KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jeremy Guthrie had just given up the lead on a homer by the Blue Jays’ Colby Rasmus, so when the inning ended, he blew off some steam by chucking the ball into the stands.
Way into the stands. Into the upper deck.
"I thought a fan upstairs deserved a ball. Everyone down below always gets baseballs," Guthrie said afterward. "And so I have a strong arm for the most part, so I figure treat somebody up in the third deck, cheap tickets, give them a nice ball. I’m a very fan-friendly player."
Guthrie’s night was done after six innings — and that toss into the stands. Toronto wound up adding to its lead against the Kansas City bullpen in what turned into a 7-3 rout Thursday night that allowed the Blue Jays to avoid a three-game sweep.
Guthrie allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks, his bumpy night standing in stark contrast to his last four outings against the Blue Jays, when he went 1-0 with a 1.44 ERA.
As for the toss into the crowd, Guthrie’s not concerned about any reprimand from the league.
"I’m more concerned about the repercussions about a couple of home runs again," he said.
Along with the homer by Rasmus, Juan Francisco also went deep for Toronto. Anthony Gose added a pair of RBIs after getting recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to start in place of injured outfielder Melky Cabrera, who remained sidelined after getting hit by a pitch the previous night.
Mark Buehrle (5-1) worked through plenty of trouble to last 6 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks. It was a solid bounce-back performance after the left-hander was hammered for seven runs last Friday night against Boston.
"He mixes speeds. He locates. He frustrates you," said the Royals’ Billy Butler, who drove in a pair of runs. "He feeds off your over aggressiveness."
Aaron Loup pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings for his third career save.
The teams traded blows most of the way.
Toronto struck first when Chris Getz singled in the first inning and then swiped bases all the way to third, where Edwin Encarnacion drove him in with a fielder’s choice.
Kansas City answered in the second when Justin Maxwell walked and Alcides Escobar singled to right. Jose Bautista flubbed the pickup, allowing Maxwell to score easily.
The Royals pulled ahead in the third on Butler’s single, though they squandered another scoring opportunity when Eric Hosmer was thrown out at home for the second straight night.
The Blue Jays regained the lead the next half inning when Francisco, who had two homers in three at-bats off Guthrie last season, hit a two-run shot over the bullpen in right field. But the Royals answered again on Butler’s two-out double to left in the bottom of the fifth.
The Royals kept shifting dramatically to deal with the Blue Jays’ left-handed power hitters, but it didn’t matter when Rasmus came to bat in the sixth. He powered a 1-2 pitch right over the defense for a two-out homer that gave Toronto a 4-3 lead.
Guthrie finished the inning, and then drew a roar from the crowd with his toss into the seats.
"The two-run homer to Francisco was quite frankly a pretty good pitch. He tried to go in and got it in and he hit out of the ball park. The pitch to Rasmus was not the pitch he wanted to make," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He was trying to go back-foot slider and left it up a little bit. I thought he did a good job of keeping us in the game."
Unlike their bullpen, which allowed the Blue Jays to tack on three more runs.
"It was definitely a big win," Loup said. "Close game like it was, back and forth, back and forth. Hopefully it gets us on a roll, gets us some wins."
NOTES: Toronto selected the contract of INF Steve Tolleson from Triple-A Buffalo. INF Jonathan Diaz was optioned to Buffalo and OF Moises Sierra designated for assignment. … Royals LHP Bruce Chen (back inflammation) is expected to go on the DL, Yost said. It was unclear who will start in his place Saturday against Detroit. … Cabrera got the night off after getting hit in the left shin Wednesday. Manager John Gibbons said he should be available for this weekend’s series in Pittsburgh.