KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals, denied by David Price for six innings, rallied for five runs in the seventh to stun the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3 Saturday and take a commanding 2-0 lead in their American League Championship series.
It was a remarkable turnaround to a game that Toronto seemed to have well in command with Price retiring a franchise post-season record 18 in a row after seeing his first pitch slammed into right for a single by Alcides Escobar.
Then the worm turned.
Staked to a 3-0 lead by one run in the third and two in the sixth, Price was cruising until a seventh-inning fielding miscue ended his streak of outs and opened the door for the Royals, who took advantage by sending nine to the plate.
A miscommunication between Jose Bautista and Ryan Goins on a leadoff popup allowed Ben Zobrist to reach first as the ball dropped to the right-field turf between the two Jays, who looked at each other as if to say 'What just happened?"
Lorenzo Cain singled to put men on first and second, extending his post-season hitting streak to 11 games to tie the Royals' record. Eric Hosmer then singled in Zobrist and Cain scored on a Kendrys Morales' groundout. Mike Moustakas' single made it 3-3 bringing the sellout crowd of 40,357 to its feet.
One out later, Alex Gordon doubled home Moustakas to take the lead. That chased Price but the scoreboard kept turning with Alex Rios' RBI single off reliever Aaron Sanchez.
Price threw 66 pitches over the first six innings, then 30 in 2/3 of the seventh. He gave up five runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in a 96-pitch outing that included 70 strikes.
The Royals added another run in the eighth on three walks and a single off Sanchez and Aaron Loup.
Wade Davis made life interesting in the ninth, giving up a single to Kevin Pillar and walking pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington before closing the door by striking out Ben Revere, Josh Donaldson and inducing Bautista to fly out.
The best-of-seven series switches back to Toronto on Monday when Marcus Stroman and Rangers ace Johnny Cueto face off in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series at the Rogers Centre
The Royals opened the series with a comprehensive 5-0 win Friday night, marking just the third time in 47 career post-season games that the Jays had been shut out. Toronto's three hits were also a franchise playoff low for a team that led the majors this season in runs, home runs, total bases and slugging percentage.
Since the best-of-seven series was adopted in 1985, the team that has won Game 2 of the ALC has advanced to the World Series 23 times in 29 series (79 per cent) including 14 of the last 16.
The Royals are the 26th team in LCS history (AL and NL) to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. All but three of the previous 25 advanced to the World Series.
The Jays have shown they can dig themselves out of a hole, however, rallying from an 0-2 start to beat the Texas Rangers 3-2 in the ALDS. But they will need a bigger shovel this time.
Price, a Cy Young candidate again after an 18-5 mark this season, came into the game with a 2-6 post-season record but 0-6 as an a starter with a 5.23 ERA and .265 opponents' average. He lost Game 1 of the ALDS as a starter and won Game 4 as a reliever.
"Good things are coming,'' he said Friday. "I know they are.''
And for six innings, he was right.
His seven straight losses in post-season starts are an MLB record. He had been tied with Randy Johnson at six.
Price's earned-run average is 7.02 ERA this post-season, compared to 2.30 in the regular season with Toronto.
Two Jays playing in pain helped the Jays to an early lead with Edwin Encarnacion (finger) and Troy Tulowitzki (shoulder) recording timely hits to drive in runs.
Hard-throwing Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura hit 98 m.p.h. as he struck out Donaldson in a 1-2-3 first inning.
Encarnacion and Chris Colabello opened the Toronto second with singles off Ventura's first two pitches. But after a Tulowitzki strikeout, Escobar made a terrific diving grab of a Russell Martin line drive to double up Encarncion.
Toronto went ahead 1-0 on back-to-back doubles by Pillar and Goins to open the third, ending a 12-inning scoreless drought. Ventura then recorded three straight outs to limit the damage.
The Jays run snapped a post-season scoreless streak by Kansas City pitchers at a franchise-record 18 innings.
Price slammed the door, with 1-2-3 innings in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
Ventura also found his rhythm, retiring nine in a row after yielding the run before running into trouble in the sixth.
Donaldson beat out an infield hit to lead off the inning after getting a new lease on life when his foul popup, while acrobatically caught by catcher Salvador Perez using a bare hand, hit a wire holding up the protective mesh behind the plate so the out didn't register.
After Bautista walked, Encarnacion singled to drive in Donaldson. It was a gritty seven-pitch at-bat for Encarnacion after falling into an 0-2 hole. One out later, Tulowitzki doubled into right field past a diving Rios to score Bautista. Martin walked to load the bases, chasing Ventura in favour of Luke Hochevar, who got two quick outs to extinguish the threat.
Tulowitzki came into the game in a 2-for-25 slump.
Ventura gave up three runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and two walks. He threw 97 pitches, 60 for strikes.
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