MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Blue Jays hope to walk in Giant footsteps

Toronto looks to replicate San Francisco's comeback in 2012 NLCS

Blue Jays hope to walk in Giant footsteps

KANSAS CITY -- The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays have heard a lot about the 1985 Kansas City Royals in the last few days, and they hope the comparisons become more relevant this weekend.

The Royals of 30 years ago dug themselves a 3-1 postseason hole against the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series. Somehow, they climbed out, winning three straight elimination games.

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
Shop for official Blue Jays postseason gear

But there are other examples, including some recent ones.

For instance, the 2012 Giants.

Here's one for the Blue Jays to chew on as they head into Game 6 of the ALCS tonight (7 p.m. ET airtime on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, with game time slated for 8 p.m.), trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series after a 7-1 win in Game 5.

The Giants lost the first two games of the National League Division Series that year, both of them at home. The Blue Jays can relate, having just finished winning an ALDS in which they opened by losing two in a row at home to the Texas Rangers.

The Blue Jays rallied to win three straight, and so did the Giants in '12. When the Giants got to the NLCS against the Cardinals, the story was the same. They lost three of the first four games.

And they refused to go away.

Barry Zito pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in Game 5 to force the series back to San Francisco. After that, the Giants made it look easy, winning by scores of 6-1 and 9-0. And like the 1985 Royals, the Giants finished off their postseason run by winning the World Series.

The 2003 Marlins took a similar path. They dug themselves from a 3-1 hole in the NLCS against the Cubs. Josh Beckett pitched a two-hitter to win Game 5, 4-0, and force the series back to Chicago.

The Marlins rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the eighth inning of Game 6 at Wrigley Field. They scored eight runs in that inning, including the most infamous play in Chicago Cubs history -- a foul fly ball that was touched by a fan in the front row as Cubs left fielder Moises Alou jumped for it.

And then the Marlins slugged out a 9-6 win in Game 7 and went on to win the World Series, clinching on a another complete-game shutout by Beckett in Game 6.

Gibbons discusses offense

So if the Blue Jays are looking for inspiration, it's not difficult to find. They've mentioned the 1985 Royals a time or two in the last few days, with third baseman Josh Donaldson saying, "If it was done 30 years ago, it can be done again."

History is against them. Only 12 of 79 teams with a 3-1 deficit in the postseason have gone on to win the series. But the Blue Jays have simplified things to a true one-game-at-a-time philosophy.

The Blue Jays are already flirting with history. Only three teams have won more than four straight elimination games in a single postseason. The Blue Jays got a huge confidence boost simply from winning Game 5 and keeping the series alive. If they win Game 6 on Friday, they'll like their chances in Game 7.

"Our goal, of course, was to bring it back to Kansas City," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We did that, and we're riding high right now. But we always ride high, if you want to know the truth. We don't always win, but we feel good."

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