KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - The Kansas City Royals advanced to the World Series for a second straight year after some daring base-running helped them beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 in Game Six of the American League Championship Series on Friday.
Lorenzo Cain scored from first base on a single down the right field line by Eric Hosmer with no outs in the bottom of the eighth to snap a 3-3 tie and set up a ‘Fall Classic’ against National League champions the New York Mets.
The best-of-seven Major League Baseball championship series will begin on Tuesday in Kansas City.
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar was named most valuable player of the series after batting .478 (11-for-23), scoring six runs, driving in five and playing sterling defense.
While Cain made a mad dash around the Kauffman Stadium bases, Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista pirouetted after reaching the ball and fired toward second to keep Hosmer at first, not thinking Cain would try to race home on the play.
Toronto threatened in the ninth with similar aggression on the basepaths as pinch-runner Dalton Pompey stole second and third with no one out and Kevin Pillar walked to put men on first and third with Royals closer Wade Davis on the mound.
“It got pretty bad there, pretty quick,” said Davis, who came into the game at the top of the eighth and waited an hour to return to the mound for the ninth because of a rain delay.
“I kept telling myself, ‘We can get out of it, keep making pitches, just get this win for the team.'”
Davis struck out pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro and Ben Revere before getting Josh Donaldson to ground out to third to secure a 4-2 series triumph with a nail-biting victory that unleashed wild celebrations on the diamond.
Kansas City had led 3-1, aided by a controversial home run for Mike Moustakas in the second inning, going into the top of the eighth when Bautista belted a two-run blast off reliever Ryan Madson to tie the game.
Bautista also supplied the first run of the game for Toronto with a towering home run in the fourth inning to halve a then 2-0 Kansas City lead.
Rain forced a delay of some 40 minutes before the bottom of the eighth and Cain’s dash to the plate for the winning margin.
Cain said he just kept on going after seeing third base coach Mike Jirschele windmilling his arm to send him home.
“I‘m struggling to get to third and I saw Jirschele signal me,” said Cain. “Now we’re going back to the World Series. Couldn’t get any better than this.”
Kansas City will be trying for their first World Series title in 30 years, while the Mets seek their first Fall Classic crown in 29 years after most recently losing to their cross-town rival Yankees in the Subway Series of 2000.
“Last year at this time we were so excited to be here,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “This year, from the first day of spring training we expected to be here.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons gave credit to Kansas City, the AL Central winners who earned top seeding with the league’s best regular season record.
”I want to congratulate the Kansas City Royals for a wonderful year,“ said Gibbons. ”They set the tone last year and they had a fantastic year this year.
“They are going to be a heck of a representative for the American League, that’s for sure.”
Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by John O'Brien/Peter Rutherford