Here is how ugly things were for the Blue Jays tonight: Cliff Pennington, the Jays’ utility infielder, came in to pitch in the ninth. According to Elias he became the first exclusive position player to pitch in the postseason, and it went about as well as expected. In one-third of an inning Pennington gave up two singles, letting two inherited runners score.
The Royals opened the game with three runs before RA Dickey could get a single out, and he was pulled after an Alex Rios home run made it 5-0, lasting fewer than two innings. Liam Hendriks gave the Blue Jays 4.2 scoreless, necessary innings, but things went south again as LaTroy Hawkins and Ryan Tepera combined to give up seven runs in 1.2 innings. When Mark Lowe struggled in the ninth, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons figured he couldn’t continue burning through relievers in a game his team was losing 12-2, and called on Pennington.
The Royals offense has been ridiculous, batting .331 in the ALCS. Even in last night’s loss, they pushed across eight runs. They had one of the league’s better offenses this season, but not this good.
Much of the improvement has come through leadoff batter Alcides Escobar, who hit just .257 this season. He’s batting .600 in the ALCS, and .417 for the postseason. He opened the game tonight with a surprise bunt single—marking the fourth consecutive game leading off with a hit—and plated four runs, two on sacrifices. Escobar is playing absolutely out of his mind, and it seems to be extending down the entire Royals lineup.
Tomorrow the Blue Jays will hand the ball to Marco Estrada, down 3-1 and needing him to save their season. With the Blue Jays bats’ non-existent except for in Game 3, he better pitch a hell of a game.
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