Players in the Postseason: #WinorGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite (Oct. 22)
Updated: Oct. 22
This player hails from Ontario but spent much of his childhood in Quebec and learned to speak French as well as his more familiar English. He describes himself as incredibly stubborn as a kid; for example, he tore the training wheels off of his bike because he didn't like them and racked up cuts and scrapes from falls as he learned to bike the hard way. This player also enjoys a variety of music, and his sister is studying to be a classical singer. Who is he?
The Wright Moment
David Wright, 23 and in his second Major League season at the time, was in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the ninth inning of NLCS Game 7 at Shea Stadium in 2006 when Adam Wainwright threw one of the nastiest breaking pitches you will ever see to freeze Carlos Beltran for a season-ending strikeout. The Mets squandered September leads of seven games in 2007 and 3 1/2 games in 2008. Then it got worse. The Mets suffered six consecutive losing seasons.
"Those were tough times,'' Wright said. "So many people in my life have seen me come home year in and year out, down in the dumps because we missed the playoffs again.''
Yet Wright only wanted to play for the Mets, the team he rooted for during his childhood and signed with as a 17-year-old first-round Draft pick in 2001. Despite the losing, he signed an eight-year contract in 2012 and struggled through two more difficult seasons. This season he missed more than three months with a back injury. But all of that confidence and perseverance paid off with a berth in the World Series for the club he now captains.
"It's been a long road for me personally," Wright said. "Every day in rehab, I dreamt about this moment. Not just this moment and getting here, but winning it. We're in the World Series. I can't believe I'm saying it. I can't believe it's here."
Michael Cuddyer, Wright's boyhood friend from Virginia and a player Wright personally recruited to join this year's club, is also going to the World Series for the first time.
"To be able to share this with him, and play with him, means the world," Cuddyer said. "We're all pretty ecstatic in here, but for him, this means everything. We know what he means to this organization, I think we'll remember this night forever.''
Big first baseman Lucas Duda almost single-handedly silenced the crowd at Wrigley Field, breaking out of a slump to drive in five runs in the first two innings with a three-run homer in the first and a two-run double in the second inning. He had been 3-for-24 with 13 strikeouts for the postseason going into the game, and frustrated with his performance.
"It's been a long time since I contributed anything offensively, so it's definitely nice," he said.
Ho-hum, Murphy hits another home run
Yes, Daniel Murphy hit another home run. It was late in the game and perhaps a little less dramatic than some of his other recent shots, and the occurrence probably would no longer qualify as news except that this one, his sixth in as many games, broke the MLB postseason record for consecutive postseason games with a home run. The previous record of five was set by Carlos Beltran as member of the Houston Astros in 2004. Murphy now has seven homers this postseason in just 39 at-bats entering the World Series.
Marco the Stopper
Right-hander Marco Estrada, who picked up the Blue Jays in their must-win Game 3 against Texas in the ALDS, gave the Blue Jays exactly what they needed again in ALCS Game 5 with the club facing elimination and a depleted bullpen. Estrada faced one batter over the minimum through the first seven innings, giving up just one hit and one walk, to help Toronto send the ALCS back to Kansas City. Chris Colabello homered, and Troy Tulowitzki supported the effort with a three-run double, but the 32-year-old, who before this season had never thrown more than 150 innings, did the heavy lifting, pitching into the eighth before Salvador Perez put KC on the scoreboard with a solo homer.
"It's the same thing he did for us last time," Colabello said. "You can't ask for more than that."
Knowing he needed to last well into the game, Estrada was aggressive in the strike zone, throwing just 64 pitches through six innings and 108 in total, 72 of them strikes.
Going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come
The Blue Jays are the 41st team of the 80 who have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series to force a Game 6. Of those 41 teams, only 12 have gone on to win the series. Toronto will need to win two games in Kansas City against the defending AL pennant winners -- a tall order.
With a day to travel and work out in Kansas City, the series resumes on Friday at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Yordano Ventura, who held the Blue Jays to three runs and struck out six over 5 1/3 innings in Game 2, will pitch for the Royals. David Price, the Jays' starter, was at his best for six innings in Game 2, before the Royals exploded for a five-run seventh.
The Fountain of Youth
Sure, you keep hearing about the Mets' super-talented young pitching staff, but there was 42-year-old Bartolo Colon, veteran of 18 Major League seasons and seven postseasons, coming into the game with two on and two out in the fifth inning to help preserve the Mets' 8-3 win over the Cubs and their sweep of the NLCS. The Dominican-born right-hander, whose first postseason appearance was with Cleveland in 1998, struck out rookie slugger Kris Bryant, then pitched a scoreless sixth to get the win. In doing so Colon, who was 14-13 while pitching 192 innings in the regular season, became the oldest pitcher to win a clinching game in a League Championship Series. Colon's last postseason win came in the Indians' 2001 ALDS match with the Mariners.
"From now on, when people talk about the 2015 Mets, they'll be talking about one of the greatest Mets teams in history. That has a nice ring to it."
-- Mets captain David Wright
The Trivia Answer
Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Follow us @MLB_Players and to catch our postseason social media series, titled #WinOrGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite, featuring some up-close photos courtesy of Getty Sports.