Behind a solid start and some big hits, the KC Royals took Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, 5-0 over visiting Toronto.
Both starters matched zero for zero over the first two innings before the Royals broke through against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada in the bottom of the third. Alex Gordon led off the inning with a double and scored on an Alcides Escobar one out double (Esky led off the bottom of the first with a first pitch double). With two outs, Lorenzo Cain extended his postseason hitting streak to ten games with an RBI single.
The Royals made it 3-0 in the fourth on a Salvador Perez home run.
Meanwhile, Royals starter Edinson Volquez, throwing consistently much harder than he has all season, did not allow his first hit until there were two outs in the fourth (a Chris Colabello single).
Heading into the sixth, Volquez had allowed just two hits and walked two. However, he got into trouble by walking the first two batters of the 6th inning. After a coaching visit, Volquez went back to his fastball and escaped the jam unscathed (though he did throw 37 pitches).
That was all for Volquez and in came Kelvin Herrera, who threw just nine pitches in his perfect 7th inning. Oh and he struck out two, with his final pitch topping 100 mph.
Instead of sticking with Herrera, manager Ned Yost went to Ryan Madson, and his struggles in both the postseason and against Toronto continued. Thankfully, Madson did not allow a run, but threw 18 pitches. With one out, Josh Donaldson singled and Jose Bautista walked. Pinch-hitter Justin Smoak (batting for the now injured Edwin Encarnacion) popped up the 2-0 changeup before Colabello grounded out sharply to second.
The Royals tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth against veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, as Eric Hosmer doubled in a run (he just missed a home run) and Kendrys Morales followed with a sac fly.
If you are wondering why a righty faced the lefty hitting Hosmer, the Blue Jays used their lone lefty reliever, Aaron Loup, in the sixth when he induced an inning ending double play on the second pitch he threw to Mike Moustakas.
With the five-run lead, there was no need to go to closer Wade Davis, especially with a game tomorrow afternoon, so Yost went to Luke Hochevar, who has good numbers this season against the Blue Jays. Hochevar worked around an error to close out the game.
The Royals take the 1-0 ALCS lead into Saturday afternoon, as Yordano Ventura faces David Price.
The Royals and their fans will be holding their breath, as Perez receives x-rays on his hand after being hit by Donaldson’s back swing. He was visibly in pain the rest of the game, but seemed okay after (he even dumped the water cooler on Volquez).