Must Win Can Turn The Tides In The ALCS
What a difference one night’s sleep makes. The Toronto Blue Jays came back to the Rogers Centre down two games in the ALCS and played a typical Jays game, scoring runs in bunches, thanks in part to the long ball that has powered their offense all season. They had been down two games to none to the Texas Ranger and came back to win three straight to win the series, and they had just put themselves in another 0–2 hole. Things were looking optimistic after Monday night’s decisive game three victory. The final score was 11–8, however, the game was not as close as the box score would lead you to believe.
The Jays offensive juggernaut went to work early in Monday nights contest, scoring nine runs after three innings, including six in a long third inning, highlighted by a three run homerun from Troy Tulowitzki. The game seemed to be set on cruise control from that point on as the innings sped by. The only real blemish was a four spot giving up by the bullpen in the ninth to bring the Royals within three. Roberto Osuna gave up a monster two run homer to Kendrys Morales in the ninth, before finishing out the game. The homerun was probably the best thing for Osuna, as he has given up a few big blasts late in games this year, but seems to settle down immediately afterwards. I was somewhat relieved by the homerun as Osuna still had a three run lead and no more runners on base to worry about.
Of course, when you give the Royals an inch, they will run with it as was evident in game 2 after the fly ball that fell between Bautista and Goins opened the flood gates. The Royals are a great team, and that seems to be lost in the panic that has befallen Jays fans around the country. Some say the Jays are inexperienced in the postseason and they are choking under pressure. What I see is a relentless offense that will run, hit, steal, manufacture runs and hit the long ball, all in the same inning. Only a short year ago, the Royals, who’s roster is primarily the same this year, went to game seven of the World Series and came within one swing of winning it all. Unfortunately for them, World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner had other ideas. The Royals are an exciting team. They built their team to compete in the American League, with a National League mentality. They have a team full of exceptional athletes, have one of the best defenses in the league, they can hit, and run, and they struck out the fewest of any team this season. They are relentless and fundamentally sound, much like the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League, only a heck of a lot more entertaining to watch.
“They have power, they have great pitching, and they’re going up to Toronto. They’re relentless up there and almost impossible to beat up there.”
Down three games to one, it is of course an uphill battle for the Jays to come back in this series, but it is by no means impossible. They play one more game at the Rogers Centre today where they have been deadly all season. Just ask Alex Rodriguez who had this to say after the Jays lost the first two games of the series. “They have power, they have great pitching, and they’re going up to Toronto. They’re relentless up there and almost impossible to beat up there.” That is pretty high praise from one of the best hitters of all time, who has been to Toronto a few times before as a division rival. If the Jays can win game 5, the Royals should definitely be concerned. The Jays would have David Price and Marcus Stroman on the hill for games 6 and 7 should they get there, and they will keep the Jays in the game. I do not put much stock into Price’s playoff record, for those who think that he chokes under pressure. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is another ace pitcher who has not faired well in the postseason, however, knowing what they are capable of, the types of games that they have pitched their entire careers, I wouldn’t want anyone else on the mound in a must win game, and the Jays players have full confidence in him.
Edison Volquez will be on the mound for KC in game 5, trying to duplicate his game 1 dominance of the Jays. This will be a tough task for him on the road in Rogers Centre. The Jays, and in particular Josh Donaldson would love nothing more than to put up crooked numbers early in the contest. The Royals and Jays final regular season meeting at Rogers Centre this year saw tensions boil over into a bench clearing brawl. Afterwards, Volquez called out Donaldson saying he was a cry baby. The Jays don’t need any more motivation to win, because this is the ALCS and if you’re not already motivated, you wouldn’t be playing, but beating Volquez and sending the series back to KC with Price and Stroman ready to go should get the fires burning red hot.
Expect a loud and raucous Rogers Centre crowd and a tense edge of your seat game. The Royals are relentless and you cannot count them out until the final out is made, but the very same thing is true of the Blue Jays, and they will not bow out without a fight. They are tough, Tulo and Encarnacion are playing hurt. You can see the grimace of pain from Tulo when he swings and misses, but he and the Jays will play through anything at this point to keep their season alive. Do not give up hope yet, Jays fans. This is the beauty of baseball, there is no clock to run out, and anything is possible as long as there is still one out left in the ninth.