Toronto will head to Kansas City for Games 1 and 2
By Jamie Ross
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' sights are set on the Royals. The two teams will open the best-of-seven American League Championship Series on Friday at Kauffman Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX/Sportsnet).
Both the Blue Jays and Royals won their respective AL Division Series in winner-take-all Game 5s on Wednesday, setting the table for a showdown between the AL's two best teams during the regular season. The Royals, who had the AL's best record, have home-field advantage, meaning they will host Games 1, 2 and, if necessary, 6 and 7. Toronto beat the Rangers, 6-3, to advance.
The Blue Jays lost the first two games of the ALDS at home, then won three straight to reach the ALCS. Only two other teams have lost the first two games of a best-of-five Division Series at home and then reached the LCS: The 2001 Yankees (who went on to lose the World Series) and the 2012 Giants (who won the World Series).
With the Blue Jays facing elimination, Estrada pitched a gem in Game 3 against the Rangers in Arlington, allowing one earned run over 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. He's faced the Royals twice this season, posting a 1-1 record while allowing four earned runs over 12 1/3 innings (2.92 ERA).
Price, on the other hand, last pitched out of the bullpen in Game 4, and he allowed three earned runs on six hits over three innings while being credited with the win. The ace left-hander, who was acquired from the Tigers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, has had some troubles in the postseason, posting a 2-6 record with a 5.04 ERA over 12 career games (six starts). Price also faced the Royals twice this season, posting a 1-0 record while allowing six runs (five earned) over 15 1/3 innings (2.93 ERA).
Despite being used twice in the ALDS, Price said he would be "absolutely" ready to go should the Blue Jays call on him to start Friday.
The Royals and Blue Jays faced each other seven times this season, with the Blue Jays walking away with four wins. They were 3-1 at home against Kansas City and 1-2 at Kauffman Stadium.
The last time these two teams met, on Aug. 2, things got heated. Benches cleared and three ejections were issued in the Blue Jays' 5-2 win.
At the plate, the Blue Jays appear to have the advantage, much like they do over every team in the Major Leagues. Toronto owned an MLB-best .797 OPS and 232 homers during the regular season, compared to the Royals' .734 mark (10th in Majors) and 139 home runs (24th in Majors).
In the starting rotation, statistically speaking, the Blue Jays also have an advantage. Their 3.96 starters' ERA (12th in Majors) and .256 starters' batting average against (14th in the Majors) also bested the Royals during the regular season. Kansas City had a 4.34 starters' ERA (22nd in the Majors) and a .269 batting average against (25th in Majors).
In the bullpen, however, the Royals have the advantage, boasting a 2.72 bullpen ERA (second in the Majors) and a .214 batting average against (best in the Majors). The Blue Jays' bullpen ERA was 3.50 (12th in the Majors) and its batting average against was .231 (third in the Majors).
Game 2 is set for Saturday at Kauffman at 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1/Sportsnet), with Game 3 on Monday at Rogers Centre (FS1/Sportsnet). Games 4 and, if necessary, 5 would follow the next two days in Toronto (FS1/Sportsnet).
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.