It’ll be the Kansas City Royals doing battle with the Toronto Blue Jays in this year’s American League Championship Series.
Johnny Cueto turned in a vintage-yet-surprising performance in Game 5 of the ALDS on Wednesday night in Kansas City, holding the visiting Astros to two runs over eight innings as the Royals marched to a 7-2 victory and advanced to the best-of-seven ALCS.
Cueto gave up a two-run homer to Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena in the top of the second inning but he was otherwise brilliant, whiffing eight, walking none, and retiring the final 19 batters he faced. This from a guy who posted a 4.76 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 81 1/3 innings after being acquired from the Reds in July. He also got bashed for four runs in six innings by the Astros three games earlier in the best-of-five Division Series.
Houston starter Collin McHugh looked strong in the early going on Wednesday, but Eric Hosmer drove in Lorenzo Cain in the bottom of the fourth inning when Carlos Gomez slipped in center field and Alex Rios smacked a go-ahead two-run double in the bottom of the fifth. Ben Zobrist then added the Royals’ fourth run on a sacrifice fly that scored Rios from third. Zobrist, a deadline acquisition like Cueto, also made a terrific tracking-back catch at second base in the top of the eighth.
Kansas City wasn’t done making bold statements yet, with Kendrys Morales adding three more runs on a towering blast against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel in the bottom of the eighth.
Cueto probably could have finished it off himself — he only needed 91 pitches to get through eight — but Royals manager Ned Yost turned to dominant right-hander Wade Davis in the top of the ninth and the newly-anointed closer retired all three batters he faced.
Our prediction for this upcoming ALCS: lots and lots of blue.
Astros starter Collin McHugh looked to be in complete control through the first three innings of Wednesday night’s ALDS Game 5 at Kauffman Stadium, but Eric Hosmer scored Lorenzo Cain from first base in the bottom of the fourth and the train got rolling again in the bottom of the fifth.
Here is Alex Rios‘ go-ahead fifth-inning two-run double that was preceded by a Salvador Perez hit-by-pitch and an Alex Gordon ground-rule shot that hopped up and over the wall in right-center …
That put Kansas City up 3-2 and then Ben Zobrist drove in Rios with a sac fly to make it 4-2. Kansas City is six outs away from a second straight trip to the American League Championship Series.
Jacob deGrom is starting for the Mets in Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday evening in Los Angeles and Noah Syndergaard will be available to piggyback deGrom if necessary. There might be another lethal right-hander stationed at the ready in the visitors bullpen at Dodger Stadium …
Mets manager Terry Collins said at his press conference Wednesday in Los Angeles that Matt Harvey told him he “wants to be available too” in Thursday’s loser-goes-home tilt. That word comes from Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, who adds that this discussion took place on the team plane from New York to LA.
Harvey was the subject of a very public — and sometimes very nasty — workload controversy over the final month of the regular season and he was to be limited to just one start in the Division Series. But the 26-year-old wants the ball with everything on the line.
If he’s not used Thursday and the Mets still advance, Harvey will likely make two starts in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series against the Cubs.
He allowed three runs — two earned — over five innings in his NLDS Game 3 win.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner made an early exit from Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday night at Citi Field with swelling in his troublesome left knee and catcher Yasmani Grandal has been unavailable since aggravating his nagging left shoulder issue in Game 3.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly addressed both of their statuses Wednesday on the eve of a decisive NLDS Game 5 back in Los Angeles. Via Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA …
Turner hit his fourth double of the series in Game 4, setting a new Dodgers franchise record for doubles in a Division Series. He is batting .467 with a 1.233 OPS so far in this best-of-five. Grandal is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts.
A.J. Ellis, who’s 2-for-7, seems likely to catch Game 5 starter Zack Greinke.
New York is throwing right-hander Jacob deGrom.
What were you doing when you were 20?
Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was finishing off the Rangers in a decisive ALDS Game 5 with the backing of a rabid home crowd of nearly 50,000 fans.
The rookie right-hander threw 1 2/3 perfect innings on Wednesday evening at Rogers Centre, striking out four of the five batters he faced to protect Toronto’s 6-3 lead. He put the cherry on top of the victory with this nasty 3-2 delivery to pinch-hitter Will Venable …
Osuna, a 20-year-old from Juan Jose Rios, Mexico, posted a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio across 69 2/3 innings during the regular season. And he’s now thrown 5 2/3 hitless and walkless innings in the postseason.
Toronto is headed to the American League Championship Series with a whole lot of mojo.