Baseball is a grueling and often heartbreaking sport. A game can change at any instance, and that change could prove to be the last of the game. It’s a game of hoping and waiting, and many fans will tell you that they sit on the edge of their seat for most of the game. The Blue Jays have embodied these aspects of baseball this year, and in doing so, they’ve changed.
Not only did they transform themselves into the most formidable offense that baseball has seen in years, but unlike years past, they are constantly playing. No matter the deficit, when you watch the Blue Jays, you feel like they always have a chance. Last night’s game had many implications; a loss would have put Toronto against an even bigger wall than they faced in the ALDS against Texas. A win however, changed everything.
In Kansas, the Royals pitching stifled the Blue Jays. Something that the Jays, and the fans, are not used to seeing. The Jays were hitting the ball, they just weren’t capitalizing on their base runners. This was even more frustrating as Volquez and Ventura pitched like they seldom have before. Both were brilliant at times, and went longer into the game than they did in most of their regular season starts.
Before facing Johnny Cueto last night, one had to wonder which Cueto we’d see. The lights out NL CY Young runner-up from last year, one the Royals got a good look at during their ALDS. Or, instead, would it be the mind-numbingly mediocre Cueto that the Royals got for most of the season. Fortunately for us, we got the latter, and the Jays hammered out a win that should have been nowhere as close as the final score suggests.
Now the Blue Jays have more than a legitimate chance at evening the series, as two veterans and former teammates match up against each other. Chris Young will get the ball for the Royals tonight, and though he’s been serviceable all season, he’s not the type of pitcher that will carry a club. Dickey however, has been lights out since August and was fantastic in his limited start against the Rangers in Game 4 of the ALDS.
If he’s the front line starter he has been all second half, then the Jays have a huge chance in changing momentum. Not a bad ball club when your 4th pitcher has put up the numbers Dickey has recently. With Medlin most likely on the shelf, if the Jays can get to Young early, they will get to face off against a bullpen that has seen its fair share of work. Most of their pen consists of one inning arms matchup experts, who could have difficulties pitching for longer periods of time.
In Game 3 of the ALDS, where Troy Tulowitzki’s homer was a resounding statement that the Jays bats were back, his long ball sparked an offensive outburst, and hopefully Toronto will be able to use the momentum and keep going, just as they did in the ALDS. If the Blue Jays took game one to make the necessary adjustments, you can bet that they’ll be scoring more than a trio of runs on their return trip to KC.
With a pair of less desirable starts from Estrada and Price out of the way, an improved offense increases their chances of a bounce back effort. Furthermore, the Royals will need similar levels of production from Ventura and Volquez, whose quality generally fluctuates from start to start. Last night indicated that the Jays have made the adjustments necessary to combat Kansas City’s pitching and defense. The Jays have established a momentum they could ride to the World Series. If you draw any parallels between the ALDS and the ALCS so far, it should be that the Jays don’t quit, they never back down, and they are never far behind.