TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Blue Jays blasted their way back into the American League championship Series with an 11-8 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the home side delivering a landslide victory on election day in Canada.
Trailing 2-0 after losses in Kansas City, the Blue Jays returned to the Roger Centre’s hitter-friendly confines and got a three-run blast from Troy Tulowitzki and a two-run shot from Josh Donaldson in a six-run third inning to open a 9-2 lead.
Ryan Goins added a solo homer in the fifth for the Blue Jays, who will host Game Four of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday.
”That’s really what we are all about (hitting),“ Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters. ”We desperately needed that breakout.
“The home run ball, which we are known for, was a huge part of the game.”
With the country’s attention divided between electing a new prime minister and the baseball playoffs, the Blue Jays stepped out into a raucous arena knowing full well the task that awaited them if they were to fall further behind.
Only once in Major League history has a team, the 2004 Boston Red Sox, clawed their way out of 0-3 hole .
The situation, however, was not completely unfamiliar for the Blue Jays, who dropped the opening two games of the best-of-five AL Division Series to the Texas Rangers before storming back to sweep the next three, but it was a high wire act that Toronto and their fans were not eager to walk.
The most lethal hitting team in baseball, the Blue Jay bats have been boom or bust in the postseason and on Monday they were firing on all cylinders, cranking out 11 hits.
The Royals, however, were the first to get busy with Alcides Escobar tagging Toronto starter Marcus Stroman for a first inning leadoff triple then scoring on a Ben Zobrist groundout to grab a 1-0 lead.
But Toronto hit right back, rattling Royals starter Johnny Cueto for three runs in the second to match the total they scored in the first two games of the series.
”You’re hoping somewhere, at the two-inning mark, you’re just hoping that he (Cueto) can make that adjustment,“ Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”Tonight he just couldn‘t.
“Now we’ve got two more games here, we can go ahead and pour the coals on them.”
Toronto would tag on six more runs in that decisive third inning to chase Cueto from the game and continued to bludgeon Kansas City’s pitching by building an 11-4 lead before the Royals pushed across four consolation runs in the ninth.
”It is the same every single day in the club house,“ said Stroman, after picking up his first postseason win. ”You could not tell if we’re down 0-2 or up 2-0.
“What we have is extremely special the confidence that everybody has... just looking forward to keeping it going.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury/John O'Brien