Column: Blue Jays refuse to quit against Kansas City

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista watches his RBI double against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Toronto. (Matt Slocum/AP)

For the past few weeks, I have focused heavily on the National League, giving no attention to the American League.

With the Mets winning the National League Championship Series in their four-game sweep against the Cubs, I’ll turn my attention to the American League, where the Toronto Blue Jays kept themselves alive against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday evening.

The Royals led the series 3-1, meaning they had the opportunity to win the American League Championship Series and head to the World Series. But the Jays refused to go down. In fact, Toronto absolutely demolished the Royals, reminding Kansas City: It ain’t over till it’s over.

The Blue Jays have had a tough time this postseason, starting with their battle against the Rangers. Down two games and facing elimination, the Jays dug their way out, winning three straight to come out on top in the American League Division Series.

Again facing elimination, this time in the championship series, the Blue Jays found a way to hang on. Marco Estrada was a huge factor in the Jays 7-1 victory in Toronto. For the first six innings, Estrada faced the minimum number of batters, keeping his pitch count low. Estrada went through 7.2 innings giving up just three hits. Salvador Perez homered in the eighth inning for Kansas City’s only run and Estrada’s only miscue of the night. With 108 pitches, Estrada helped calm the nerves of manager John Gibbons, who had few relief pitchers to choose from.

The previous two games had worn out Blue Jays pitchers, as the Royals scored 22 runs combined in the third and fourth games. Liam Hendriks, Ryan Tepera and Mark Lowe were all unavailable Wednesday, leaving Gibbons with the option of putting in Aaron Sanchez, Robert Osuna or the ace David Price.

The last option would have seriously weakened the Jays for the remainder of the series, as Price was (and is now) set to pitch in Game Six. So, with that said and Game Six approaching, who’s going to be heading to the World Series?

The fact that the Blue Jays plowed through the Royals, without Price, says a lot. Toronto needed to do two things: first and most importantly, win, and second, get by with using the minimal amount of relief pitchers. The Jays did just that, keeping them rested and ready to go for the next game of the series. Right-hander Yordano Ventura will start for the Royals Friday. Ventura pitched in Game Two, giving up eight hits, three runs.

In Friday’s matchup, I’m taking the Jays to tie the series. In the end, I’m going with the Royals to meet up with the Mets. The 2014 AL champions are simply better than Toronto and with two home games to end the series; their odds are looking good. Despite the Jays outstanding fight against elimination, they’ve been out-played this series. Then again, it’s been a whacky series with each win being a total domination for either team.


Molly Burkhardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mary.burkhardt@uconn.edu.