Oct 14, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals mascot holds up a W sign after defeating the Houston Astros in game five of the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The KC Royals showed they are the ultimate comeback kids of October after pulling off their second eighth-inning rally down by four runs to win an elimination game. The other 29 franchises have never achieved such a feat. The Kansas City Royals have done it in successive seasons.
As I Tweeted on Monday afternoon just after the Kansas City Royals rallied to take a 7-6 lead:
However, the Toronto Blue Jays are no easy mark. The Blue Jays became only the fourth team in major-league history to win a five-game series after losing the first two games. While the KC Royals now have more playoff experience than Toronto, neither team is going to panic when the pressure is on.
Indeed, after facing elimination due to a fluke play in which catcher Russell Martin hit Texas Rangers outfielder Shin Soo Choo with the return throw to his pitcher, you might say that the Blue Jays have stared down some post-season situations that the 2015 Royals haven’t faced.
Toronto (93-69), in fact, won four out of seven games played between the two teams this season; despite the Kansas City Royals (95-67) emerging with a two-game edge to win home field advantage in the American League playoffs. However, if we look at run differentials as a measure of relative team strength, the Blue Jays hold a massive +221 edge over their opponents compared to a mere +83 for Kansas City.
At this point, I don’t know how much run differentials mean in a short series. The +18 Texas Rangers pushed the Blue Jays to the brink of elimination before misplaying five straight batted balls in the seventh inning of Game 5. The Rangers did indeed lose to the Blue Jays, but it wasn’t due to a lack of talent.
While the series between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays will depend more on which players are running good over the next 10 days or so, if the series ends up being close—a number of the following factors might determine the outcome.
Next: Home Field Advantage