Royals Take 2-0 ALCS Lead: Games 1 and 2 Recap

The Kansas City Royals took the first two games of the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  The series now heads to Toronto, with the Jays trailing, 2-0.

On Friday, Edinson Volquez took the mound for the Royals as Marco Estrada tossed for the Blue Birds. Volquez ended up pitching 6 innings without allowing a run on just six hits, while Estrada tossed for just 5.2 innings and allowed 3 earned runs.  

Scoring started in the third inning for the Royals, as Alex Gordon doubled to open the inning, and two batters later, Alcides Escobar traded places with him to put the Royals up, 1-0.  With two gone and a runner on third, center fielder Lorenzo Cain punched a ball between first baseman Chris Colabello and second baseman Ryan Goins to put the Monarchs up 2-0 early in the game. Salvador Perez blasted a dinger over the left field wall (his third of the postseason) to increase the lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning.  The deficit remained three runs for Toronto as they could not get anything going against Volquez, who walked four Birds but was able to get out of trouble every time.  Kelvin Herrera hurled a perfect 7th inning in relief and Ryan Madson got out of a two-on one-out jam in the eighth inning.  Kansas City was not satisfied with a 3-0 lead; they tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth courtesy of an Eric Hosmer RBI double and a Kendrys Morales RBI sac fly off of Jays’ LaTroy Hawkins. Luke Hochevar closed out the 5-0 win for the Royals and secured their 5th straight ALCS victory (dating back to the 2014 playoffs).  

3 Stars of the Game:

#3- (KC) SS Alcides Escobar- 2-3, RBI, 2 runs

#2- (KC) C Salvador Perez- 1-3, HR

#1- (KC) SP Edinson Volquez- 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER

The Blue Jays desperately needed to bounce back in game two, and they had the right man on the mound for the job in David Price.  Although Price was 0-6 in his previous postseason starts, manager John Gibbons and the team were confident that Price could get the job done.  Right handed Yordano “Ace” Ventura took the mound for the Royals in an effort to out-duel the veteran Price.  The Jays got on the board in the third inning courtesy of a Kevin Pillar double followed by a Ryan Goins double that put the Blue Birds up 1-0.  The deficit remained 1-0 for the Royals and David Price continued to deal, not allowing a hit since the first inning, when he allowed a first pitch single to Alcides Escobar.  In an effort to supply Price with more run support in the sixth inning, Edwin Encarnacion (playing with an injured finger) singled to left and drove in Josh Donaldson (who had singled earlier in the inning).  The struggling Troy Tulowitzki stepped onto the plate, and promptly booted a ball to right field, scoring Bautista from second and increasing the Blue Jay lead to 3-0. Yordano Ventura finished with 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2BB, 6 SO.

As many baseball fans learned from game four of the Houston series, you can never count the Royals out of any game against any pitcher.  The seventh inning of Saturday’s game was no exception. Coming into the inning, David Price had retired the last 18 Royals that had stepped to the plate, dating back to the first inning.  The inning opened with a blooper off the bat of Ben Zobrist that dropped in for a single thanks to a communication error between second baseman Goins and right fielder Bautista.  Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer each followed with a single, Hosmer’s single scoring Zobrist from second base and moving Cain to third. Now down 3-1, Kendrys Morales produced an RBI groundout to cut the deficit further to 3-2.  With Gibbons feeling confident in Price, he allowed him to stay in the game to face lefty Mike Moustakas.  The “Moose” singled on a line drive to right field and tied the game.  With two outs, and a runner on second base, Alex Gordon laced a double into the right field gap to score Moustakas and give the Royals a 4-3 lead.  Aaron Sanchez came in to relieve the now battered Price (who did not get a quality start despite allowing only one baserunner through 6 innings), but allowed Alex Rios to single and drive in Gordon.  With a quick turnaround and a five run seventh inning, Royals manager Ned Yost called upon Kelvin Herrera to take over the Danny Duffy, who had pitched the seventh inning.  Herrera allowed a one out double but struck out two in the inning and ended the threat fairly easily. The Royals added one insurance run in the eighth thanks to a Moustakas single that scored Eric Hosmer.  With a 6-3 lead in game two, closer Wade Davis was tasked with slamming the door on the offense heavy Blue Birds.  Toronto managed to get two on base and the tying runs at the plate in the forms of Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista; however, Davis did what he does best and struck out Donaldson, and got Bautista to fly out to end the game.

The Royals now take a 2-0 series lead to Toronto for three games.  The Royals offense showed persistence when facing adversity while David Price showed a glimpse of the David Price that Toronto had hoped for, before it was distorted by the five runs he gave up in the seventh inning.  Among all other things, the Blue Jays have yet to hit a home run in this ALCS; the Blue Birds hit 232 dingers in the regular season.  The Royals bullpen continued to be shutdown late in games.  Saturday’s Royals win also ensured the Royals that if Toronto wanted to win the series, they would have to win at least one game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

3 Stars of the Game:

#3- (KC) LF Alex Gordon- 1-3, RBI

#2- (KC) 1B Eric Hosmer- 1-3, RBI, BB, 2 runs

#1- (KC) 3B Mike Moustakas- 2-4, 2 RBI, run

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Written by Dylan Miles

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