MLB Playoffs Week 3: Mets, Royals Surging Towards Fall Classic


Frank Wilton, Staff Writer

The Texas Rangers held a 2-0 series lead after winning their first set of games in Toronto against the Blue Jays, and needed to take one of the next to in Arlington to play for the American League Pennant.  That’s where everything went wrong.

In Game 3,  Texas sent out left hander Martin Perez against surprise Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada.  Both pitchers threw well, but a Troy Tulowitzki three run home run put the Blue Jays on top for good in the sixth inning, and the Jays won 5-1.

Game 4 was the next day, and the Rangers still needed just one win to advance.  Unfortunately, Texas lefty Derek Holland surrendered home runs to Josh Donaldson, Kevin Pillar, and Chris Colabello in the first inning.  Despite an eighth inning rally by Texas, the Blue Jays prevailed 8-4; and took the series back to the Rogers Centre for a winner-take-all Game 5.

In Game 5, the Blue Jays sent righty Marcus Stroman to the mound to oppose Texas lefty Cole Hamels.  Texas jumped out to an early 2-0 by the top of the third, but the Blue Jays got runs in the bottom of the third and the bottom of the sixth and took the lead on home runs by Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista and won 6-3.  The loss for the Rangers is the latest installment in a series of recent postseason collapses, including two World Series losses in 2010 and 2011.

The other Texas team, the Houston Astros, were locked in an intense battle with the reigning AL Champs, the Kansas City Royals, in the ALDS bout.  With the series tied 2-2, the Astros held a 6-2 lead heading into the eighth inning of the fifth game.  Then, the wheels came off, and the Astros imploded. Their bullpen allowed three runs in the top of the eight and two more in the ninth. The Royals pen held strong, securing a 9-6 victory and a second consecutive berth in the ALCS.

In Game 1 of the Royals-Blue Jays series, Toronto sent Estrada to the mound to oppose Royals’ starter Edinson Volquez.  Volquez was masterful, shutting out the Blue Jays powerful lineup and throwing the hardest fastballs of his career.  Aided by a home run by catcher Salvador Perez, the Royals won 5-0.

Game 2 rolled around, and Toronto ace David Price took the mound and dominated the Royals through six innings, but the Royals strung five hits together, including an RBI single by 1B Eric Hosmer and two run single by 3B Mike Moustakas and won 6-3.

Game 3 took place in Toronto with the home team reeling.  Their top four hitters had accumulated only 4 hits through the first two ballgames, and they faced KC ace Johnny Cueto.  Potentially inspired by the home crowd, the Blue Jays got early home runs from 2B Ryan Goins, SS Troy Tulowitzki, and 3B Josh Donaldson. Despite the Blue Jays bullpen allowing four late runs, they took Game 3 by a final of 11-8.  The series resumes on the 20th in Toronto with RA Dickey on the mound for Toronto and 6’11’’ righty Chris Young pitching for Kansas City.

The winner of that series will play the winner of the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets.  The Mets and Cubs got under way Saturday at Citi Field in Queens.  It was a brisk evening, temperatures touching the 30s, but it didn’t phase the Mets.   Daniel Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud hit home runs of Jon Lester, both through a knifing wind. Matt Harvey pitched one of the best games of his career, and the Mets surged to a 4-2 victory.

In Game 2, the Mets sent rookie righty Noah Syndergaard to the mound against NL Cy Young favorite Jake Arrieta of the Cubs.  In an astounding turn of events, Daniel Murphy hit a homerun in his fourth straight game, and, along with a David Wright RBI double, the Mets jumped out to a 3-0 lead.  They tacked on another in the third inning on a Yoenis Cespedes single, and they held on for a 4-1 victory.  

Though the MLB Playoffs are winding down, the excitement is ratcheting up every day.  Games can be seen on TBS and FOX every night and on the airwaves on ESPN Radio and 710 WOR.