Blue Jays pick Navarro to catch in Game 1

Blue Jays pick Navarro to catch in Game 1

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals kept their starting lineup the same and the Blue Jays pretty much did, too, on Friday, choosing the hot bat over the platoon advantage at first base while keeping a harmonious battery in place.

Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX and Sportsnet) features a matchup of veteran right-handers, with Marco Estrada going for Toronto and Edinson Volquez starting for Kansas City.

Game Date Matchup
Gm 1 Oct. 16 KC 5, TOR 0
Gm 2 Oct. 17 KC 6, TOR 3
Gm 3 Oct. 19 TOR 11, KC 8
Gm 4 Oct. 20 KC 14, TOR 2
Gm 5 Oct. 21 TOR 7, KC 1
Gm 6 Oct. 23 KC 4, TOR 3

Navarro, Colabello get the nod

With Estrada on the mound, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons made the anticipated move of going with Dioner Navarro behind the plate. Estrada has a 2.63 ERA in 20 games with Navarro as his catcher and a 4.11 ERA in 14 games working with the everyday guy, Russell Martin.

The decision means Toronto won't benefit from Martin's Major League-leading 44-percent caught-stealing percentage against the team with the second-most stolen bases in the AL. But Navarro isn't too shabby, either. He had a solid 39-percent rate this season (the Major League average was 32 percent).

Gibbons also gave right-handed-hitting first baseman Chris Colabello his first playoff start against an opposing right-hander, sitting the left-handed-hitting Justin Smoak. Colabello is coming off a monster AL Division Series in which he posted a .375/.412/.688 slash line, and he is perfectly capable of handling same-side pitching, posting an .868 OPS against righties this season.

"We need offense; he's been a big part of that all year," Gibbons said of Colabello. "He's in a nice groove right now."

BLUE JAYS LINEUP
Ben Revere, LF
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Jose Bautista, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Chris Colabello, 1B
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Dioner Navarro, C
Kevin Pillar, CF
Ryan Goins, 2B

Yost talks ALCS preparation

Status quo

The Royals rolled out the same lineup throughout their five-game ALDS, and they made no changes for the ALCS opener.

After a failed experiment with Ben Zobrist and Alex Gordon at the leadoff spot, Kansas City manager Ned Yost went back to Alcides Escobar as his table-setter in the final week of the regular season and has continued to ride that into the playoffs. Now Yost's lineup is perfectly balanced, with none of his left-handed bats stacked together.

That could be key against a Blue Jays team that has only one lefty reliever in Aaron Loup.

"We've got a lot of confidence in our lineup," Yost said. "You can start a rally from anywhere in that lineup, one through nine, and sustain a rally anywhere one through nine. We like the way our lineup is constructed right now, and we think we can score runs with it."

ROYALS LINEUP
Alcides Escobar, SS
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Salvador Perez, C
Alex Gordon, LF
Alex Rios, RF

 

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.