ALCS: Blue Jays excited to be home for Game 3
Toronto — Hip-hop music blared over the loudspeakers in an eerily empty, moodily lit Rogers Centre as Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays went through an easy workout on an off-day in the American League Championship Series.
With their backs against the wall again, there’s no place they’d rather be.
“We’re down 2-0 right now, we’ve got three games at home. These guys here, they’re comfortable and we’ve definitely got the crowd behind us,” outfielder Ben Revere said Sunday. “We definitely feel much more comfortable being back at home.”
After Kansas City took the first two games at home, Game 3 is in Toronto tonight. First pitch is set for 8:07 p.m. The Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman faces the Royals’ Johnny Cueto in a matchup of two Division Series Game 5 starters.
“This series is not over, not even close,” Lorenzo Cain, center fielder for the defending AL champion Royals, said after testing the bounce of the turf and the glare of the light in the closed-roofed stadium.
The Blue Jays advanced to the ALCS with a win that featured one of the most bizarre innings in postseason history. Bautista capped that seventh inning with a monster home run — and equally big bat toss.
That was the last long ball the top slugging team in baseball this year has hit.
Toronto relied heavily on the home run as it overcame the New York Yankees to win the East and it connected for 123 of its 232 homers this year at home. It then slugged its way to three straight wins over Texas after losing the first two at home in the ALDS.
In the chilly air of Kansas City, the Blue Jays scored just three runs and went deep not once.
Now, they are more than ready to play in front of another raucous crowd that has filled their ballpark — and got rowdy in the deciding Game 5 against Texas. So much so, security should be beefed up for the ALCS.
No more deep alleys of Kauffman Stadium where their drives died. No more unfriendly fans who played tricks with Ryan Goins on the fly ball that changed the tenor of Game 2, setting off a five-run rally that led to a 6-3 come-from-behind win for the Royals.
“Kansas City’s park is really big,” Revere said. “Some of the balls we were hitting there, they were going nowhere. Now we’re back home, some of those balls that were crushed are going to go over the heads or go in the gaps more.”
Of course, the Blue Jays will have to figure out a way to beat Cueto and his multitude of pitches. The Royals dreadlocked, trade-deadline acquisition from the Cincinnati Reds has found his dominant form after struggling in late summer. He gave up two runs in eight innings against Houston in Game 5 of the Division Series.
“He’s just a guy that is constantly trying to change your timing at the plate,” Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar said.
Around the horn
Royals manager Ned Yost has chosen Chris Young over Kris Medlen as his starter for Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday.
Young has made only two starts since July 28, but they were good ones. He allowed one run in 111/3 innings over those two outings, with his final start coming Oct. 2.
“He’s got really good numbers against these guys,” Yost said. “They’re both great choices, but, you know, Chris Young, his last two starts of the year were really, really good for us. We feel like he gives us a good chance to win.”
... Fox said Sunday it has hired Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez as a guest analyst for the remainder of the ALCS and the World Series. He is to start today, joining pregame and postgame shows that include Pete Rose, Frank Thomas and Raul Ibanez.