Players in the Postseason: #WinorGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite (Oct. 23)
Updated: Oct. 23
This player hails from Texas, where he threw two no-hitters and hit a grand slam in the high school playoffs as a senior. While in high school, he ate two peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches with a glass of milk every night before bed to put weight on and get stronger. He likes the shows "Breaking Bad" and "Game of Thrones," and his family has an Australian spaniel. Who is he?
Will Price Be Right?
Most of the talk before Game 6 of the ALCS (8:07 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1) Friday revolves around whether Blue Jays ace David Price, who led the AL with a 2.45 ERA this season, can get his first postseason victory as a starter. Price remains confident.
"I have to prove that I can pitch at this point in the season in the playoffs," the 29-year-old left-hander said at the pregame news conference. "I get that. But I don't have to go out there and prove that I'm a good pitcher. I think I've done that over my career. So I'm just going to go out there, throw my game, have fun, have good things happen, get good results and good things are going to happen. I know they are."
The 2012 Cy Young Award winner, who has been in the postseason with the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and now Toronto, will face the Royals' Yordano Ventura. The 24-year-old right-hander didn't seem overwhelmed by his task.
"Everybody knows what I feature every day, it's no secret to this game," he said through catching coach and part-time translator Pedro Grifol during the news conference. "I'm going to attack the strike zone. If I've got to pitch in, if I have to make an adjustment away, I'll make the adjustment. And I'm going to give everything tomorrow to help this club win and get to the World Series."
Nobody in the postseason has come as far in so little time as Roberto Osuna. At age 20, the Mexican right-hander is the youngest player on the ALCS rosters, and he fills one of the most pressure-filled roles as the Blue Jays' closer. In his first season with Toronto he set a record for appearances (68) by a pitcher under 21 and struck out 75 batters in 69 2/3 innings overall. He picked up 20 saves after becoming the closer in late June.
If you flash back seven or eight years, though, Osuna was working 11-hour days in the fields in Los Mochis, Mexico, picking tomatoes, potatoes and pickles. Although his dad, Roberto Sr., had pitched professionally for 22 years in the Mexican League, his family had little money. Roberto dropped out of school at 12 to help his family make ends meet.
"It was a hard road," he told the National Post earlier this year. "When I was growing up everyone was against me. Everybody. Leaving school at 12 in Mexico, people think you're crazy, you're lazy."
But he continued to practice with his dad after their long, hot days in the fields and eventually caught on with his father's old team. When he was 16, he signed with the Blue Jays for $1.5 million -- enough to buy a home for his mom and provide tuition for his younger twin brothers.
Osuna's family flew to Toronto and was able to watch him close out the Blue Jays' 7-1 win in Game 5. While they were there they did an interview with CBC. His mom recalls Roberto announcing to the family at age 4 that he would someday be a Major League pitcher.
"Every time I see him pitch, I cry with emotion because for a 4-year-old child to say what he wants to do and fight his whole life and sacrifice his childhood to achieve it is something so great," his mom said.
His Blue Jays teammates are proud of their prodigy and glad to have him to pitch in the ninth inning.
"Being 20 years old, and not just pitching in the big leagues but closing in the big leagues -- and being successful at doing it -- is putting him in a whole other category," veteran LaTroy Hawkins said. "It's incredible. He was in A-ball last year."
The Longest Wait
Every season there is a player who has been in the big leagues for the longest stretch of time without appearing in the postseason. That guy is Alex Rios this year. In fact, the Royals outfielder started his professional career 16 years ago with the Blue Jays' rookie affiliate in Medicine Hat, Alberta, after signing as the 19th overall draft pick.
"The only thing I can recall is big mosquitoes that we used to get on night games," Rios told the Kansas City Star.
From there it took 556 Minor League games and 1,691 Major League games to reach the postseason for the personable, 6-foot-5 Puerto Rican.
"It's been a long road," said Rios, who was 3-for-3 with a home run in the Royals' 14-2 win Tuesday which gave them a 3-1 lead in the ALCS.
In the ALDS against Houston, Rios had the first of five straight hits in the Royals' eighth-inning rally in Game 4 and drove in the go-ahead runs in Game 5.
Some of the best news we've heard all week is that Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy's eyesight has been at least partially restored. He wrote a first-hand account about his amazing recovery on Monday.
McCoy, who turned 75 on Oct. 18, had suffered strokes in 2001 and 2003 that affected the optic nerves in both eyes, and he nearly retired in 2003 until Aaron Boone gave him a pep talk, saying, "You can still do it. We'll help you."
McCoy wrote that he had developed cataracts "on top of the strokes of my optic nerves that left me legally blind for the past dozen years." Then, last week, McCoy underwent surgery to have the cataracts removed and a lens implanted in his left eye. His right eye was inoperable.
"The surgery took 15 minutes, and when I walked out the door of the Cincinnati Eye Institute," he wrote, "I nearly broke out in tears. Everything was clear. I could see a long distance. And I wasn't wearing glasses. I drove my wife, Nadine, crazy on the ride home up I-75. I was reading license plate numbers to her. Before the surgery, I couldn't see the license plates, let alone read them. I saw things along the highway I hadn't noticed."
Happy birthday, Hal!
"We know what it takes to get here. Obviously, we didn't end up where we wanted to be … We have a special group here. We know that we do. We're going to work as hard as we can to get back to this point. We're going to remember what this feels like."
-- Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber, who batted .333 with five home runs and eight RBIs during his first postseason
The Trivia Answer
Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
Follow us @MLB_Players and to catch our postseason social media series, titled #WinOrGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite, featuring some up-close photos courtesy of Getty Sports.