Written by Kendrick Fruits
If there was ANY doubt whatsoever that the Royals may be in trouble after surrendering 11 runs to Toronto on Monday night, it was eliminated very quickly tonight. Specifically, it was eliminated in the top of the 1st inning today as the Royals coasted to an easy 14-2 won over the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Royals chased Toronto starter R.A. Dickey from the game in just the second inning, and after Liam Hendriks provided some stability, the Royals proceeded to batter the pitching of LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe, and Ryan Tepera. Its difficult to pick a hitting star for the Royals, because they had contributions from so many players. Ben Zobrist was 2-5 with a 2 run homer. Alex Rios homered in the 7th. Alcides Escobar drove in 4, and Lorenzo Cain plated 3. In fact, third baseman Mike Moustakas was the only Royal who failed to register a hit, but he still drove in a run. All told, Kansas City outhit Toronto 15-7 and this game was never in doubt.
KANSAS CITY NOTES:
Team Effort. As previously mentioned, the Royals picked up contributions up and down the lineup, including 5 players recording multiple hits, 4 players scoring multiple runs, and 3 players driving in multiple runners. Their offensive prowess today was so evident that even Paulo Orlando, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the 7th, collected 2 hits in 2 trips to the plate.
Young effective, but short stay. Royals starter Chris Young did a good job keeping the Jays hitters off balance, surrendering a pair of runs in 4.2 innings, throwing only 78 pitches. The Royals proceeded to use Luke Hochevar before turning the ball over to the dominant back end of the bullpen (Madsen, Herrera, and Morales). Young did his job, and gave the Royals a huge boost by practically lulling the Toronto hitters to sleep, before the Royals ‘pen turned up the heat.
Disappointing day for Dickey. The former NL Cy Young winner and owner of 11 victories this year hardly looked like an ace pitcher today. The Royals had 3 runs across before Dickey even recorded a single out in the first inning, and he ended up allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 4 hits and 2 walks. The other run was scored on a passed ball. The play was reviewed but the call was confirmed.
Bullpen woes continue. Going into the 2015 season, many teams talked about building up their bullpen to match up with the Royals come postseason time. It seems safe to say that the Blue Jays simply cannot match up with them. If Toronto is going to win another game in this series, you can bet they will have to score early, and have their starter go deep into the game because the Royals are simply feasting on the arms that come out of the Toronto ‘pen to the tune of 13 runs in 2 days.
Bats go back to sleep. A night after erupting for 11 runs, the Blue Jays manage only 2, on a Donaldson double and Bautista single in the 3rd inning. Toronto batters struck out 8 times today and the KC relievers all needed a very minimal amount of pitches thrown to get through the back half of the game. In fact, Franklin Morales’ 9th inning was the only inning in which a Royals reliever needed 15 pitches to get through. Toronto is going to have to be more selective at the plate tomorrow.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 21st
ALCS GAME 5. Royals lead series 3 games to 1.
PROBABLE STARTERS: KC- Edinson Volquez (13-9, 3.55) TOR- Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.13)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Both teams used their bullpens heavily today, and it will be interesting to see who will be available for tomorrow’s game. The Royals should be a little more concerned in that aspect (albeit only slightly) because in Game 1, Volquez looked like he was on the ropes through 2 innings, but ended up throwing a solid 6. Obviously the bullpen concerns for Toronto make it paramount that Estrada goes 6 at the very least, although we could see the struggling David Price come in to relieve if manager John Gibbons deems it necessary.
MY PICK: Momentum is real, and the proof of its existence lies in a great bullpen and an offense that feels like they can score at will any moment they choose. Tonight the Royals showed they can produce up and down the lineup, which should certainly be a cause of concern for Toronto. The Royals win tomorrow, and advance to their second straight World Series.