Marco Estrada, Blue Jays down Royals to force Game 6 in ALCS
Righty pitches masterpiece, Tulowitzki rips bases-clearing double
Marco Estrada can count on striking it rich as a free agent in the off-season. Wherever he ends up, the Blue Jays will still owe him big-time.
For the second time in the post-season, the 32-year-old right-hander kept Toronto alive, this time with a gem of a pitching performance in a 7-1 win over Kansas City on Wednesday that forced a sixth game in their American League Championship Series.
Estrada was near flawless in limiting the Royals to one hit over seven innings and three over 7 2/3 innings.
"Everything he threw up there was right where he wanted it," said Toronto manager John Gibbons.
"He had everything going," he added. "He's sticking that fastball, nice little curveball, and his overpowering changeup. He shut down a good-hitting, hot team."
Today he was absolutely dynamite. ... His changeup was fantastic. He just didn't give us anything to hit.- Royals manager Ned Yost on Blue Jays winning pitcher Marco Estrada
Estrada retired the first nine Kansas City batters he faced. A single in the fourth, promptly erased by a double play, and a two-out walk in the seventh were the only blemishes on his pitching line in the first seven innings as he retired 21 of 22.
He exited in the eighth to a standing ovation after giving up a two-out solo homer to Salvador Perez followed by a single to Alex Gordon.
"Today he was absolutely dynamite," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "He didn't miss spots. His changeup was fantastic. He just didn't give us anything to hit."
Royals hold edge
The Royals still hold an edge going home, leading the best-of-seven series 3-2. The teams go at it Friday in Kauffman Stadium (8:07 p.m. ET), with Toronto's David Price likely facing Yordano Ventura in a rematch of Game 2, won 6-3 by the Royals.
Game 7 is Saturday, if needed.
It's been a while since I pitched here, and I forgot how great our fans were.- Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada
Troy Tulowitzki drove in three runs in a four-run Toronto sixth and Chris Colabello contributed a solo homer in the second before a loud crowd of 49,325 under the dome at the Rogers Centre.
"It's been a while since I pitched here, and I forgot how great our fans were," said Estrada. "It was pretty loud today. I had a lot of adrenalin going."
Estrada, who came to Toronto last November in a trade that send Adam Lind to Milwaukee, has delivered unexpected dividends for the Jays.
His spring training interrupted by a rolled ankle and with the focus on prospect Daniel Norris, the prognosis seemed a possible role in the bullpen. Instead Estrada, who is making $3.9 million US this season as he heads to free agency, became a key member of the rotation.
In June, he took no-hitters into the eighth inning in back-to-back starts. And he led the majors after the all-star break by limiting opposition hitters to batting .183.
"He's pitched like that all year," said Gibbons.
Estrada is the first Toronto pitcher to throw seven consecutive shutout innings in a post-season game since Jimmy Key in Game 4 of the 1992 World Series.
Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who had a fine outing in Game 1 to beat Estrada, was almost as good Wednesday, retiring 15 of the first 18 batters he faced. But he unravelled in the sixth, walking three Jays and hitting another with a pitch while unable to get an out.