MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Once again, Royals raring to rebound

Holding ALCS lead, KC has been resilient all season

Once again, Royals raring to rebound

TORONTO -- OK, so Johnny Cueto got knocked around. So the Royals got thumped by the Blue Jays, 11-8, in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on Monday night.

So what? Take a deep breath. Chill.

Shop for Royals postseason gear

The Royals will. No sense for panic. No time to overreact.

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

They are up, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series, and this afternoon in Game 4 (3 p.m. ET air time on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, 4 p.m. game time), they will back under the dome in Toronto, looking to do what they did better than any team in the AL this year -- win ballgames.

And while they didn't win the war on the field Monday, they did win a battle that could be a significant success in the next couple of days.

They pretty much ran through the Blue Jays' bullpen, including -- despite trailing, 11-4, going into the ninth -- creating enough pressure that Toronto manager John Gibbons felt the need to call in closer Roberto Osuna, who was greeted by Kendrys Morales' two-run home run before getting the game's final two outs.

"It's a playoff game that you need to win," Gibbons said. "Things were starting to roll the other way. Ideally he doesn't get into that game, but it's not an ideal world. You're feeling good, but you are not. Things are starting to happen. We didn't want to use him. We had to use him."

That's what the Royals can do to an opponent. They have a lineup in which every hitter, one through nine, is a threat, and a roster of players who don't say uncle. Kansas City overcame multirun deficits in all five of its victories this postseason, including Game 2 of the ALCS when Toronto led, 3-0, after six innings with David Price on the mound. The Royals won that one, 6-3.

And that came after coming from behind in 40 of their 95 regular-season victories.

"It's how we go about things," said first baseman Eric Hosmer. "We always think we can win it. We think any comeback is possible. You are frustrated, but you also know it is one game. We are up two games to one. We just look at it as, 'We will come back tomorrow and get a win.'"

Hosmer slides at first for RBI

Rest assured, the Blue Jays are well aware of the Royals' ability to erase deficits.

That's why before he even got to Osuna, the Royals already had forced Gibbons to pull starter Marcus Stroman with one out in the seventh despite a 10-4 lead. And Gibbons had run through the bullpen brigade of right-handers Aaron Sanchez, Liam Hendriks and Mark Lowe, his prime seventh- and eighth-inning guys.

And the Blue Jays' left-handed late man, Brett Cecil, is nursing a strained calf and is not on the ALCS roster, which was a big part of why Gibbons had stuck with Price five runs into that seventh-inning rally Saturday.

"Real big," Kansas City manager Ned Yost replied when asked how big it was to see so many Blue Jays relievers. "I was proud of our offense, the way [the hitters] swung the bats. We were down big there going into the ninth, but they didn't quit."

Yost on offense in loss

As Hosmer put it, "That's a definite positive we can take out of the game. Obviously they are looking at the possibility of back-to-back [appearances]. The mindset we have to have is we're up two games to one."

Here's the kicker. While Gibbons was wearing a path into the turf between the dugout and the mound, waving in relievers, Yost was able to get five strong innings from Kris Medlen after Cueto's early exit, leaving him with all his key relievers rested for the next two games in Toronto.

Yost didn't even warm up Wade Davis or Danny Duffy or Ryan Madson or Kelvin Herrera or Luke Hochevar.

"Now we've got two more games here and we can go ahead and pour the coals on them," said Yost. "With three games in a row, you have to make sure you don't overuse somebody, but with two games in a row, you can utilize those guys in both games."

Yost on Medlen's outing

There was no celebration in the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre on Monday, but there wasn't any dejection, either. These Royals have matured quickly. They have shown an ability to answer challenges.

Late in the regular season, Yost was mixing and matching with his lineup a bit to make sure everybody was as close to full strength for the postseason as possible. But with the Blue Jays struggling, the opportunity to claim home-field advantage throughout the postseason was there, and the Royals responded by winning their final five games.

Then Kansas City lost the opener to Houston in the AL Division Series, and was down, 2-1, in the best-of-five series, but rallied from a 6-3 deficit after seven innings at Minute Maid Park to pull out a 9-6 victory in Game 4. Then, after falling behind 2-0 early in a win-or-go-home Game 5 at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals rallied for a 7-2 victory to advance to the NLCS.

"That's how we play," said left fielder Alex Gordon. "We don't give up until the game is over. If we have another at-bat, we feel we are going to win. The score doesn't matter. It doesn't change our mindset."

Don't believe it? Just watch them.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.