In the fifth inning, a foul ball bounced in front of Eric Hosmer’s foot, caromed off his leg and was redirected to his mouth. His lower lip swelled, and Hosmer split blood.
That was the Royals’ night in one pitch: painful for most of the evening.
The Blue Jays created distance in the game early and held on for an 11-8 victory that cut the Royals’ lead in the American League Championship Series to 2-1.
It was a record night for the Royals, for pitching futility and hitting prowess.
The pitching dug too deep a hole for the hitters to dig out.
“Eight runs should be enough to win a ball game,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Tonight, it wasn’t.”
The Blue Jays led 3-1 when they came up in the third and didn’t stop until everybody in the lineup had a crack at starter Johnny Cueto or long reliever Kris Medlen.
The inning included a three-run homer by Troy Tulowitzki off Cueto and a two-run blast by Josh Donaldson.
The Blue Jays, who had led the majors in homers this season, didn’t hit one in the first two games at Kauffman Stadium. The two bombs in one inning felt like a release of pent-up frustration.
“That’s what we’re all about,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We desperately needed to have a breakout. The home run ball, which is what we’re known for, came through for us.”
Toronto’s total matched a record for most runs surrendered by the Royals in a playoff game, and the Blue Jays’ sixth in the third established a standard for an inning.
Monday was the 66th playoff game in the Royals’ history, which started with the 1976 ALCS. Five runs in one inning were the most by an opponent. It had happened three times, the last by the Oakland A’s in last year’s AL Wild Card Game.
But unlike that wild night, the Royals would not complete a comeback.
Cueto also entered the Royals’ record book. He left the game without retiring a hitter in the third and was responsible for eight runs.
No Royals pitcher had ever surrendered more in a playoff game. Dennis Leonard had given up six in Game 1 of the 1980 World Series.
And Cueto became the second pitcher in the game’s history to allow at least eight runs in two or fewer postseason innings.
Ineffective pitchers don’t usually hang around that long, but in his last outing Cueto had retired the final 19 he faced. Monday, he retired six of 17.
Until the ninth, when they scored four runs and cast enough doubt that Gibbons brought in closer Roberto Osuna, the Royals also flirted with a team record for worst playoff loss. That record run differential is seven, which has happened twice. The Tigers won the 1984 ALCS opener 8-1, and the Giants won World Series Game 4 last year 11-4.
But neither of those games unfolded like Monday, when the Royals were pounded early.
The Royals had scored in the first and third innings on fielder’s-choice ground-outs. And the Royals collected the second most hits — 15 — in their playoff history.
Alcides Escobar tied a team postseason record with a four-hit game, Ben Zobrist set a team mark with three doubles and Lorenzo Cain extended his playoff hitting streak to a Royals-record 12 games.
But in the end, the Royals didn’t have enough to offset the crushing blows of the Blue Jays’ power hitters, which extended to the bottom of the order. Ryan Goins, whose misplay of a pop fly in Saturday’s Game 2 opened the door for a Royals’ comeback victory, crushed a homer off Melden in the fifth inning.
Royals postseason records set or tied Monday
Hits in a game: 4, Alcides Escobar (tied record: George Brett twice in 1985 and Lorenzo Cain in 2014)
Doubles in a game: 3, Ben Zobrist (four times previously)
Hitting streak: 12, Lorenzo Cain (old record: 11 Amos Otis, 1978- 80)
Runs allowed in a game: 8, Johnny Cueto (old record: Dennis Leonard, 6 in Game 1 of 1980 World Series vs. Phillies)
Team runs allowed: 11, (ties record: 2014 World Series Game 4 vs. Giants)