KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Blue Jays and Royals have made nice in the leadup to the American League Championship Series. But there is history between the two.
Their last meeting, some 2 1/2 months ago, led to three ejections and the benches clearing. Toronto won the tense Rogers Centre contest 5-2 for a 3-1 sweep of the series.
The game left the Jays, who had just picked up David Price and Tulo Tulowitzki among others at the trade deadline, at 54-52 and triggered an 11-game win streak. Kansas City exited Toronto at 62-42, feeling like they had answered the Jays challenge.
Both teams say the ill-tempered meeting Aug. 2 is history and they don't expect any afters.
"It happened so long ago. And right now so much is at stake," Toronto manager John Gibbons said prior to Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium on Friday. "You get careless out there and you do something stupid, it could cost your team a big game. You're trying to win this thing. I don't anticipate any of that."
Asked if the bad blood might spill into this series, Royals manager Ned Yost said emphatically: "No, I do not."
But he said his team will not shy away from pitching inside to the dangerous Toronto lineup. Asked if that would be an issue, he replied: "I'm not a mind-reader, I'm not a fortune-teller, I don't know if it's going to be an issue.
"We'll pitch inside aggressively. That's a power-laden club over there. We're going to formulate a really good game plan and try to go out and execute."
Edinson Volquez started for the Royals that tense afternoon. As the fates would have it, he will start Game 1 of the ALCS against Toronto's Marco Estrada.
Gibbons, bench coach DeMarlo Hale and Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez were all ejected back in August.
Umpire Jim Wolf warned both teams in the first inning after Volquez hit Josh Donaldson in the shoulder with a changeup that got away. The fiery Jays third baseman had words with the pitcher as he went to first.
Donaldson had to get out of the way of an inside pitch in the third, prompting Gibbons to come out on the field to protest. Donaldson eventually drew a walk, flipped his bat as he left the box, which irked Volquez.
In the seventh, Royals reliever Ryan Madson hit Tulowitzki on the arm. Gibbons was ejected. Donaldson struck out, with words for the umpire. And Jose Bautista doubled in a run, yelling at Madson when he was done.
Sanchez was ejected in the eighth after throwing inside at Alcides Escobar twice, hitting him on the leg the second time. Hale was also tossed with Gibbons complicating matters by returning to the field during the brouhaha.
Yost said after the game that his pitchers were just trying to keep the ball inside and he pointed the finger at the Jays.
"These guys are as good an offensive team as you're going to face. And they've got tremendous power but they all dive into the plate, which makes them susceptible to inside pitches (and) getting hit," he said. "If you continue to throw away, away, away, away, away yeah you're going to get hammered, you're going to get killed. So you have to utilize the inside part of the plate to open up the outside part of the plate and it happens."
Unlike Sanchez, none of his pitches had tried to throw at the opposition batters, he added.
Bautista responded on Twitter: "Just heard #NedYost comments about the game. Lost a lot of respect for that man today.''
Volquez also poured oil on the fire after the game
"He's a little baby," he said of Donaldson. "He was crying like a baby."
But the Dominican was diplomatic at Thursday's meeting with the media.
"It's over with," he said of the bad blood. "We've got to move forward."
Asked how he will handle Donaldson, he said simply: "He's a great hitter."
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