The Kansas City Royals went to the World Series in 2014 and are officially back for 2015 with their 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
Ben Zobrist kicked things off for the Royals with a home run to left field in the first inning, making it a 1-0 lead for the home team. Zobrist finished the game 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk to increase his ALCS slash line to .320/.370/.680 against the Blue Jays.
While he was dominant, the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player was Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. He finished the series 11-for-23 (.478) with a triple, two doubles and five RBI.
The second run in as many innings came off the bat of Mike Moustakas, who found the right field seats to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. The home run would be reviewed as it looked like a fan reached over the wall and caught it, but upon further review the home run would stand as there wasn't enough evidence.
Moose finished the ALCS with a .208 batting average, but made the big hits when it mattered most for Kansas City.
"The made a run at it," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "I really couldn't be more proud of our guys. They laid it out every day, they're great competitors and a fun bunch, fun to be around every day."
Toronto found the board for the first time of the night in the fourth as Jose Bautista delivered a moon shot to left field to cut the Kansas City lead to one run.
Starting the game for the Royals was Yordano Ventura. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up just one run on four hits and two walks over 5.1 innings pitched.
Alex Rios turned the game back into a two run lead for the Royals with an RBI single to left scoring Moustakas in the seventh inning.
Left-handed pitcher David Price threw 6.2 innings on Friday and was dominant after giving up the early home runs to Zobrist and Moustakas. Price, who was acquired from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline, gave up three runs on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts.
To end the bottom of the seventh inning, Ben Revere made a huge leaping catch near the wall to save the Royals from an extra base hit. The catch gave the Blue Jays needed momentum.
The momentum carried over to the offensive end as Bautista hit a two-run home run to left, which scored Revere and tied the game 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning.
Leading up to the Bautista home run, it was a curious decision by Royals manager Ned Yost not to go to the bullpen and bring in closer Wade Davis. He stuck with Ryan Madson who would make a mistake up in the zone and 'Joey Bats' made him pay.
Plating the pennant-winning run was Eric Hosmer, who singled to deep right off Jays closer Roberto Osuna, which scored Lorenzo Cain from first base as Bautista would make the throw to second base to keep Hosmer from advancing to second. Osuna, 20, took the loss in the biggest game of his short career.
"I was hustling all the way," Cain said. "I don't know what happened I just kept going."
Wade Davis finished out the eighth inning and pitched the ninth inning after an hour long rain delay. It wasn't easy for the All-Star as the Blue Jays would get a leadoff single from Russell Martin, and then Dalton Pompey would pinch run and steal second and third base in the inning. With runners at first and third nobody out, Davis would get back-to-back strikeouts and then get Josh Donaldson to ground out to third for the final out, pushing the Royals to their second consecutive trip to the World Series.
"We came in with one goal and that was to get back to the World Series. It can't be any better than this," Cain said.
In 2014, Kansas City lost the World Series in Game 7 against the San Francisco Giants. The Royals will try and win the series for the first time since 1985 against the New York Mets.