written by Kendrick Fruits
There’s just something strange about baseball in Canada this year.
The Toronto Blue Jays saw a 7-run lead evaporate in the 9th inning, but still held on to defeat the Kansas City Royals 11-8 in Game 3 of the ALCS. The Blue Jays win cuts the Royals advantage in the series to 2 games to 1. The Blue Jays offense scored three runs in the second inning, and then added 6 in a monstrous third inning. Troy Tulowitzki homered, and later in the frame, Josh Donaldson went deep to give the Jays a 9-2 lead (and knocking Johnny Cueto out of the game in the process). After a mini-rally by the Royals, Ryan Goins homered to put the Jays in double digits. Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman pitched into the 7th frame, but was hit hard, allowing 11 hits on the evening. Once Stroman left the game, things got hairy. In the 9th inning, Liam Hendriks lasted only 1/3 of an inning, giving up 3 hits. With one run already across, the Jays wasted no time bringing in Roberto Osuna, who was promptly greeted by a towering blast by Royals DH Kendrys Morales. Osuna then got Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez to end the wild and strange game.
–That’s more like it. That is the Toronto offense we saw the last half of the year. That is the explosive Toronto offense, capable of erupting at any moment. And boy, did they do so tonight! It seemed only a matter of time until they broke out of their “slump”, having looked overmatched by Royals’ starters Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura in Games 1 and 2. The linescore shows the Blue Jays were actually outhit by Kansas City 15 to 11, but the difference was that Toronto was able to string their hits together to produce some big innings. Troy Tulowitzki seemed to finally be breaking out of his slump, until a strikeout late in the game led to his ejection.
–Marcus Stroman pitched into the 7th inning, allowing 11 hits, but did a really nice job limiting the damage and spreading out the hits. It was clear early on that Stroman did not have his best stuff, and relied heavily on his changeup to keep Royals hitters off balance.
–Concerns in the pen? Toronto has a young bullpen (excluding the ageless LaTroy Hawkins), and that bullpen has been an area of concern this year, and tonight’s game proved that those concerns are validated. The Royals nearly mounted a comeback in the 9th inning, and we have repeatedly seen the Jays ‘pen look shaky throughout the postseason. Therefore, it seems paramount that Toronto starters go deep into their games.
KANSAS CITY NOTES:
–The hole was just too deep. KC starter Johnny Cueto failed to record a single out in the 3rd inning while surrendering 8 runs. The Royals offense scratched and clawed, and (thanks to Kendrys Morales) mashed their way back into this game, but couldn’t overcome the deficit Cueto put them in. Cueto continuously missed his locations, both in and out of the strike zone, walking 4 and giving up 6 hits. It was a far cry from his masterful performance in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Astros. If Cueto gets another chance to pitch this postseason, he will certainly need to bring his ace stuff to the hill. Anything less than that may not be enough against this Toronto lineup.
–Medlen saves the day. With Cueto’s early departure, the Royals faced the unfavorable proposition of wearing out their bullpen. Enter Kris Medlen. Medlen threw 5 innings of 2-run ball, stabilizing the mess left by Cueto, and giving manager Ned Yost a chance to rest the top-notch bullpen and save them for a more high-leverage game.
–A Royal Rally. As the Kansas City Royals have shown throughout this 2015 postseason, you can never ever count them out of a game. With their backs against the wall in Houston, the Royals continuously rallied late to win. In Game 2 of the ALCS, they could do nothing with David Price for 6 innings before erupting for 5 runs in the 7th inning. Again tonight, they almost pulled off a miraculous comeback. Yes, they lost the game, but for a team down 9-2 and 11-4 at points in the game, to almost come from behind and win after doing it so many times when it mattered most, the Royals were able to salvage some confidence in their offense’s ability to produce in the clutch.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20th
ALCS GAME 4 @Toronto. 4 PM on FOX Sports 1. (Royals lead series 2-1)
PROBABLE PITCHERS: KC- Chris Young ( 11-6, 3.06) TOR- R.A. Dickey (11-11, 3.91)
What to Watch For: With two soft-tossers on the mound, it will be a battle of which offense can be the most patient, which is a battle that favors the Royals. Dickey has had an up and down year, but looked good in his last outing vs. Texas. With the Blue Jays seeing power pitching throughout the playoffs, it isn’t unthinkable that they may struggle tomorrow against Chris Young.
MY PICK: It’s tough to pick against a momentum-dependant team that just lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 11 runs, but I’m gonna do it anyways. ROYALS win, and take a 3-1 series lead.
NLCS GAME 3 @Chicago. 8PM on TBS. (Mets lead series 2-0).
PROBABLE PITCHERS: NYM- Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54) CHC- Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95)
What to Watch For: Can the Cubs solve the masterful Mets pitching? The Cubbies have lots of young power hitters who thrive in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, but with the way the Mets have been pitching, it doesn’t matter where you play, you won’t be scoring much off of them. deGrom struggled a little with command in his last game and got his pitch count way too high, way too early, so watch for him to rebound and try to keep the ball in the yard.
MY PICK: I see no reason why I shouldn’t pick the Mets. Dominant pitching from everyone on the staff and clutch hitting up and down the lineup is a winning combination. Mets take a 3-0 series lead tomorrow night.