TORONTO -- Arguably one of the worst outings by a starting pitcher in Major League postseason history came at the most inopportune time for Royals right-hander Johnny Cueto.
Cueto gave up eight earned runs in two-plus innings -- the most in postseason history by a starter in two innings or fewer -- and the Royals lost Game 3 of the American League Championship Series to the Blue Jays, 11-8, on Monday. Kansas City now leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for this afternoon (3 p.m. ET airtime on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, game time slated for 4 p.m.).
Cueto, who was so effective in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, retiring the final 19 Astros he faced, gave up six hits and walked four this time, missing a chance to give the Royals a stranglehold on the series.
"It was tough," Cueto said through interpreter Pedro Grifiol. "It seemed the bullpen mound was a little higher than the real one, and I couldn't keep my pitches down. I didn't make the adjustments. It's no excuse. They beat me."
Cueto was serenaded throughout the game with sarcastic chants of "CUE-to! CUE-to!" And when manager Ned Yost removed Cueto, the crowd chanted even louder as he headed for the dugout. Cueto responded with a mix of grin and smirk, though he insists there is nothing to be read into it.
"It's just part of my DNA," he said. "That's just me coming out of the game. There was no laughing about it."
Cueto was nicked for three runs in the second inning, two of them on a single to left by No. 9 hitter Ryan Goins.
"I thought I made some good pitches on him, but didn't get the call," Cueto said.
Cueto didn't record an out in the third, during which he gave up a three-run homer to Troy Tulowitzki. Two batters after that, Cueto was chased by Kevin Pillar's double.
"I didn't make adjustments," Cueto said, "but I'll be ready for Game 7 if there is one."
Yost is not concerned.
"Before his next start," Yost said, "he's going to be able to work on some things on the side, and I guarantee you, if he makes another start in this series, he'll be good."
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.