TORONTO - Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins addressed a passel of media members late Saturday afternoon and took full blame, because it was his miscue that helped set up the Royals' furious comeback and, in his mind, triggered a crushing defeat in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. Then Goins showered, retreated to his locker and checked his smartphone. On it was a voice message from his grandmother, Evelyn, with all of the reassurance that he needed.
"She told me she loves me," Goins said, smiling, after following the biggest gaffe of his career with the performance of his life. "That was good."
On Monday night -- a mere 48 hours after letting a fly ball drop at the start of Kansas City's five-run seventh inning -- Goins did it all in Toronto's 11-8 victory during ALCS Game 3 at Rogers Centre. He drove in the Blue Jays' first two runs with a single, brought in the penultimate one with a monster home run and mixed in an assortment of slick defensive plays throughout.
Afterward, Goins sat on the dais alongside his double-play partner, Troy Tulowitzki.
"I can't tell you how happy I am to be sitting up here right now next to him after that game in Kansas City," Tulowitzki said, his Blue Jays trailing, 2-1, in this best-of-seven series, which continues today with Game 4 (3 p.m. ET air time on FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet, 4 p.m. game time). "I think everybody in that locker room had his back. But for tonight, for him to be putting together the at-bats that he did, play the great defense -- he deserved it, because he didn't put his head down."
With the Blue Jays trailing, 1-0, and runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the second, Goins fouled off four consecutive two-strike pitches from Royals ace Johnny Cueto. He took another ball to run the count full, then stayed back just long enough on an outside-corner slider to drive it into left field, plating two runs, taking second on the throw home and scoring later.
In the fifth, he jumped on a 1-0 fastball from Kris Medlen and unleashed a towering shot well into right-center field to join Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar as the only other Blue Jays second baseman to go deep in a postseason game.
Then there was a flawless sliding play on Lorenzo Cain's sharp grounder up the middle in the seventh, and two perfectly executed off-balance throws in the first and ninth innings, bookending a night Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called "the perfect game" for Goins.
"You saw Ryan Goins today," his best friend, Kevin Pillar, said. "You see what he's capable of doing. [Saturday's miscue] is not how he's going to go down and be remembered. He's a tremendous defender. He made a mistake. He owned up to it. But we've got all the confidence in the world in him."
With the Royals leading by three and David Price retiring the previous 18 batters in Game 2 from Kauffman Stadium, Goins ranged into shallow right field for what seemed like a harmless popup from Ben Zobrist. He shot his glove in the air, then thought he heard Jose Bautista call him off. Goins watched the baseball hit the ground, then watched the Royals string together five hits over the next seven batters to take the lead.
Afterward -- with his shoulders slumped, his eyes distant and his voice shaky -- Goins said, "The blame should go on me today."
His teammates disagreed, then and now.
"That's not the reason we lost the game," Pillar said. "Media, people outside this room, think that's why we lost the game. That was not the reason we lost the game. We're never going to blame it on one guy. We had opportunities to get out of that inning. We didn't. We had opportunities to score more runs. We didn't. I couldn't be happier for him, for him to go out there and kind of shut people up that were badmouthing him, because this guy's been outstanding all year. He doesn't deserve that."
Goins, 27, was never supposed to be an everyday player. He got promoted from utility infielder to starting second baseman when Devon Travis sustained a shoulder injury in late July that eventually put him out for the year. Goins didn't hit like Travis, but he defended better. And the Blue Jays, getting power from several other places by that point, benefited greatly from that defense over the last two months.
On the plane ride from Kansas City to Toronto late Saturday night, several of Goins' teammates reminded him of that in hopes of lifting his spirits. By that point, though, it wasn't necessary. Goins had moved on, and by the time he arrived to the field for Game 3, the misplayed fly ball was "probably the last thought in my head."
Grandma had given him all the confidence he needed.
"Everybody's going to say whatever they want about how I lost the game, blah, blah, blah," Goins said. "I don't care about any of that. Knowing my family has my back, and my teammates have my back -- that's enough."