1985 American League Championship Series

1985 American League Championship Series

Infobox LCS
alcs = yes

year = 1985
champion = Kansas City Royals (4)
champion_manager = Dick Howser
champion_games = 91-71, .562, GA: 1
runnerup = Toronto Blue Jays (3)
runnerup_manager = Bobby Cox
runnerup_games = 99-62, .615, GA: 2
date = October 8October 16
MVP = George Brett (Kansas City)
television = NBC
announcers = Bob Costas and Tony Kubek
radio_network = CBS Radio
radio_announcers = Ernie Harwell and Curt Gowdy
umpires = Dave Phillips, Dale Ford, Jim Evans, Ted Hendry, Vic Voltaggio, Derryl Cousins
The by|1985 American League Championship Series was played between the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays from October 8 to October 16. Major League Baseball decided to extend the Championship Series in both leagues to a best-of-seven format starting with this year, and it proved pivotal in the outcome of the ALCS. The Blue Jays seemingly put a stranglehold on the Series, going out to a 3 games to 1 lead over the Royals at one point. However, Kansas City staged a miraculous comeback, winning the next three games to take the Series 4 games to 3. The Royals would eventually defeat their cross-state rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the World Series by an identical 4 games to 3 count.

The oddsmakers favored Toronto, 8-5. During the opening pregame show, announcer Tony Kubek was one of the few to predict a Kansas City victory. This prediction was especially curious considering Kubek worked on Blue Jays television broadcasts during the regular season.


The Royals had long been a contending team in the American League, with great regular season success but frustration in the playoffs. They won three consecutive American League West division titles from by|1976 to by|1978, only to be defeated in the ALCS all three years by the New York Yankees. The Royals did manage to defeat the Yankees and get through the ALCS in 1980, but lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies. In by|1984, K.C. again won the Western Division, but fell victim to an ALCS sweep at the hands of the eventual World champion Detroit Tigers. 1985 saw the Royals posting a record of 91-71 (.562) to take yet another Western Division title, edging the California Angels by a game.

By contrast, the Blue Jays had only been established in by|1977, and the late 1970s and early 1980s for them were marked by the normal struggles faced by an expansion team. Beginning in by|1982, however, they began churning out increasingly solid seasons, achieving their first winning season in by|1983 and finishing second in the American League East in 1984 behind Detroit. 1985 proved to be a breakout year for Toronto, as they rode strong offense and pitching to the second-best record in all of baseball, at 99-62 (.615), taking the AL East by two games over the Yankees.


Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Kansas City wins the series, 4-3

Game summaries

Game 1

Tuesday, October 8, 1985 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, OntarioLinescore
Road=Kansas City|RoadAbr=KCR
WP=Dave Stieb (1-0)|LP=Charlie Leibrandt (0-1)|SV=|

The Blue Jays entered the series as heavy favorites and the opening contest pitted Dave Stieb against Charlie Leibrandt at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. And by the fourth inning, everyone knew why Toronto was such heavy favorites. Neither team scored in the first but in the second the Blue Jays went to work. Jesse Barfield singled and went to second when Willie Upshaw was hit by a pitch. Garth Iorg forced Barfield at third, but with Iorg on first and Upshaw on second, Ernie Whitt singled to score Upshaw with the first run of the series. Tony Fernández singled to shortstop scoring Iorg, and a single by Damaso Garcia loaded the bases with only one out. But Leibrandt induced a pop out by Lloyd Moseby and a ground out by George Bell.

After nearly breaking it open in the second, the Blue Jays expanded their lead in the third and sent Leibrandt to an early shower. A double by Cliff Johnson was followed by a walk to Barfield. The game was then delayed due to rain. Whether the rain ended Leibrandt's effectiveness or the Jays simply figured him out, Upshaw's single loaded the bases with nobody out and brought Steve Farr into the game. Rance Mulliniks then singled to score Johnson and keep the bases loaded. A walk to Whitt scored Barfield to make it 4-0. A sacrifice fly from Fernandez made it 5-0. Farr finally settled down and got the next two batters out, but KC was in a 5-0 hole en route to a 6-1 loss. The last Jays run scored when George Bell singled and scored on a throwing error by Steve Balboni on a fielder's choice to the next batter, Cliff Johnson.

Willie Wilson scored the Royals' only run in the ninth when he singled, moved to third on a George Brett single, and scored on a fielders choice ground out by Pat Sheridan. The Blue Jays scored six runs and left nine runners on base. Leibrandt got the loss while Stieb pitched eight for the win and Tom Henke closed it out in the ninth.

The victory gave the Jays a 1-0 lead in the LCS.

Game 2

Wednesday, October 9, 1985 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, OntarioLinescore
Road=Kansas City|RoadAbr=KCR
WP=Tom Henke (1-0)|LP=Dan Quisenberry (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=Willie Wilson (1), Pat Sheridan (1)|HomeHR=|

Game 2 had its share of both excitement and controversy before the Blue Jays prevailed, 6-5, in ten innings. This game matched the Royals' Bud Black against Toronto left-hander Jimmy Key. The Royals scored in the third when Buddy Biancalana singled and scored on a home run by the light-hitting Willie Wilson to make it 2-0. They extended their lead in the fourth when Darryl Motley singled and scored on a double by Jim Sundberg. The Jays, trailing 3-0, got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when George Bell reached on an error by George Brett and scored on Cliff Johnson's double to make it 3-1.

Similar to game one, rain interrupted the starting pitcher with the Blue Jays at bat, this time in the sixth inning with the Royals leading, 3-1. With two outs, Black hit Bell with a pitch. Cliff Johnson singled to left to put runners at first and second with two out. Black then threw a wild pitch, moving the runners up ninety feet. Seeing a chance to tie it, Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox pulled Johnson and sent in a faster pinch-runner, Lou Thornton. The move paid off when Barfield singled up the middle to score both runners and tie the game at three. Black retired Upshaw but now had a tie game.

In the bottom of the eighth, Royals manager Dick Howser sent in his closer, Dan Quisenberry, to keep the tie. With one out, Lloyd Moseby singled, stole second, and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Jim Sundberg. When Moseby then scored on George Bell's sacrifice fly, the Blue Jays were only three outs from a 2-0 series lead. But Kansas City would not go quietly. Reserve outfielder Pat Sheridan pinch-hit for Motley and drilled a game-tying solo shot off Tom Henke to lead off the ninth. Neither team scored and the game went into extra innings.

In the top of the tenth, Willie Wilson singled to center. There was some controversy, however, as replays showed that Moseby clearly had caught the ball. Wilson stole second with two outs and scored on a single by Frank White. The Blue Jays came to bat with a potential tainted Royal win hanging in the balance.

The Blue Jays responded with a single by Tony Fernández. Fernandez moved to second on Damaso Garcia's infield fielder's choice and scored on Moseby's single. Quisenberr then tried to pick of Moseby. The pick-off was initiall successful, but Steve Balboni threw the ball away and Moseby was safe at second. Al Oliver drove Moseby home with the winning run and the Blue Jays headed for Kansas City with a 2-0 series lead. Each closer was involved in the decision as Henke got the win and Quisenberry the loss.

Game 3

Friday, October 11, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, MissouriLinescore
Home=Kansas City|HomeAbr=KCR
WP=Steve Farr (1-0)|LP=Jim Clancy (0-1)|SV=
RoadHR=Rance Mulliniks (1), Jesse Barfield (1)|HomeHR=George Brett 2 (2), Jim Sundberg (1)|

In past years, a 2-0 hole would mean a must-win game, but the Royals entered game three not having to win to keep playing but only to keep the series close. Game three saw the Royals send the 1985 Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen to the mound against Doyle Alexander for the Blue Jays. And George Brett's one-man show put the Royals back into the series. Entering the game, Dick Howser had an all-time post-season managerial record of 0-11.

With two outs in the first, Brett unloaded a home run to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. The Blue Jays threatened in the third when Garcia doubled and reached third on Lonnie Smith's throwing error. Moseby grounded to Brett at third, who stunned everybody by gunning the ball home and getting Garcia to preserve the 1-0 Kansas City lead. In the fourth, Brett opened with a double, went to third on McRae's fly to right, and scored White's fly to right to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.

But the Blue Jays fought back. In the fifth, Whitt singled and Barfield homered to tie the game at two. Garcia then doubled and Moseby singled off of Saberhagen's leg to put two on. Whether it was the injury to Saberhagen, momentum for Toronto, or simple ability, Rance Mulliniks drilled a three-run homer and the Blue Jays were suddenly out front, 5-2. Bud Black succeeded Saberhagen and promptly loaded the bases on singles by Johnson and Bell and a walk to Whitt. With Barfield, who had already homered, at the plate, Howser sent for Steve Farr who got the Royals out of the jam with a 4-3 ground out.

The Royals fought back, getting a Jim Sundberg solo home run in the fifth to make it 5-3. In the sixth, Wilson singled and Brett hit his second homer to tie the game at five. Dennis Lamp replaced Alexander and got out of the jam. In the eighth, Brett singled, went to second on McRae's bunt, went to third on White's infield grounder, and scored on Balboni's single to give the Royals a 6-5 lead. Howser stuck with Farr who got through the ninth in order and the Royals won, 6-5. Brett had a game for the ages, going 4 for 4 with a single, a double, two homers, three RBIs, and four runs scored. For his efforts, NBC selected Brett as the Lite Beer player of the game. The win narrowed the Blue Jays lead to 2-1 entering game four in Kansas City.

Game 4

Saturday, October 12, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, MissouriLinescore
Home=Kansas City|HomeAbr=KCR
WP=Tom Henke (2-0)|LP=Charlie Leibrandt (0-2)|SV=|

The Toronto Blue Jays prevailed, 3-1, in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with the Kansas City Royals. The Royals needed a win to tie the series while Toronto still needed one more victory after Game 4 to clinch the first pennant for a team outside the United States.

The fourth game was a rematch of the pitchers who had started Game 1, with Stieb taking on Leibrandt. Entering the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Jays had only two hits and the Royals had only one. But a walk to Lonnie Smith and a single to Willie Wilson put runners at first and third with nobody out and the hot-hitting George Brett at the plate. Not wanting to take chances, Toronto manager Bobby Cox opted to walk Brett, loading the bases with nobody out. Another walk to Hal McRae gave the Royals a 1-0 lead. But Stieb, showing incredible resolve, got out of the inning by inducing a pop out by Sheridan and a double play grounder from Frank White.

Entering the ninth, it appeared the walk was going to be the difference between the winner and loser. For the second time in four games, Dick Howser sent Dan Quisenberry to close out the game. For the second time in four games, the Blue Jays came back to win. Leibrandt opened the ninth having surrendered only four hits. But a walk to Damaso Garcia and a double by Moseby tied the game. Quisenberry entered the game and gave up a single to George Bell and a double to Al Oliver that scored Moseby and Bell, giving the Jays a 3-1 lead. The Royals did get two on and two out in the ninth, but Henke got out of the jam unscathed and emerged a winner for the second time in three games.

Game 5

Sunday, October 13, 1985 at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, MissouriLinescore
Home=Kansas City|HomeAbr=KCR
WP=Danny Jackson (1-0)|LP=Jimmy Key (0-1)|SV=|

A well-rested Danny Jackson took the mound for KC hoping to stave off elimination in the ALCS. The Blue Jays sent their own well-rested starter, Jimmy Key, to the mound in the hopes of making the World Series for the first time ever.

In the bottom of the first, Lonnie Smith doubled, stole third, and came home on an infield out by George Brett. In the second, Frank White reached on a bunt single, moved to third on a Balboni single, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Darryl Motley.

Spotted the early 2-0 lead, Danny Jackson made it stand up the rest of the way. The Blue Jays scattered eight hits but couldn't score. In the fourth, the Jays had runners on first and third with nobody out but failed to plate a runner. In the fifth, they had runners on second and third with nobody out but still couldn't score. In the sixth, they loaded the bases with two outs but failed to score. After squandering chances in three consecutive innings, the Jays failed to even gain a base runner in the final three innings. Jackson pitched a complete game shutout to cut the Blue Jays lead to three games to two as the series headed back to Toronto.

Game 6

Tuesday, October 15, 1985 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, OntarioLinescore
Road=Kansas City|RoadAbr=KCR
WP=Mark Gubicza (1-0)|LP=Doyle Alexander (0-1)|SV=Dan Quisenberry (1)
RoadHR=George Brett (3)|HomeHR=|

A win for the Royals in Game 6 would force the first-ever Game 7 in the LCS while a win for the Blue Jays would give them their first appearance in the World Series. Game six was the first series appearance for Mark Gubicza, who started for the Royals, against Doyle Alexander, the game three starter for Toronto.

In the top of the first, walks to Wilson and Brett plated the Royals a run when McRae singled Wilson home. The Blue Jays tied it in the bottom of the first when Garcia doubled, Moseby singled, and Garcia scored when Mulliniks grounded into a double play.In the top of the third, Brett reached on a fielder's choice and scored on a double by Hal McRae. The Blue Jays again tied it when Fernandez doubled to left and moved to third on a wild pitch by Gubicza. Fernandez then scored on Moseby's ground out to make the score, 2-2. In the fifth, Brett hit his third home run of the series - all of them off Doyle Alexander - and the Royals were back in front, 3-2. In the sixth, Sundberg walked and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. He then scored on a double by Buddy Biancalana, who then went to third on a throwing error and scored on Lonnie Smith's double. The Blue Jays got one run back when Moseby singled, moved to second on a walk to Upshaw, and scored on Cliff Johnson's single to make it 5-3. That is how the game ended as the Royals had tied the Series at three wins apiece.

Game 7

Wednesday, October 16, 1985 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, OntarioLinescore
Road=Kansas City|RoadAbr=KCR
WP=Charlie Leibrandt (1-2)|LP=Dave Stieb (1-1)|SV=
RoadHR=Pat Sheridan (2)|HomeHR=|

Earlier the same day, Jack Clark had put the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series with a three-run blast off the Dodgers' Tom Niedenfuer. Their opponent would be the winner of this Game 7, promising an intriguing match-up for the World Championship: either an I-70 Series between Missouri's two major league teams, or the first- ever entry by a team from outside the United States. The Blue Jays sent Dave Stieb to the mound for the third time in the series, as he had won both his previous starts. The Royals countered with Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen, who had been injured in Game 3.

The Royals had scored first in every game except Game 1. This trend continued when Pat Sheridan reached on a bunt, went to second on fielder's choice by Balboni, and scored on a single by Jim Sundberg.I n the bottom of the third, the Blue Jays again hit Saberhagen with a batted ball, this one so hard that Mulliniks wound up at second. After Saberhagen retired the side, Leibrandt took over for him.

In the fourth, Sheridan scored both his and the Royals' second run on a homer. The Blue Jays cut the lead in half when Garcia singled and scored on Upshaw's double in the bottom of the fifth. With the score 2-1, the Royals came to bat in the sixth against a weakening Stieb. After getting Wilson to fly out, Stieb walked Brett and hit McRae with a pitch. Sheridan subsequently hit into a fielder's choice that forced Brett at third, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Stieb then walked Balboni to face the presumably lesser threat, Jim Sundberg. Sundberg drilled a high drive toward the outfield stands that hit the top of the fence and bounced high in the air, landing fair in play next to Jesse Barfield. The runners, running with the pitch, easily scored and Sundberg wound up at third with a three-run triple giving the Royals a 5-1 lead. Jim Acker came in for Stieb and promptly gave up a single to Frank White that scored Sundberg and made the score, 6-1.

Leibrandt cruised until the ninth. With one out, Leibrandt gave up a single to Barfield and a double to Fernandez. For the third time in the series, Quisenberry came on to close it out. Unlike his prior two attempts, he was successful, only allowing one run that scored on a ground out. The Royals prevailed, 6-2, and became the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the LCS. George Brett, who went eight for 23 with two doubles, three homers, seven RBIs, seven walks, and a .348 batting average was the MVP of the series. Brett, in fact, had a role in half of Kansas City's total of 26 runs, scoring six and driving in seven.

Composite Box

1985 ALCS (4-3): Kansas City Royals over Toronto Blue JaysLinescore
Road=Kansas City Royals
Home=Toronto Blue Jays
H1=1|H2=2|H3=4|H4=2|H5=6|H6=3|H7=0|H8=1|H9=4|H10=2|HR=25|HH=65|HE=4Total Attendance: 264,167 Average Attendance: 37,738|


After the game, Bobby Cox left the Toronto organization to become the general manager of the Atlanta Braves.

Amazingly, the Royals staged a similar comeback from the 3-1 series deficit in the 1985 World Series against the St.Louis Cardinals.

Ironically, both Danny Jackson and Charlie Leibrandt, heroes of Game 5 and 7 respectively, would become goats for their teams in the future against the Blue Jays many post-seasons later. In Game 6 of the 1992 World Series, Leibrandt (now playing for the Atlanta Braves) gave up an eventual game-winning double to Dave Winfield in the 11th inning, becoming the losing pitcher in the series-clincher for the Blue Jays. Jackson would start once again against the Blue Jays in Game 3 of the 1993 World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies, getting shelled for 3 runs in the first inning and eventually taking the loss.


External links

* [http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1985_ALCS.shtml Baseball-Reference.com] - 1985 ALCS

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