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Blue Jays confident they can mount comeback and take series back to Kansas City

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays' suitcases were packed and neatly stacked outside the clubhouse Wednesday, ready for a flight to Kansas City.

A win was needed first and manager John Gibbons said all hands will be on deck for Game 5 against the Kansas City Royals, who led the best-of-seven American League Championship Series 3-1 going into Wednesday's game.

That meant starter David Price was available coming out of the bullpen, as he did in Game 4 of the ALDS, in case starter Marco Estrada needs help.

"You could even see (R.A.) Dickey if it came down to it," Gibbons said of the veteran knuckleballer who was shelled early in Tuesday's 14-2 loss. "Not an ideal spot, but we need Estrada to be really good, and he normally is."

Wednesday's game marked the 80th time in LCS or World Series history that a team led 3-1 in a best-of-seven series. On the previous 79 occasions, 67 teams holding the 3-1 advantage went on to win the series.

Essentially the only Toronto pitchers not in play Wednesday were Marcus Stroman, who started Monday, and relievers Liam Hendriks and Mark Lowe, who have had heavy workloads.

Gibbons reiterated he would not overwork Price and Lowe, who are pending free agents, saying "I have a conscience."

"These guys have got bright futures ahead of them, still a lot left," he said. "Really what it comes down to, if a team is going to get to the World Series, it takes more than one or two guys. If you don't have those, you probably don't deserve to get there. So we need to rely on all our other guys.

"David (Price) will be available today, maybe a couple innings max. But a couple of guys have to step up like they have all year. That's the importance of depth in this game, especially this time of year. I don't think you can approach it recklessly, because I do have a conscience."

Toronto was again without left-hander reliever Aaron Loup, who is away on a family matter. The rules do not allow the Jays to replace him on the roster.

Should Toronto extend the series and return to Kansas City for Games 6 and 7, Gibbons said Stroman could come back on three days rest for the next game Friday. Price could go Saturday, depending on how much he throws before that.

"It's not ideal," Gibbons repeated.

The Jays manager has been candid about what has happened in the series.

"They're just beating us right now, I mean they're outplaying us," he said of the Royals. "Really that's the story."

Gibbons pointed to Kansas City's depth and the fact that the Royals are on a roll at the plate.

"They're hotter than fire with those bats," he said.

Gibbons said his players remain confident and upbeat, knowing they won three straight to beat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.

Toronto also ran up two 11-game win streaks during the season.

"The personalities haven't changed one bit. It's a fun-loving group. They enjoy competing. They enjoy playing baseball, really," Gibbons said of his squad. "And they know they're good."

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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