Royally spanked: Blue Jays clobbered in Game 4
TORONTO – They’ve been in this dire circumstance before, but this time you have to wonder where the answers are to be found for the Blue Jays.
The Kansas City Royals rebounded from an 11-8 loss on Monday night, slicing and dicing the fluttery offerings of R.A. Dickey en route to a 14-2 thumping Tuesday, leaving K.C. a win away from advancing to its second consecutive World Series.
With a threadbare relief staff to back up Dickey, the Blue Jays needed a solid seven or eight innings from their veteran knuckleballer. What they got was five outs and a world of hurt.
Toronto chewed its way through four relief pitchers and finished the game with reserve infielder Cliff Pennington on the mound for the final out.
The Royals erupted for four runs in the first inning and another in the second, chasing Dickey with two outs in the second. Liam Hendriks held the line with four and a third scoreless innings but Kansas City shredded LaTroy Hawkins and Ryan Tepera for four runs in the seventh inning to seal the deal.
The Royals now lead 3-1 in the series and have three opportunities in the next four days to make the kill shot.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, embark on a gauntlet of elimination games that, if successful, stretches from Wednesday through Saturday, with a blessed day off on Thursday. For now, the club’s future is nine innings of baseball Wednesday afternoon, and they must sort through the residue of this latest loss and cobble together a way to get through it.
MORE GAME 4 COVERAGE:
The Jays were in this same kind of hole in the ALDS against Texas when they lost the first two games at home, then won the last three, two of them on the road. But the Toronto bullpen is a hot mess just now, with a couple of exceptions.
Ben Zobrist and Alex Rios both hit home runs for Kansas City, to lead their eight-hit attack.
The Blue jays managed just five hits off Chris Young and friends. Young started and last 4.2 innings before giving way to Luke Hochevar. The baton eventually passed through the hands of Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, without any serious threat at the back end of the Royals’ lockdown bullpen.
The Jays mounted a short-lived two-run rally in the third inning but the offence faded away as quickly as it appeared.
Dickey threw his first pitch at 4:08 p.m. and, for all practical purposes, this game was over by 4:11 when he threw his fourth pitch. Two pitches into the contest, Alcides Escobar was on first base with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line. Two pitches after that, Escobar was waiting at the plate to congratulate Zobrist who had clubbed a two-run home run. Lorenzo Cain walked, then stole second. Eric Hosmer singled. With Kendrys Morales at the plate, a Dickey knuckleball sailed over Russell Martin’s glove, allowing Cain to score the third run. Morales then grounded out to second, scoring Hosmer to make it 4-0.
In the second inning, with one out, Rios homered to left-centre to make it 5-0. One out later, Escobar was hit by a pitch and then Cain walked for the second time and that was it for Dickey.
Hendriks came out of the pen and got out of the inning without throwing a pitch when he picked Escobar off second.
Toronto got two runs back in the third inning. Ryan Goins started the rally with a single flared into left, Toronto’s first hit of the game. Ben Revere walked and then Josh Donaldson lined a double that hopped the fence in left, scoring Revere. When Jose Bautista grounded out to second base, Revere scored without a play but that’s where the rally ended.
Typically, the Royals manufactured a four-run rally in the seventh and and three more runs in the eighth, employing three sacrifice flies, three RBI singles, and a wild pitch to get the runs across.