Dalton Pompey – standing at third base – with nobody out. That phrase will haunt Blue Jays fans for years to come.
Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Blue Jays’ elimination from the 2015 playoffs at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. In case you forgot (or like me, you blocked that game out of your memory), the Royals won Game 6 of the ALCS 4-3 and advanced to the World Series.
I’m not sure if there’s a way to simulate that game situation, but how often would the Blue Jays at least tie that game with a runner on third base and nobody out in the top of the ninth inning? We’ll always wonder how Game 6 could have played out differently.
In the meantime, since we’re masochists around here, why not relive the trauma of that Game 6 loss? If you’d like to subject yourself to the pain of Game 6, go nuts … but here are all the highlights.
This is off to a great start for the Blue Jays. Ben Revere reaches base as the first batter of the game with a leadoff double. This hit accounted for one of seven hits by the Blue Jays, and Revere himself contributed two hits in this game.
The Royals strike first in the bottom of the first courtesy of a solo home run by Ben Zobrist. David Price looks strangely ecstatic about this development.
This was the home run from hell for Blue Jays fans. Everyone remembers the home run by Mike Moustakas which narrowly scraped over the right field fence … if not for the help of Mose Schrute in the stands.
Despite the inconclusive angles, it was ruled a home run on the field, and according to Joe Buck: “the replay official could not definitively overturn the call on the field.”
To pour salt into the wounds, Erin Andrews went into the stands and interviewed Jebediah himself and they did a dramatic reenactment of the catch, just to prove they were being good boys.
Yeah, nice try, kid.
That’s the face Salvador Perez after Kevin Pillar missed a home right to left field by mere feet.
Jose Bautista came to the plate later in the inning and destroyed a high fastball from Yordano Ventura. Statcast measured Bautista’s home run at 428 feet long.
Later in the inning, apparently Ventura got upset at Troy Tulowitzki for a late time call. After the inning, Ventura stared down Tulo, even though Tulowitzki didn’t even have eyes on the Royals starter.
In the fourth inning, the Blue Jays and Royals are at it again, but this time, it’s one of the most unlikely beefs on the field. First base coach Tim Leiper chirps Ventura as he runs onto the field.
Leiper the best.
The Blue Jays start the inning with back-to-back walks and it looks like they’re about to get something going with Ryan Goins at the plate. On a 0-1 count, he tries to lay down a bunt down the third base line, but it goes foul.
He flew out to centre field, Revere flew out and then Josh Donaldson scorched a ball to third base, but Mike Moustakas came up with the catch.
— #Statcast (@statcast) October 24, 2015
According to Statcast, this ball was the highest exit velocity from Donaldson the entire 2015 season. And it ended up in Moustakas’ glove.
The Royals come to the plate and Alex Rios steals second base, but the Blue Jays challenge the call. The funny thing is he came off the bag, so if Goins keeps the tag on Rios, he’s probably out. But Goins just swiped and walked away. Rios is ruled safe.
Considering the gravity of the situation, this was a tremendous game-saving catch by Ben Revere. He takes face plant into the fence and cuts his arm on this play. After making this grab, he had the wherewithal to get the ball back to the infield and nearly doubled up Moustakas at first base.
If only Chris Colabello hung onto the ball. For a few seconds, Colabello was convinced he had the out, but the umpire and Moustakas had to point out the obvious.
Until this point in the game, David Price walked the tightrope, but somehow kept the Royals at bay. John Gibbons goes to Aaron Sanchez, who gives up a single to Alex Rios. Alcides Escobar also singles (who else) and the Royals take a 3-1 lead.
Everyone remembers Joey Bats for his iconic bat flip home run in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS. But given the stakes, his multi-home run performance in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS ranks up there for me.
With one mighty swing of the bat, Bautista ties the game up and silences Kauffman Stadium. Edwin Encarnacion follows with a walk and knocks Ryan Madson out of the game, which summons Wade Davis from the Royals’ bullpen.
Davis records the final two outs of the eighth before the skies open and the game goes into a rain delay.
Typically, there’s something that irks me about the in-game interviews with managers, but this one between Gibby and Ken Rosenthal is an exception. Rosenthal is covered by the dugout, but Gibbons has one shoulder out in the open fielding questions.
Gibbons says that Bautista told him in the top of the eighth that if he gets on base, he may need a pinch runner because he may have tweaked his ankle.
Gibby seems confident his team can pull this out: “We’re feeling a heck of a lot better than we did an inning ago, that’s for sure.” He also confirms that if this game goes into extras, the plan is to go with Mark Lowe after Roberto Osuna, followed by Marcus Stroman, if necessary.
Here’s the starter for a potential Game 7, sitting in the bullpen, ready to pitch at a moment’s notice.
There was some debate whether Aaron Sanchez might return to the mound after the 45 minute rain delay, but Gibbons didn’t want to leave anything to chance and went to Roberto Osuna.
The Blue Jays’ closer tried to put away Lorenzo Cain with a 3-2 slider, but walked him. This set the stage for the turning point in this game. Eric Hosmer hits a ball into right field, and thanks in part to the Royals’ advanced scouting, they exposed Bautista’s throwing tendencies and Cain went-first-to-home.
Instead of throwing to the cut-off man, Bautista concerns himself with preventing Hosmer from advancing to second base. Meanwhile, Cain’s already well on his way to scoring the go-ahead run.
Cain did the same thing against the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the ALDS; his blistering speed allowed him to round the bases. The Royals hold the lead 4-3 heading into the top of the 9th.
After being on ice for over an hour, Davis re-emerges from the Royals dugout and is tasked with securing the final three outs for the Royals. But here come the Blue Jays. They begin the top of the ninth with a 16 percent win probability.
On the first pitch from Davis, Russell Martin loops a single into centre field. Dalton Pompey comes into the game as a pinch runner and wastes no time, stealing second base on the first pitch to Kevin Pillar.
Then, Pompey catches Davis napping and steals third base. The Blue Jays have the tying run on third base with nobody out. Pillar draws a walk, which is a small miracle in itself. It’s first and third with nobody out.
Dioner Navarro comes in as a pinch hitter and the Blue Jays’ win probability elevates to 55 percent. With their season on the line, the Blue Jays have Navarro, Revere and Donaldson due up to face Davis. Navarro and Revere had the lowest and fourth-lowest strikeout rates among Blue Jays hitters, so if ever there were two hitters who could avoid striking out, it was them.
Narrator: “They did not.”
Davis strikes out Navarro. Meanwhile, Pillar takes second base on the play and the Blue Jays have the go-ahead run in scoring position. Other than Bautista, Revere was the only Blue Jays hitter to collect more than one hit in this game. Revere jumps out ahead in the count 2-0, and the gears are turning for the Blue Jays.
Then comes one of the most controversial calls in Blue Jays history. The infamous 2-1 pitch from Davis, called a strike.
In retrospect, the call was a little closer than we remembered, but you can’t blame Revere for taking that pitch all the way.
He was stunned when it was called a strike by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson.
— R J (@Tdot_jaysfan) October 24, 2015
Davis gets Revere to strikeout on a nasty slider. Revere — the man who was one of the most jovial baseball players I’ve ever seen — took out his frustrations on a cooler in the dugout.
This is the same man who tried to empty a cooler on his teammates earlier in the season.
You had one job, Ben Revere. pic.twitter.com/6QcfqXfz1B
— Cut4 (@Cut4) September 28, 2015
Toronto’s season rests on the shoulders of Donaldson with runners at second and third base and two men out.
The man who was the hero for the Blue Jays many times before in 2015, but Donaldson’s ground out was the final nail in the coffin. A grounder to third base and that’s the game. After a thrilling buildup, it was an anti-climactic conclusion to the Blue Jays’ 2015 season.
The Royals advance to the World Series.
In retrospect, so many things that could have gone differently for the Blue Jays in Game 6. The controversial home run call, Colabello’s failure to hang onto the ball to get the out on Moustakas, the called strikes on Navarro and Revere in the ninth inning … all of those things might have been turning points in the game.
Game 2 of the ALCS also could have gone a different way. What if Ryan Goins or Jose Bautista catch that pop-up in shallow right field? Does that completely change the complexion of the series? If the Blue Jays hang on to win Game 2 and storm back to win Game 6, they advance to the World Series.
But that’s revisionist history. Yet, we’ll always be left wondering whether Game 6 could’ve gone a much different way for the Blue Jays. If Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS was the pinnacle of thrilling exhilarating baseball, Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS was the pinnacle of heartbreaking, devastating baseball.