The Toronto Blue Jays are still alive.
The Blue Jays beat the Royals, 7-1, in Game 5 of the ALCS on Wednesday to force Game 6 on Friday in Kansas City.
What was the Jays’ attitude going into Game 5? Was it, “We still have a chance in this series,” or was it, “Let’s just win today and worry about the rest later”?
“I think a little bit of both,” Rogers Sportsnet Blue Jays reporter Barry Davis said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “This team is now 4-0 in elimination games and they took that same attitude when they were down two games to nothing against the Texas Rangers in the ALDS, and that is, ‘Listen, can we win a ball game today? Yeah. And if we do, then we move on and we try to win the next one.’ They felt really good going into today’s game with Marco Estrada on the mound, who has very quietly become the Blue Jays’ most reliable pitcher. This is a guy that began the season as a guy who was going to come out of the bullpen or the sixth starter, and he’s very quickly become a huge piece of this Blue Jays team.”
Indeed, Toronto responded about as well as possible after losing Game 4, 14-2.
“I think more than anything they were embarrassed, humiliated, and they came into today’s game with a chip on their shoulder,” Davis said. “They did not want to have that being the lasting memory of the way things transpired for them. It was a lot of circumstances that didn’t got the way they were hoping. When you’ve got a knuckleballer (R.A. Dickey) on the mound, it can go one of two ways – and it’s always going to be that way with a knuckleballer. If it’s floating, there’s a good chance it’s going to get out. If it’s not, it’s going to get hit all over the ball park. Before you knew it, the Jays were down 5-0 and they really could never recover from it.”
The Jays actually had the best record in the AL late in the season but decided to take their foot off the gas and rest their players. The Royals didn’t. Kansas City caught up to Toronto and finished 95-67 – two games better than the Jays’ 93-69.
Are the Blue Jays thinking about that now? About how they could have had home-field advantage in this series and heading back to Toronto for Games 6 and 7?
“Mostly from the fans and the media,” Davis said. “During the last four or five games of the season, John Gibbons decided to rest a lot of his guys. He decided to not use David Price over the last stretch to give him a bit of a rest. Because of that, the Jays ended up losing some games they probably could have won and that may have been the difference in them having home-field advantage. It obviously didn’t affect them in the Texas Rangers’ series since they had home-field against them. They ended up losing their two home games to begin the series, and I think that they felt pretty good in Game 2 against Kansas City because they had a 3-0 lead until the seventh inning until David Price pretty much lost it after the misplayed ball that allowed the Kanas City Royals to get the first runner on in that inning. So they felt that they played very well in that game on the road, and they feel pretty comfortable going into Games 6 and 7 with David Price and Marcus Stroman as their two pitchers.”