Royals host Blue Jays in Game 1 of ALCS
Toronto's Estrada, Kansas City's Volquez will take mound in Game 1
The last time the Toronto Blue Jays and the Royals met, batters were thrown at, benches cleared and there were suspensions.
The two teams in this fiery rivalry are now battling for the American League pennant, beginning with Game 1 tonight (8:07 p.m. ET) in Kansas City.
Toronto had to battle back from an 0-2 series deficit, and some controversy in Game 5, against the Texas Rangers earlier this week. But the Jays finally they made it to their first AL Championship Series in 22 years.
Kansas City had an equally tough road to the ALCS, beating the Houston Astros in five games — a series that featured the Royals erasing a four-run deficit in the eighth inning during Game 4.
The Blue Jays finally got their power going in the final three games of the AL Division Series, highlighted by Jose Bautista's dramatic three-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 5 on Wednesday.
Kansas City struggled to score at the beginning of their series, but had no trouble piling up the runs with its season on the line, putting up 14 in the final 11 innings against the Astros after totaling 11 in the previous 34 frames.
The Royals, with the best record in the AL, beat out Toronto by one game for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and are ready to take a step up in competition.
"We try to do the best we can against every team, and we all know Toronto is a better team than Houston," Royals Game 1 starter Edinson Volquez told reporters. "They've got more veteran guys and more power hitters."
The bad blood between Toronto and Kansas City goes back to an Aug. 2 game in Toronto. Volquez hit Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, then called him a "little baby." Tensions continued to rise, which led to Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez drilling Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar in the eighth inning, and both benches clearing.
Sanchez was suspended three games for the incident, and Blue Jays manager was suspended one game for returning to the field after being ejected.
The Blue Jays won the regular-season series (4-3) against the Royals.
Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (1-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. Royals RH Edinson Volquez (0-1, 4.76)
Estrada picked up right where he left off after a strong regular season and held Texas to one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings to earn a win in Game 3 of the ALDS. The 32-year-old pitcher allowed three or fewer earned runs in 13 of his last 14 starts, and did not walk a batter in either of his last two turns. Estrada lost his only start against the Royals this season, surrendering two runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings at Kansas City on July 10.
Volquez allowed three runs on five hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings and lost Game 3 of the ALDS to the Astros on Sunday. The native of the Dominican Republic is 0-3 with an 8.76 ERA in three career post-season starts, and has yet to complete six innings in the playoffs. Volquez has an 0-4 record against the Jay and a 6.76 ERA in six career starts.
- Royals DH Kendrys Morales homered three times among five hits in the ALDS.
- Toronto SS Troy Tulowitzki (shoulder) went 2-for-21 in the ALDS.
- Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas, who homered twice in the ALCS sweep last season, went 2-for-18 against Houston.
With files from SportsDirect Inc.