For the first two-thirds of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the visiting Blue Jays looked like they were going to pull out a split on the road behind their rental ace David Price. The Royals had other ideas, however, putting together a five-run rally in the seventh to ruin what had been a brilliant outing by Price and take a 2–0 lead in the series with a 6–3 win.
Here are three quick thoughts on the Royals’ come-from-behind victory:
In the classic Baseball Bugs short, the brutish Gas-House Gorillas hit line drive after line drive off the meek Tea Totallers, forming a conga line around the bases. No one would mistake the 2015 Kansas City Royals, a team that was 14th in the American League in home runs, with those cartoon Gorillas, but they have shown a knack this postseason for staging come-from-behind rallies with a similar conga-line feel. They did it in the eighth inning of Game 4 against the Astros, overcoming a 6–2 deficit with a season-saving rally that started with five straight singles, and they did it again against the Blue Jays on Saturday evening in the seventh inning.
With the Royals trailing 3–0, Ben Zobrist led off with a pop-up to shallow rightfield on the first pitch he saw from Price. Second baseman Ryan Goins had a bead on the ball and waived off charging rightfielder Jose Bautista only to duck out of the way at the last moment. The ball dropped for what was ruled a single, and the conga line was on. Lorenzo Cain singled. Eric Hosmer singled in Zobrist. Kendrys Morales drove in Cain with a groundout, with Hosmer preventing a double play by running with the pitch. Mike Moustakas singled to tie the game and went to second on the wild throw home from Bautista. After Salvador Perez struck out, Alex Gordon doubled home Moustakas, driving Price from the game. The first batter reliever Aaron Sanchez faced, ninth-place hitter Alex Rios, singled home Gordon. Eight batters, six hits, five singles, five runs and the Royals went from being one-hit to handing their shut-down bullpen a two-run lead in the eighth.
The Price is wrong
That inning was a brutal change of course for Price, who entered this game with a poor postseason track record, then spent the first six innings appearing to put it all behind him. Price allowed a first-pitch single to Alcides Escobar, then retired the next 18 men he faced until Goins turned that pop-out into a single to start the seventh. For six innings, Price was dominant, needing just 66 pitches to get through those first six frames, 49 of them (74%) strikes. Then it all fell apart.
Grasping at straws
Given that they were held to just three runs in this game and saw their ace struggle yet again (Price has a 7.01 ERA after three appearances this postseason), there were few positives for the Blue Jays to take from this game. Still, Troy Tulowitzki, who has been nursing a cracked scapula, broke an 0-for-12 slump by going 2 for 4 with an RBI double, and Edwin Encarnacion, who came out of Game 1 after re-injuring the middle finger on his left hand and had a cortisone shot after that game, not only started, but also went 2 for 4 with an RBI single of his own. The Jays also made Kansas City’s sure-thing closer Wade Davis work in the ninth inning, bringing the tying run to the plate after a Kevin Pillar single and walk to pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington to start the ninth inning (Davis then retired the top three men in the Toronto lineup in order). It’s not a lot, but with the series heading back to their offense-friendly home ballpark, the Blue Jays can cling to those signs of life from the heart of their order as they hope to keep their season alive.