The knuckleball refused to dance. Position players were pitching. It was a one-sided match that many Toronto Blue Jays fans want to forget.
The Kansas City Royals were all over R.A. Dickey from the first pitch of the ball game. His 1.2 innings of work was the shortest outing of any Blue Jays pitcher in postseason history, and is just a small tidbit in a 14-2 rout of Toronto.
Four runs crossed the plate before any of the seats were warm. Kevin Pillar would have had to buy a ticket to catch a Ben Zobrist two-run shot in the first. The Royals posted four runs and continued to pack it on from there.
The Blue Jays were able to tack on a couple of runs against 6’10” right-hander Chris Young, but the Kansas City bullpen shut the potent offense down the rest of the way.
It wasn’t the same story in the opposite dugout.
LaTroy Hawkins, who has yet to pitch a scoreless inning in the postseason, is in the last year of his career and likely threw his final pitches tonight. He slowly trudged off of the mound with a postseason ERA of 37.80 after giving up three earned runs in part of a four-run seventh inning. Ryan Tepera and Mark Lowe were charged with six runs combined, while infielder Cliff Pennington became the first position player to make a pitching appearance in the postseason.
Liam Hendriks got the ball in a difficult situation and delivered. Down 5-0 coming out of the bullpen in the second inning, it was his responsibility to keep a strong Royals team off the board. His 4.1 shutout innings was the longest outing of his career. He allowed one hit and had Kansas City guessing. His tight curveball spun with late life and had the opposition off balance. For a moment, the sold out crowd at the Rogers Centre had something to cheer about. But only for a moment.
Alcides Escobar has been playing out of his mind in the American League Championship Series. The career .262 hitter has thrived under the microscope of the playoffs, and tonight was no different. The shortstop was 7-for-12 coming into game four, crossing the plate five times. He has been a nightmare for the Blue Jays, continuing his dominance and adding to his seven-game hit streak, holding a .417 postseason average. The 28-year-old has also been a vital part of their defense, which has made only one error in over 271 chances.
Kansas City Offense
Coming into the series, all the talk was about Toronto and how they could generate offense unlike any other team in the league. But it has been the Kansas City offense, up and down the lineup, that has been out-working and out-hitting the big guns of the Blue Jays. The Royals have Toronto with their backs against the wall and have outscored them in the ALCS by a margin of 33-16.
Against the Ropes
Tomorrow will be the second time this postseason that Jose Bautista and his team will play for the improbable comeback. Marco Estrada will get the ball, but it was Marcus Stroman who said before the game that their clubhouse has never been closer, despite the score in the series. In 1985, it was a complete role reversal, with the Blue Jays up 3-1 in the ALCS. Kansas City would come from behind against Dave Stieb in game 7, so something of this magnitude has been done before. Game five will be a rematch. Edinson Volquez, who “felt sexy” in game one, will go to the mound for the Royals.