KANSAS CITY (The Sports Xchange) — The Kansas City Royals are returning to the World Series for the second straight season after Lorenzo Cain scored from first base on a single on a gutsy call by third base coach Mike Jirschele.
Cain, who was running hard all the way, scored on Eric Hosmer’s single in the bottom of the eighth in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, and that was the difference as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Saturday night.
The Royals, who lost to the San Francisco Giants in seven games in the 2014 World Series, will play the New York Mets, beginning Tuesday at Kansas City.
“From the first day of spring training, we expected to be here,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Cain led off the inning with an eight-pitch walk from 20-year-old right-handed closer Roberto Osuna. Hosmer pulled a 2-2 pitch into right field. Jose Bautista threw to second base, instead of throwing the ball home.
“I had a feeling Bautista was going to come up and throw to second base,” Jirschele said. “He’s been doing it. As soon I saw him release the ball to second, I had Lorenzo coming in. I knew we were going to take a shot at it.
“I’m watching his setup and soon as I saw his release coming this way I just sent him. He was just coming into third, but he was coming full speed, so Lorenzo made the play. With Lorenzo running, it was going to take a perfect throw to second and a perfect throw to home and you’re going to take your chances on that.”
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s relay throw was up the line.
Hosmer said the hit ranks “right up there” as the biggest of his career.”
“It got us the run to send us to the World Series,” Hosmer said. “The story just keeps better and better. I can’t wait to be fighting on the big stage with these guys in a couple of days.”
Wade Davis gave up a single, a walk and allowed the Blue Jays to steal three bases in the ninth, but did not allow a run.
Catcher Russell Martin led off the inning with a single, his first hit in the series. Dalton Pompey ran for Martin and promptly stole second and third with none out.
Davis walked Kevin Pillar, who stole second. Davis recovered by striking out pinch hitter Dioner Navarro and Ben Revere. Then he got Josh Donaldson to ground out to end the game to pick up the victory.
“At that point, it was about as bad as it could get, a man on third with no outs,” Davis said. “I’m just hoping for some magic and get out of it.
“That was not a good situation. That’s exactly what my thoughts were. We just tried to make sure we got out of it and stayed strong.”
The Royals had to overcome two Bautista home runs.
Kansas City took a 3-1 lead into the eighth when Bautista homered with Ben Revere on base. Bautista, who hit 40 home runs in the regular season, yanked a Ryan Madson 96 mph fastball into the left field seats.
Bautista silenced the sold out Kauffman Stadium crowd of 40,494 that had been booing his every plate-appearance and catch in right field. He also homered in the fourth, becoming the first Blue Jay in franchise history with a multi-homer postseason game.
Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled with one out in the sixth after yielding a double to Edwin Encarnacion. Ventura allowed one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two. He threw 77 pitches, 51 for strikes.
Kelvin Herrera replaced Ventura and retired all five batters he faced, striking out two, before turning over a two-run lead to Madson in the eighth that he failed to keep for three hitters.
Moustakas led off the seventh with a splintered-bat single to center. Catcher Salvador Perez drove a David Price pitch to the left-field bullpen fence, but Ben Revere made a spectacular leaping grab to rob him of extra-bases. Moustakas advanced to third on left fielder Alex Gordon’s ground out.
Price did not finish the inning as rookie right-hander Aaron Sanchez was brought in to face Alex Rios with two out. Rios laced a single to left, scoring Moustakas.
Price, who was the losing pitcher in his first seven career postseason starts, got a no-decision this time, thanks to Bautista. He left after 6 2/3 innings, charged with three runs on five hits, two of them home runs in the first two innings.
“I didn’t pitch well enough to win,” Price said.
There was a 45-rain delay after the top of the eighth inning.
While the Blue Jays topped the majors with 232 home runs during the regular season, the Royals used the long ball to grab an early 2-0 lead.
Second baseman Ben Zobrist punched a David Price 91 mph cutter out to left on a 1-1 count in the first inning for his second home run in this ALCS.
In the second inning, Moustakas belted a Price changeup over the right-field fence. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons requested a review, though, claiming a fan in the first row reached over the wall. After a 107-second delay, the homer stood.
The Blue Jays flexed their muscles in the fourth with a Bautista solo home run. Bautista destroyed Ventura’s 96-mph fastball with a towering shot out to left. No review was necessary for that one, an estimated 428 feet.
The Blue Jays went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s not always what you don’t do,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “Sometimes it’s what the other guys are doing. They held us in check.”
NOTES: Royals SS Alcides Escobar, the ALCS MVP, on why he likes swinging at the first pitch: “Ninety-nine percent is a fastball right there in the strike zone.” … RHP Marco Estrada had a 2.33 ERA in three postseason starts. Only RHP Juan Guzman, a 1.71 ERA in three 1992 starts, has a lower ERA for the Blue Jays in a single postseason. … Royals manager Ned Yost now has 18 career postseason victories, passing Joe Maddon for sixth among active managers.