.
The Royals had jumped to a 2-0 lead on homers by Ben Zobrist and Mike Moustakas.
The long ball by Moustakas, his first of this postseason, was snagged at the top of the right-field wall by Caleb Humphreys, a 19-year-old fan from Blue Springs, Missouri. The umpires reviewed the play but determined there was not enough evidence to rule fan interference.
As a result, the Royals kept the run. Humphreys kept the ball and got an interview with Erin Andrews on the national broadcast.
Ben Zobrist and Mike Moustakas staked the Royals to an early lead over Toronto on a pair of solo home runs in Game 6 of the ALCS, though there was some debate over the second of them.
Moustakas connected off Blue Jays ace David Price with one out in the second. The liner appeared to skim over the fence in right field, but a fan reached out and caught the ball before it hit the padding, prompting Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista to call for fan interference.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons asked for a review, and the original ruling of a home run was upheld after 1 minute, 47 seconds. Fox broadcasters reported the officials couldn't definitively overturn the home run based on the video.
Zobrist went deep off Price with one out in the first inning.
Yordano Ventura's first pitch to the Blue Jays' Ben Revere in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series came with clear skies and an unseasonably warm temperature of 70 degrees.
That could all change by the final pitch.
There was a better-than-50 percent chance of rain after 10 p.m., depending on the forecast, which would be about the time the game ends. It rained in the early morning hours Friday in Kansas City but was clear most of the day, allowing the field to dry out.
The Royals lost to Houston in the divisional round in a game delayed by rain.
The Blue Jays have won four straight elimination games, including three against Texas in the divisional round, to reach Game 6 of the AL Championship Series in Kansas City.
They'll need to win at least two more to keep their season alive.
Asked about his club's resilience, Toronto manager John Gibbons said before Friday's first pitch: ''They've looked and played and acted like they have all season long.''
Gibbons would rather avoid win-or-else games, but he also thinks his team embraces them.
''It's not ideal and it's not easy, but they've proven themselves and they really expect to win tonight,'' Gibbons said. ''I have not seen any change in their demeanor at all.''
The Blue Jays have Aaron Loup back in their bullpen for Game 6 of the AL Championship Series after he missed the previous two games due to a family emergency.
There is no bereavement list during the playoffs, which means Toronto had to play with 24 players in splitting those games with Kansas City. But the 27-year-old Loup made it to Kauffman Stadium in time to warm up before Friday night's game.
Loup has been the only lefty in the bullpen since Brett Cecil tore a calf muscle during the divisional round, one reason why Game 6 starter David Price has been moonlighting there.
Loup has allowed one run in two innings covering four appearance in the playoffs.
One of the curious story lines in the AL Championship Series has been the penchant of Royals leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar to swing at the first pitch.
Before facing Toronto in Game 6 on Friday, Escobar offered a simple reason why.
''That's 99 percent (of the time) a fastball right there in the strike zone,'' he said.
If the Royals wrap up their second straight trip to the World Series, there's a good chance Escobar could be the ALCS MVP. He's hitting .400 in the series, and has already become the first player in postseason history to open each of the first four games with a hit.
Then there's his defense: He makes even the toughest plays at shortstop look routine.
As for the first pitch, Escobar is surprised that he keeps getting strikes to hit.
''That surprises me right there because everybody knows I swing at the first pitch,'' Escobar said, ''and they keep throwing a strike. If they are going to keep throwing a first-pitch strike, I'm going to keep swinging at it.''
The Royals are sending Yordano Ventura to the mound trying to clinch their second straight AL pennant, and manager Ned Yost will be keeping a close eye on his secondary pitches.
If Ventura is locating his curveball, Yost thinks the Royals are in good shape.
''What makes it all work is commanding his curveball, commanding his change-up and if he's able to control the throttle on that, it makes his fastball that much better,'' Yost said before the Royals took on the Blue Jays in Game 6 at Kauffman Stadium.
Yost conceded that Ventura has been merely ''OK'' this postseason. He allowed three runs on eight hits in 5 1-3 innings in Game 2, a game the Royals rallied to win after Blue Jays Game 6 starter David Price faltered in the seventh inning.