One of the perks of the Blue Jays coming back from down 0-2 against the Texas Rangers is that people aren’t going to be over-reacting to Friday evening’s 5-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals to kick off the American League Championship Series.
The opener was a showcase of what Kansas City does really well and how rough the Jays can look when they’re not knocking the ball around the yard.
Royals starter Edinson Volquez tossed six innings of two-hit ball, fanning five and keeping the Toronto hitters guessing all night. When he turned it over to the bullpen, the trio of Kelvin Herrerra, Ryan Madsen and Luke Hochevar picked up right where he left off, allowing two baserunners over three innings to lock down the victory.
The Jays didn’t have many good swings all evening, collecting just three hits and going 0-7 with runners in scoring position, which has been their downfall this postseason. As an added negative, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion was lost midway through the game due to a reoccurrence of the hand issues that have plagued him all season. While x-rays were negative, his status for today’s afternoon tilt is up in the air.
Kansas City made the most of a few scant hits early in the game, cashing in two in the third and getting one more on a Salvador Perez homer in the fourth before tacking two more runs on in the eighth to officially put things out of reach. Marco Estrada was solid on the bump, scattering six hits over five-and-a-third, but while the Jays couldn’t catch up with the smoke Volquez & Co. were dealing, the Royals picked their spots and made the most of Estrada’s mistakes.
It will be more of the same today with Yordano Ventura taking the hill for the Royals, but this time the Jays will be countering with their own ace, sending David Price to the mound.
Of course, Price has struggled as a starter in the postseason thus far in his career – and wasn’t particularly sharp out of the pen against Texas in Game 4 either – but the lefty could find more success against the Royals, who have a number of key lefthanders in the line-up.
This was always going to be a tight series decided by a couple key hits or misses on either side. The Royals are a tremendous defensive team with a great bullpen and the Blue Jays are going to need to make the most of their opportunities. Conversely, Toronto is going to need strong outings from their starters, especially if there is a good chance they’re going to struggle to put runs on the board.
The final score from Friday’s opener doesn’t properly illustrate how tight this game was from the outset – Volquez was dealing, the Jays tried to screw up his rhythm a couple times and a couple of hits here and there could have shifted how things played out. The additional two in the eighth change the look of things too, but it was an “a hit here changes things” kind of night.
But the Jays couldn’t get the key hits when it mattered and failed to get one across the plate for just the sixth time all season, falling behind to the Royals just as they did the Rangers.
That series turned out okay in the end. Today will go a long way in determining whether this one will too.