After an Alcides Escobar single on the first pitch of the game, Blue Jays ace David Price vexed the Royals for six innings.
It was the only hit Price allowed until Ben Zobrist dropped a ball into shallow right field that second baseman Ryan Goins called for, pulled on and let drop in to set the stage for yet another late-inning Royals rally.
“Sometimes, there’s that one little crack, when you’re on the road, can open up the floodgates,” said Toronto manager John Gibbons, whose club faces an 0-2 series hole after the Royals’ 6-3 victory Saturday in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium.
Lorenzo Cain followed Zobrist’s bloop by lashing a single to right and Eric Hosmer followed with his own opposite-field single, plating Zobrist and breaking up Price’s shutout.
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Next, Kendrys Morales rolled an RBI grounder up the middle and was out on a snazzy play by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but the Royals avoided a double play by having Hosmer steal second on the play.
After taking a 1-2 fastball maybe an inch off the plate, Mike Moustakas served the game-tying single over Goins’ head.
“Looking at the inning, we just had some really good at-bats,” Royals closer Wade Davis said. “We had some hits fall in. We didn’t really torch him or anything like that. That’s just the kind of pitcher he is. Every time you watch him pitch, every single pitch is going to be the most competitive pitch he throws. I would definitely stick with that guy too.”
With two outs, Alex Gordon smacked a double to right-center, giving the Royals their first lead of the game and Alex Rios added an RBI grounder.
Price’s dominance the previous six innings was wasted in a five-hit, five-run, seventh-inning barrage, but Gibbons never really considered going away from him before Gordon’s at-bat.
“He’s one pitch away from getting out of that,” Gibbons said. “And, of course, the big hit by Gordo with a good at-bat, so it was unfortunate. You can’t really pitch a better game to that point anyway. He did a hell of a job.”
Price, who was acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline, dropped to 0-7 in seven career postseason starts. He struck out seven in the first six innings and finished with a Jays record-tying eight in 6 2/3 innings.
“He held them at check,” Gibbons said. “He didn’t break a sweat before that seventh inning. … Deserve better, that’s for sure.”