The Kansas City Royals bounced back from their 11-8 game three loss to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 12-2 in game four to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. The matchup on Tuesday pitted knuckleballer R.A. Dickey against 88 MPH fastballer Chris Young of the Royals.
Young’s last playoff appearance came in game one of the ALDS against Houston when starter Yordano Ventura got himself into trouble, causing Young to come in for relief; “CY” Young tossed four innings of relief and allowed just one run on three hits.
Young came in to pitch in to Tornto’s home run hitting offense in a ballpark that features 328 feet corners, a hitter’s dream. R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball tossed in game four of the ALDS against Texas; he pitched 4.2 innings and allowed just one run on five hits. Today was a much different story for Dickey as Young continued to shine.
The first inning showed no promises for Dickey as he allowed a leadoff bunt single to Alcides Escobar that was followed by a two-run bomb into the right field seats from second baseman Ben Zobrist. A passed ball by Dickey allowed a run to score to increase the lead further to 3-0. Mike Moustakas tacked on one more run on a sac fly to finish out the Royals’ scoring in the first inning.
Chris Young (who struck out seven in his four inning outing against Houston) allowed Josh Donaldson to reach base on a walk in the first inning, but proceeded to strike out the side. Former Blue Jay Alex Rios landed one in the left-center field seats in the top of the second to increase the Royals lead to 5-0 and ran Dickey out of the game allowing him to toss only 1.2 innings.
With the hopes of tying the series slowly fading for Blue Jay fans, the Blue Birds were able to cut the deficit to 5-2 in the bottom of the third courtesy of a Josh Donaldson RBI double and a Jose Bautista RBI groundout. What cannot go unsaid is the performance by Liam Hendriks, who took over for Dickey in the second and hurled 4.2 scoreless one-hit innings, keeping the deficit at a reasonable 5-2 for the Jays.
Chris Young continued to deal despite the short ballpark and his “slow heat;” he was replaced by Luke Hochevar in the bottom of the fifth inning. Young completed his outing with 2 earned runs on 3 hits in 4.2 innings, also striking out 4.
Hochevar pitched the end of the fifth and the entire sixth inning only allowing one hit. Latroy Hawkins relieved Hendriks for the 7th inning and immediately loaded the bases without recording an out. Hawkins was replaced by Ryan Tepera in an attempt to keep the Birds in the game.
Alcides Escobar drove in a run with a sac fly while a seventh run was allowed to score on a wild pitch by Tepera.
A single by Lorenzo Cain and a sac fly by Eric Hosmer increased the Royals lead to 9-2. Royals reliever Ryan Madson took over for Hochevar and tossed a one-hit shutout seventh inning. Apparently, Kansas City was not satisfied with a 9-2 lead as they tacked on 3 in the eighth to take a 12-2 lead over the #2 seeded team in the American League.
After allowing two baserunners to reach in the top of the ninth, Blue Jay shortstop/second baseman Cliff Pennington emerged from the bullpen to pitch for the Birds; he allowed two hits and two runs to cross the plate, 14-2 Royals. Franklin Morales tossed a one-hit ninth inning to close things out and secure the Royals a 3-1 series lead.
The Toronto Blue Jays got a taste of their own medicine on Tuesday as the Royals hammered two home runs and scored 14 runs on 15 hits; on Monday, the Blue Jays scored 11 runs on 11 hits to cut the KC series lead to 2-1.
The Royals game two win last Saturday ensured that Toronto would have to win at least one game at Kauffman Stadium in Missouri, but Tuesday’s win ensures that Toronto will need to win on Wednesday at home as well as two times in Kanasas City in order to win the series.
Chris Young also continued to be clutch for the Royals ball club, giving quality innings (even though he didn’t pitch 5 innings today) in his last two postseason appearances. KC’s bullpen proved solid once again as the 4 relievers allowed just 3 hits.
The Blue Jays used 4 relievers and one everyday player to combat the Royals hot bats; combined, their bullpen allowed 9 runs on 11 hits. The Royals offense proved worthy of the “best offense in the AL” title and also breaking a franchise record with the most runs scored in a playoff game with 12 runs scored (previous record was 11 in 1985).
3 Stars of the Game:
#3- (KC) 2B Ben Zobrist- 2-4, 2 RBI, HR, BB, 2 runs
#2- (KC) CF Lorenzo Cain- 2-3, 3 RBI, 2 BB, run
#1- (KC) SS Alcides Escobar- 2-3, 4 RBI, run
As they take a 3-1 series lead after their 14-2 blowout win on Tuesday, Kansas City can win their second straight American League pennant in game five on Wednesday. If the Jays pull out a win in game five, the series will return to Kansas City for game six and the “if necessary” game seven. Right hander Edinson Volquez (game one winner) takes the mound for the Royals against Marco Estrada (game one losing pitcher).
First pitch of game five at 4:07 PM ET, 1:07 PT on Wednesday at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
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