The Toronto Blue Jays survived elimination from the American League Championship Series (ALCS) Wednesday with a convincing 7-1 victory against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals, who now lead the seven-match series 3-2, will get two attempts to close out the series in front of their home fans.
Marco Estrada is making a habit of coming through when Blue Jays are in do-or-die situations. On Wednesday, he was once against the star of the show with an impeccable pitching performance that saw Royals batters limited to only one hit over seven innings, besides three over 7 2/3 innings. This was the second time this postseason that Estrada has kept Blue Jays alive and kicking.
Toronto Manager John Gibbons credited Estrada for forcing Game 6. “Everything he threw up there was right where he wanted it. He had everything going,” said Gibbons. “He’s sticking that fastball, nice little curveball, and his overpowering changeup. He shut down a good-hitting, hot team.”
Estrada, 32, retired the first nine Royals batters he faced. He only conceded a single in the fourth, which was swiftly erased by a double play, and a two-out walk in the seventh in the first seven innings before retiring 21 of 22. Estrada exited in the eighth to a standing ovation. He thanked the passionate fans for pulling him through. “It’s been a while since I pitched here, and I forgot how great our fans were. It was pretty loud today. I had a lot of adrenaline going.”
Royals manager Ned Yost conceded that his team had no shot against Estrada. “Today he was absolutely dynamite. He didn’t miss spots. His changeup was fantastic. He just didn’t give us anything to hit.”
The teams will now head to Kauffman Stadium Friday for Game 6. There will be a Game 7 on Saturday, if needed.