The Associated Press

Royals jump out to 2-0 ALCS lead with 6-3 victory over the Blue Jays

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The never-say-die Royals hung a five-spot on the Blue Jays in a laborious bottom of the seventh inning, providing all of the offense they would need to come back and win in Game 2 of the ALCS. The Royals will travel to Toronto to continue the ALCS with a 2-0 lead.

The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the top of the third inning when Ryan Goins brought in a run with a double to left field off of Royals starter Yodano Ventura. The Jays tacked on two more in the sixth on an Edwin Encarnacion RBI single and a Troy Tulowitzki RBI double. Ventura was chased with one out in the sixth, finishing having allowed the three runs on eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts.

Jays starter David Price was dominating over his first six innings. He allowed a single to Alcides Escobar to lead off the bottom of the first, but then retired the next 18 batters he faced to set a Blue Jays post-season record. However, leading off the bottom of the seventh, the Royals benefited from a miscommunication between second baseman Goins and right fielder Jose Bautista, allowing a Ben Zobrist pop-up to land. The Royals would add three more singles and a double to score four runs and chase Price from the game with two outs in the sixth. Reliever Aaron Sanchez allowed another RBI single before completing the frame. Price, over 6 2/3 innings, was on the hook for five runs on six hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.

Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera worked around a one-out Chris Colabello double, recording two strikeouts in a scoreless eighth inning. Moustakas added more insurance with an RBI single to right field in the bottom of the eighth to make it 6-3.

In the ninth, closer Wade Davis allowed a single and a walk to lead off the inning, but he struck out Ben Revere and Josh Donaldson before Jose Bautista flied out to right field to end the game. The Royals are two games away from advancing to the World Series for a second year in a row.

The two clubs will have an off-day on Sunday. The ALCS resumes at 7:00 PM EDT on Monday for Game 3 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, with Johnny Cueto starting for the Royals against Marcus Stroman for the Blue Jays.

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
Bernstein Associates/Getty Images
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John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.