2015 AL Division Series Wrap-Up

One week ago I wrote my article previewing this season’s ALDS series and made my official predictions as to who would win each of the matchups (that article can be read HERE). Last night, the 2015 ALDS concluded with a pair of highly entertaining Game 5’s, and now it’s time to go back and look at how my predictions fared and what went wrong and right over the course of each 5-game set. I’m going to keep the game commentary to a minimum and only talk about the crucial individual moments of each series (you can examine each series game-by-game in-depth with box scores and play-by-play on Baseball-Reference.com by following links I’ve provided at the end of each section). Let’s get started, as we did in the preview, with the Texas/Toronto series.

Texas Rangers (88-74) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (93-69)

Toronto wins series 3-2

This series looked like it was squarely in the hands of the Texas Rangers after taking the first two games on the road at the Rogers Centre by scores of 5-3 and 6-4. I was questioning myself a bit over the weekend, wondering how the Blue Jays’ bats weren’t tearing apart the Rangers’ weak pitching staff. In fact, the Rangers’ hurlers looked quite sharp through the first two games of the series, allowing 7 runs and only 14 hits over 23 innings of work (thanks to a 14-inning game 2). Despite losing Adrian Beltre after a single at-bat in Game 1 and not getting him back until Game 5, the Rangers’ offense held its own against the best collection of hitters in the MLB. However, once the series shifted back to Texas for Games 3 and 4, the Texas offense was outmatched and the pitchers seemed more vulnerable than they were before. Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays’ offense hit some well-timed home runs as well. In the sixth inning of Game 3 in Texas, Troy Tulowitzki took Rangers reliever Chi Chi Gonzalez deep for a 3-run homer, after Gonzalez had retired two in a row to nearly escape a jam starter Martin Perez had made. This homer escalated the Jays’ lead to five runs, squashing any hopes of a Texas comeback. The Jays also hit three dingers in Game 4, all before the second inning ended – one each off the bats of Josh Donaldson (2-run), Chris Colabello (solo) and Kevin Pillar (solo). Then, in last night’s contest, Jose Bautista stepped up with two on and two out and the score tied at 3-3 (following three Texas errors and a Rougned Odor misplay already in the inning) and unloaded a monster shot to left field, which was followed by perhaps an even more monstrous bat flip. This homer made the score 6-3, which held until the final out, and the Jays clinched the series in dramatic fashion. At the top of the order, Ben Revere quietly paced the Jays offense with seven hits and a pair of stolen bases, while avoiding even a single strikeout over all five games. Marcus Stroman and Cole Hamels had two great matchups in Games 2 and 5, each working more than 13 innings total, allowing only five and four earned runs respectively. Additionally, a trio of young Toronto pitchers – Marco Estrada, Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez – all looked sharp in their outings, combining to allow eight hits, one walk, and two runs (one earned) against 16 strikeouts over 17.1 innings pitched. Osuna was especially good, appearing in all but one of the games in the series and allowing no hits, walks or runs while striking out six in 5.2 innings.

Original Prediction: Blue Jays in 4

Result: Blue Jays in 5

Full series statistics, box scores, play-by-play, etc.

 

Houston Astros (86-76) vs. Kansas City Royals (95-67)

Kansas City wins series 3-2

This series went in a bit of a different direction – instead of one team jumping out to a big 2-0 lead, the teams traded games until the decisive Game 5 – but was just as exciting, dramatic, and wild. Game 1 saw Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura last only two innings, while Houston starter Collin McHugh worked six innings, blemished only by a pair of Kendrys Morales solo homers, as the game ended with a 5-2 Houston victory. Game 2 went the other way, and while Houston jumped out to an early lead against Johnny Cueto, Kansas City got the best of the Houston bullpen and took the contest by a score of 5-4. Dallas Keuchel wasn’t as dominant as usual in Game 3 but worked into the eighth inning and allowed only one run, on a Lorenzo Cain homer leading off the fourth. The Astros offense scratched across 4 runs, punctuated by a deep homer from Chris Carter and the Astros had a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 – and the series with it – looked to be in the Astros’ hands after a three-run 7th gave them a 6-2 lead. Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Astros bullpen imploded in the half inning that followed, giving up five runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth, creating the 9-6 final score and sending the series back to Kansas City for Game 5. Last night’s game, though, was all about Johnny Cueto. The Kansas City righty allowed a pair of hits (including a Luis Valbuena two-out, two-run home run) in the second inning, then retired the next 19 batters he faced to finish his eight innings of work. Cueto racked up eight strikeouts on just 91 pitches to clinch the series for the Royals. The Royals’ offense was paced by Ben Zobrist, who hit .333 (6-for-18) with a game-winning RBI in Game 2 and the power was provided by Morales and Salvador Perez, who hit three and two home runs apiece while combining to knock in ten runs. Alex Rios, in his first ever postseason appearance (12 seasons in MLB), hit a pair of doubles, walked three times, and scored three runs for the Royals as well. The Royals defense did not make an error in the series, and the bullpen was quite good. The Royals’ top three of Wade Davis, Chris Young and Kelvin Herrera combining to allow six hits, five walks, and two runs (both earned) over 11 innings, while picking up 18 strikeouts. Despite his rough Game 4, Ryan Madson managed to pick up seven whiffs in 3 innings (3 games). Houston was led on offense by the hot bats of Colby Rasmus (3 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB, .429/.600/1.143) and Carlos Correa (2 HR, 4 RBI, .350/.381/.700), and received a great start in Game 4 from rookie Lance McCullers, who worked 6.1 innings and allowed only two hits and two walks while ringing up 7 Royals (before the bullpen promply imploded, leaving McCullers’ stellar performance as a mere afterthought).

Original Prediction: Royals in 5

Result: Royals in 5

Full series statistic, box scores, play-by-play, etc.

 

There you have it guys! Pretty satisfied with being 2 for 2 on predicting the winning teams here, and if the Jays’ bats had helped out in Game 2 I might’ve nailed exactly how many games each series would’ve taken too. Tune back in tomorrow for my NLDS wrap-up AND ALCS preview! Tonight on TBS we have Game 5 of the Dodgers-Mets series at 8PM featuring an exciting pitching matchup between Jacob deGrom and Zack Greinke. I have the Dodgers taking this one home tonight, but deGrom bested the Dodgers in Game 1, and you never know what’ll happen when two aces square off. Who do you guys think is going to win?

Thanks for voting, and enjoy the game!

 

Credit for statistics goes to Baseball-Reference.com. Obviously.

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