A capsule look at the Blue Jays-Royals playoff series
A look at the best-of-seven American League Championship Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at Kansas City (8:07 p.m.); Game 2, Saturday, at Kansas City (4:07 p.m.); Game 3, Monday, Oct. 19, at Toronto (8:07 p.m.); Game 4, Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Toronto (TBA); x-Game 5, Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Toronto (TBA); x-Game 6, Friday, Oct. 23, at Kansas City (TBA); x-Saturday, Oct. 24, at Kansas City (TBA). (All games on FOX or FS1).
Season Series: Blue Jays won 4-3.
Blue Jays: LF Ben Revere (.306, 2 HRs, 45 RBIs with Phillies and Blue Jays), 3B Josh Donaldson (.297, 41, AL-best 123 RBIs), RF Jose Bautista (.250, 40, 114), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.277, 39, 111), 1B Chris Colabello (.321, 15, 54), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.280, 17, 70 with Rockies and Blue Jays), C Russell Martin (.240, career-high 23 HRs, 77), CF Kevin Pillar (.278, 12, 56), 2B Ryan Goins (.250, 5, 45).
Royals: SS Alcides Escobar (.257, 4, 32), 2B Ben Zobrist (.276, 13, 56 with Athletics and Royals), CF Lorenzo Cain (.307, 16, 72), 1B Eric Hosmer (.297, 18, 93), DH Kendrys Morales (.290, 22, 106), 3B Mike Moustakas (.284, 22, 82), C Salvador Perez (.260, 21, 70), LF Alex Gordon (.271, 13, 48), RF Alex Rios (.255, 4, 32).
Blue Jays: RH Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.13 ERA), LH David Price (18-5, AL-best 2.45 with Tigers and Blue Jays), RH Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67 in 4 September starts), RH R.A. Dickey (11-11, 3.91).
Royals: RH Edinson Volquez (13-9, 3.55), RH Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08), RH Johnny Cueto (11-13, 3.44 with Reds and Royals), RH Kris Medlen (6-2, 4.01) or RH Chris Young (11-6, 3.06).
Blue Jays: RH Roberto Osuna (1-6, 2.58, 20/23 saves), RH Aaron Sanchez (7-6, 3.24 in 40 games, 11 starts), RH Mark Lowe (1-3, 1.96 with Mariners and Blue Jays), RH LaTroy Hawkins (3-1, 3.26 with Rockies and Blue Jays), RH Liam Hendriks (5-0, 2.95, 71 Ks, 64 IP), LH Aaron Loup (2-5, 4.46), RH Ryan Tepera (0-2, 3.27, 1 save in 32 games).
Royals: RH Wade Davis (8-1, 0.94, 17 saves), RH Kelvin Herrera (4-3, 2.71), RH Ryan Madson (1-2, 2.13), LH Franklin Morales (4-2, 3.18), LH Danny Duffy (7-8, 4.08), RH Jeremy Guthrie (8-8, 5.95), RH Luke Hochevar (1-1, 3.73).
These teams met in the 1985 AL Championship Series, the first year the format was expanded from five to seven games. The Royals rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win in seven games, including road victories in Games 6 and 7, and went on to beat St. Louis for their only World Series title. … When the Royals ended a 29-year playoff absence last season, they handed the distinction of longest drought to the Blue Jays (21 years). … Toronto dropped two of three at Kansas City before the All-Star break. The Blue Jays rallied from a seven-run deficit with an eight-run sixth in the series finale on July 12, only to lose 11-10. … Toronto won three of four at home from July 30 to Aug. 2, right after a busy week of trade-deadline deals transformed the team. The benches cleared during a testy series that included pitchers throwing at hitters. … The Blue Jays outscored the Royals 39-33 in the season series. … Price took the loss in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Rangers and has dropped six straight postseason starts. He earned a win with a three-inning relief stint in Game 4 at Texas. … Price faced Kansas City in back-to-back May starts with Detroit, going 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA. He’s 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in six career games against the Royals, including five starts. … After facing left-handers in four of their five games against Texas, the Blue Jays are likely to face mostly right-handers against the Royals. Toronto hit .266 against righties this season, tied with Kansas City for fourth-best in the majors. … Toronto lost lefty reliever Brett Cecil to a torn left calf in Game 2 of the ALDS and replaced him with Tepera. Loup missed the final two games of the ALDS because of a personal matter. His status for the ALCS was unclear.
Blue Jays: Toronto (93-69) was 50-51 after losing to lowly Philadelphia on July 28, the same day GM Alex Anthopoulos acquired Tulowitzki and Hawkins from the Rockies. Two days later, Price arrived from Detroit, and Anthopoulos capped a busy trade-deadline flurry by landing Revere from the Phillies and Lowe from the Mariners. The deals beefed up an already-prolific offense, overhauled the shaky bullpen and added a true ace to the top of the rotation. The Blue Jays went 43-18 the rest of the way under manager John Gibbons, erasing a seven-game deficit to overtake the New York Yankees and win the AL East by six games. … Toronto ended the longest active playoff drought in the majors, a slump that stretched back to 1993 and the second of the club’s consecutive World Series titles. … Finally back in the postseason, the Blue Jays rallied past Texas in the ALDS and became the third team to win a best-of-five series after dropping the first two games at home. The 2001 Yankees also did it against Oakland, and the 2012 Giants did it against Cincinnati. Both those clubs went on to reach the World Series. … In the deciding Game 5 at Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays took advantage of three straight Rangers errors in a wild seventh inning to overcome a 3-2 deficit. Bautista launched a tiebreaking, three-run homer that sent Toronto to a 6-3 win. Encarnacion had a tying homer in the sixth. … Toronto led the majors with 891 runs, 127 more than the next-best offense, the Yankees, who had 764. … The power-packed Blue Jays led the majors with 232 homers. Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion combined for 120, most by any trio of players in Toronto history. … Toronto finished with a 3.81 team ERA, good for fifth-best in the AL. … The Blue Jays went 15-28 in one-run games, the worst record in the majors.
Royals: The defending AL champions went 11-17 in September before holding off the Blue Jays for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. … Kansas City (95-67) won the AL Central by 12 games for its first division title since taking the AL West in 1985. Then the Royals overcame a 2-1 series deficit to beat the wild-card Astros in the best-of-five ALDS. Kansas City has rallied from four-run deficits in the eighth inning of elimination games each of the past two seasons, including Game 4 in Houston. … Even without closer Greg Holland, who recently had Tommy John surgery, the bullpen remains among the best in baseball. Davis has become a dominant closer in his own right. … Morales had three homers and six RBIs in the ALDS. Perez had two homers and four RBIs. Cueto, acquired midseason to win big games at the top of the rotation, did just that in Game 5. Brushing off his late-season struggles, he pitched eight effective innings and finished strong in a 7-2 victory. … Kansas City had three players hit 20 or more homers after none reached that plateau last season. … Cain was fourth in the AL in wins above replacement (WAR) behind the Angels’ Mike Trout, Donaldson, and the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier. … Kansas City had the third-best team batting average (.269) in baseball and 10th-best ERA (3.73). … The Royals had seven All-Stars this season, not counting manager Ned Yost and the entire coaching staff. … After falling just short of a World Series championship last year with a Game 7 loss to San Francisco, the resilient, never-say-die Royals are trying to take this run one step farther.
– Bad Blood. Tempers boiled over in the final regular-season meeting between the teams, a 5-2 home win for Toronto on Aug. 2. Sanchez was ejected for hitting Escobar with a pitch, leading to both benches and bullpens emptying. Toronto was upset after Volquez plunked Donaldson and later threw high and inside to the MVP contender. Madson also threw high and tight to Donaldson, and hit Tulowitzki on the arm. Gibbons and Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale also were ejected. Volquez later accused Donaldson of overreacting, calling him ”a little baby.”
– Pitching In. Cueto came through in the Division Series when it mattered most, but the rest of the Royals’ rotation was merely average against the Astros, as was the bullpen outside of Davis.
– Opposites Attract. While the Blue Jays often pummel their opponents with the long ball, the Royals still rely on speed, defense and making contact at the plate. They made several dynamic fielding plays in Game 5 of the ALDS, including a great catch by Zobrist and a sliding grab in foul territory by Gordon.