On this date in 2015, the Kansas City Royals hosted Toronto in Game 6 of the ALCS. What unfolded next became one of the greatest games in franchise history. Here’s a look back at the thrilling win.
(Editor’s note: This is one of several on-this-date posts that KoK will publish throughout the 2017 postseason. They will highlight the postseason success of the Kansas City Royals over the years with particular emphasis given to 2014 and 2015—given the strong ties to the current squad.)
Some baseball games don’t become classics until the final pitch. Others are thrilling from start to finish with no shortage of drama in between. Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays certainly falls into the latter category.
The Royals entered the contest with a chance to eliminate the Blue Jays and reach a second consecutive World Series. Having lost a Game 7 at home the previous year, Kansas City didn’t want to face a winner-take-all scenario again.
How it Happened
The Boys in Blue looked well on their way to avoiding that situation after hitting one-out solo home runs in each of the first two innings against Toronto starter David Price. Ben Zobrist took the left-hander deep in the first inning, and Mike Moustakas went yard the next frame for a 2-0 lead. Zobrist’s blast easily cleared the fence in the left-field corner, but Moose’s shot wasn’t without controversy.
Here’s a look back at the hit and subsequent review:
After being upheld, the Blue Jays still trailed 2-0. That is until Jose Bautista cranked a solo home run of his own off Yordano Ventura in the fourth inning. Ventura, though, held the lead until exiting after a double from Edwin Encarnacion with one out in the sixth. Kelvin Herrera retired the next two hitters to escape the jam.
After the early struggles, Price settled down and made it through 6 2/3 innings. He left with Moustakas on second base and Alex Rios coming to the plate. One of the unsung heroes during the 2015 postseason, Rios singled home a key insurance run off Aaron Sanchez for a 3-1 lead. It proved massively important in the top of the eighth.
That’s when Bautista went deep again. Ben Revere had singled to start the inning against Ryan Madson. After a strikeout, Bautista hit his second homer of the night to pull the Blue Jays even. A walk to Encarnacion ended Madson’s night and forced Ned Yost to send Wade Davis in earlier than he would’ve liked.
Rain had already started falling at Kauffman Stadium. A weather delay seemed imminent, but Yost couldn’t risk letting Toronto take the lead. Davis came through, although the tarp did come out prior to the bottom of the eighth inning.
Kansas City Royals Respond
As soon as the rain delay occurred, this game was destined to be one of the greatest postseason games in Kansas City Royals history. Everything that happened afterward cemented its status as a top-five playoff game for a franchise that has had plenty of classics, despite a relatively small number of postseason trips.
Once the game restarted, the Kansas City Royals took no time in regaining the lead against Toronto closer Roberto Osuna. Unlike the Kansas City closer, Davis, Osuna hadn’t entered the game before the rain delay. He still looked rusty, as Lorenzo Cain walked to open the frame. Eric Hosmer followed with a single down the right-field line.
Without advanced scouting, Cain would’ve been held at third, especially with nobody out. But the Royals knew Bautista had a tendency to throw directly to second base on plays like this one, leading to this cathartic moment:
Kansas City threatened to add to the lead, but Osuna coaxed a huge double-play ball to escape the jam. It set the stage for a chaotic ninth inning, as Davis came back after an hour-long wait between pitches. Things didn’t start well for the right-hander, who had put together one of the best pitching seasons in Royals history.
Davis Becomes a Legend
Russell Martin opened the inning with a single. Pinch-runner Dalton Pompey stole second and third with Kevin Pillar at the plate to put the tying run 90 feet away. Pillar eventually walked. He stole second as Dioner Navarro struck out.
With a base open, the Kansas City Royals could have elected to walk Revere to set up the possibility of a double play. However, that would bring up Josh Donaldson, who would go on to win AL MVP after the season, with the bases loaded. Davis stepped up with a big-time strikeout of Revere.
Donaldson had the chance to play hero with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. On a 2-1 pitch, Davis got Donaldson out in front to pull the ball to Moustakas. And the rest is history:
The moment easily ranks among the best for the Kansas City Royals in their 2015 postseason run. It was a fitting cap to a thrilling game. And the fact Donaldson featured prominently in another heartbreaking loss at The K, brings the two World Series runs full circle.
There were plenty of incredible games during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. But Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS will always be right near the top.