The Toronto Blue Jays are back in the same position they were against the Texas Rangers, needing to win three consecutive games in order to advance in the postseason after having gotten drubbed 14-2 by the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series Tuesday at the Rogers Centre.
If they lose again, the season is over; it’s as simple as that.
Tuesday got away from the Jays right out of the chute, as Kansas City put up four runs in the first inning and another in the second to take a 5-0 lead before Toronto was able to scratch out a couple of their own in the third to give fans something fleeting to hang onto. As he’s done every game in this series, Alcides Escobar lead off the game with a hit and all but two Royals hitters that arrived at the dish managed to do the same over the course of this nine-inning bloodbath, including pinch runner-turned-rightfielder Paulo Escobar, who went 2-for-2 and scored two runs.
How bad was it? Toronto became the first team in Major League history to have a position player take the hill in a postseason game, sending middle infielder Cliff Pennington to the bump to get the final Royals out of the game.
There’s nothing positive for the Jays to take from this game; it’s simply a case of shower, sleep and try to do significantly better today in Game 5 and if they can’t, they’re done.
R.A. Dickey couldn’t get through two full innings, getting one more out (five) than he gave up earned runs (four) before getting the hook in favour of Liam Hendricks. LaTroy Hawkins continued his horrible series, replacing Hendricks, who did yeoman’s work over 4.1 innings, by giving up two hits, walking one and getting tagged for three earned runs. Ryan Tepera, who hadn’t pitched in the postseason, came in for 1.2 innings, giving up five hits, two walks and four runs as things got way out of hand in the seventh and eighth.
The frustrating part of this game is that it’s not like Royals starter Chris Young was throwing smoke and shutting down the Jays either. After a couple clean innings to start, Toronto two on, one out and one across in the third before Jose Bautista grounded out (cashing one) and Edwin Encarnacion lined out to left.
Yet again, they had a chance to put up runs with the heart of their order at the dish and they sputtered, going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Conversely, the Royals kept coming through with ducks on the pond, even when the game was already wrapped up, going 8-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Once Kansas City got to their bullpen, the game was over and there was no coming back, as Luke Hochevar, Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera and Franklin Morales went 4.1 innings, scattering four hits, striking out four and needing just 52 pitches to get it done.
Toronto needs to come out of the gates on fire today against Edinson Volquez, who was locked in during Game 1 when the Royals started things off with a victory. If they can’t get on the board early and often, they won’t be going back to Kansas City.
Marco Estrada, who was okay, but not outstanding, in Game 1 for the Jays, takes the hill today in Game 5.
They rallied with their backs against the wall against Texas and owe the Royals payback from 30 years ago when Kansas City fought back from a 3-1 deficit to bounce Toronto and go on to win the World Series.
However you want to look at it, the chips are down and it’s time to some out swinging, literally.