All the Toronto Blue Jays needed was a little home cooking.
Monday evening at Rogers Centre, Toronto got back into the American League Championship Series with a “closer than it needed to be” 11-8 victory over the Kansas City Royals, moving the series to 2-1 and continuing the trend of the home side coming away on top. Given that the next two games will take place in Toronto, Blue Jays fans are hoping that’s a pattern that doesn’t change until Game 6 at Kaufman Stadium.
Toronto got in a hole early as Alcides Escobar led off with the game with a triple, the third straight contest in which the Royals lead-off hitter has slashed a ball into the outfield and the second straight game where he’s collected an extra base hit to get things started, and was cashed in on a Ben Zobrist.
But it didn’t take long for the Blue Jays to answer back, as the home side put up three in the second and six more in the third to take a commanding 9-2 lead. The scoreboard read 11-4 in the top of the ninth when things got a little dicey, with Liam Hendricks surrendering two runs and closer Roberto Osuna giving up a two-run bomb to Kendrys Morales, but a pair of ground ball outs ended things and gave the Jays their first win of the series.
After going without a home run in each of the first two games in Kansas City, the team that clubbed the most home runs in Major League Baseball this season got back to going yard, as Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson and Ryan Goins all went deep in the blowout win.
As much as launching baseballs into the bleachers is a positive sign, the bigger plus for the Blue Jays at the dish was that they actually collected hits when they had runners in scoring position, going 5-for-11 in those situations. That was something that was sorely missing in the first two games of the series and if the Jays hope to level the series as two or even leave Toronto with a lead, they’re going to need to continue cashing in in those situations.
Now here’s the uncomfortable part: the Jays are going to need to keep putting crooked numbers on the board if they’re going to stand any chance of winning this series and progressing to the World Series because the bullpen is wholly unreliable at this point and the starters have been hit and miss.
Marcus Stroman was good on Monday, giving up 11 hits and four runs over 6.1 innings to pick up the win and the tandem of Aaron Sanchez and Mark Lowe were strong, sitting down all five batters they faced, but Hendricks was bad and Osuna left one pitch up and paid for it.
LaTroy Hawkins has an ERA that could vote in the United States (21.60), Aaron Loup has struggled and Brett Cecil is unavailable. As the way it stands now, the starters are going to need to keep it close to the seventh before John Gibbons can call on one of three righthanders and if that can’t happen, the Jays are going to struggle to collect victories.
For right now though, things are sunny and hopeful in Toronto, as the Blue Jays looked like the Blue Jays and got back into this year’s American League Championship Series with an 11-8 win.