Tonight was the first meeting between the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays since last October’s American League Championship Series. The Blue Jays sent Aaron Sanchez, coming off a spectacular start against Colorado, against Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who had a 6.42 ERA in his last six road starts.
This game was a pitchers dual for six and a half innings. The Jays could only manufacture a run in the first with ground out by Michael Saunders and the Royals run came off a home run in the top of the seventh by Kendrys Morales. However, in the bottom of the seventh, with Volquez’s pitch count over 90, the Jays were able to blow the game open. They would take advantage of Volquez and reliever Luke Hochevar’s wildness to score five runs, highlighted by two-run singles by both Darwin Barney and Josh Donaldson.
A ninth inning solo home run by Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer off of Brett Cecil would be the only other scoring by the Royals on the evening.
Top Play of the Game by WPA
In the top of the seventh, Kendrys Morales, who has been the Royals hottest hitter, led off the inning with the Jays leading 1-0. He proceeded to hit the only mistake thrown by Sanchez, a 3-2 fastball, over the right-centre field fence. This tied the game (momentarily) and increased the Royals win expectancy by 19.6 percentage points.
Bottom Play of the Game by WPA
In the bottom of fourth with runners on first and second and two out, Kevin Pillar lined a single to left field. Jays coach Luis Rivera sent Edwin Encarnacion home to try to extend the Toronto lead. However, Alex Gordon showed why he is one of the best outfielders in the American League and threw a perfect strike to home to just beat Encarnacion. This lowered the Blue Jays’ chances of winning by four percentage points.
Sanchez Being Sanchez
Tonight’s game was the first time the Royals faced Aaron Sanchez as a starter, and they encountered a pitcher who is throwing as good as anyone is in the game today. Sanchez mixed his fastball and deadly curveball to keep the Royals off balance all evening. He pitched eight innings for the second consetuvie start, and tonight do si in front of his parents, who were sitting directly behind home plate. Throwing 96 pitches, he allowed only three hits, one run, one walk, and notched three strike outs. Besides the home run by Morales, no Royals batter reached second base. This was his eighth straight victory and he continues to make it harder for the Jays decision makers that are considering moving him to the bullpen. Oh, and he had the flu tonight as well.
The Blue Jays will try to extend their winning streak to four games tomorrow night as they continue the series with the Royals. Kansas City will send Chris Young (2-7, 6.24 ERA), who has struggled on the road with an 8.53 ERA, against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (5-9, 4.21 ERA), who has a 3.32 ERA over the last two months. First pitch at the Rogers Centre at 7:07 p.m. EST.
Lead Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports