Toronto Blue Jays' Ben Revere waits to bat during baseball practice Thursday

Blue Jays and Royals to provide fireworks in ALDS

The Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays promise plenty of fireworks in their AL Championship Series, and not just because one team features power arms and the other power bats. The Royals and Blue Jays already have played a contentious set of games this season, including a matchup in Toronto marked by two bench-clearing incidents. And while both sides said during Thursday’s workouts that previous rancour has been forgotten, the emotionally charged atmosphere of playoff baseball means there could be some short fuses in the opener Friday night.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays promise plenty of fireworks in their AL Championship Series, and not just because one team features power arms and the other power bats.

The Royals and Blue Jays already have played a contentious set of games this season, including a matchup in Toronto marked by two bench-clearing incidents. And while both sides said during Thursday’s workouts that previous rancour has been forgotten, the emotionally charged atmosphere of playoff baseball means there could be some short fuses in the opener Friday night.

“It’s over with. We’ve got to move forward,” insisted the Royals’ Edinson Volquez, who will start Game 1 and was arguably the biggest instigator when the teams met in August.

It was Volquez whose inside pitching drew the ire of the Blue Jays, eventually leading to the first of those bench-clearing moments. And after the game, he called Blue Jays star Josh Donaldson “a little baby” for complaining about his inside pitching.

Asked whether he intends to pitch inside again Friday night, Volquez replied: “Of course.”

Royals manager Ned Yost was one word more succinct: “Absolutely.”

Even if it might mean more bad blood.

“I’m not a mind reader. I’m not a fortune teller. I don’t know if it’s going to be an issue,” Yost said. “But we’ll pitch inside aggressively. That’s a power-laden club over there. We’re going to formulate a really good game plan and try to go out and execute.”

The Blue Jays, who start Marco Estrada in the opener, won three straight elimination games against Texas to reach their first AL Championship Series since 1993. The last of those games Wednesday was as tense as they come.

After the Rangers took the lead on a fluke play, the Blue Jays stormed back thanks in part to three Texas errors. Donaldson’s blooper tied the game, and Jose Bautista capped the comeback with a long three-run homer, emphatically flipping his bat nearly as high in the air.

Bautista’s reaction wasn’t taken well by the Rangers, who essentially called it bush league, and the entire affair touched off a wide-spread debate about decorum.

“You look at all professional sports in general, everybody celebrates more so than they used to,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “In our particular sport, if it’s happening for your team, your guy gets a big hit, nobody minds it. If you’re on the other side, nobody likes it.”

It’s not just what has gone on this post-season, or even in the regular season, that makes this ALCS matchup so juicy. It’s also the history the two franchises share.

They met once before in the ALCS, with the Royals rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the first year of seven-game series. The last two wins came in Toronto, providing the Royals with so much momentum that they went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals for their only World Series triumph.

There was plenty of emotion in that series, too.

“I think you just see so much drama at times because it’s the post-season,” Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. “Obviously, that series in Toronto (earlier this year) was two competitive teams. I think that’s why we’re here right now, because it’s two teams that really take pride in doing things to protect their teammates, to show that the team has a better club.”

The two best teams in the American League go about things in different ways.

Much like that ‘85 Royals team, this one is built upon pitching and defence — hard-throwing starters and relievers, and enough speed to track down just about anything that stays in their park.

That was a big reason why they were able to down the Astros in their divisional series.

“A big part of their success is they flag the ball down, because a lot of teams can’t, because the outfield is so big here,” said Gibbons, a former bench coach in Kansas City. “We’re built a little bit differently. I think a lot of it has to do with where we play.”

The Blue Jays play in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, so naturally they’re among the best in baseball at scoring with a single swing. Bautista’s shot against the Rangers was proof, but so were the major league league-leading 232 homers that Toronto hit during the regular season.

That’s why the Royals intend to pitch the Blue Jays inside, to mitigate their power. And also why there could be some testy moments when the teams begin their best-of-seven showdown.

“We all know Toronto is a better team than Houston. They’ve got more veteran guys and more power hitters,” Volquez said. “We’re going to play our game. We’re going to stay with the plan and do it. Like I

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read