TORONTO, Canada: Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada allowed only one run over 7 2/3 innings as the Blue Jays thrashed Kansas City 7-1 on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) to stay alive in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The Royals remain ahead 3-2 in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, which returns to Kansas City for game six on Friday.
“It means the world,” Estrada said of his effort. “We’re not done. I know we’re still down one but we know we still have a job to do. It’s not over.”
Either the Royals or Blue Jays will face the National League champion, the New York Mets or Chicago Cubs, in the World Series final that opens Tuesday.
Estrada faced only the minimum number of batters over the first 6 2/3 innings as the 32-year-old Mexican right-hander baffled a Royals lineup that produced 14 runs one night earlier.
“I had everything going,” Estrada said. “Once I was locating that fastball, I knew it was going to be a good day.”
Kansas City’s only early hit came when Alcides Escobar singled to left field in the fourth inning but Ben Zobrist followed by grounding into a double play.
The Royals did not manage another hit until Salvador Perez smacked a solo homer in the eighth inning, but by then it was too little and too late.
In all, Estrada allowed three hits, walked one, struck out five and surrendered only one run as Toronto supporters provided him the spark to silence Kansas City’s star hitters.
Thrilling series climax
“The fans gave me all the energy I needed,” Estrada said. “I was shaking on the mound. I had so much adrenaline going. I wasn’t nervous. I could feel myself shaking a little bit but I calmed myself down and I was making pitches.”
The Blue Jays, seeking their first World Series title since 1993 in their first playoff appearance since then, are 4-0 in elimination games this month but must still win twice more to reach the World Series.
“It’s a good feeling,” Toronto’s Jose Bautista said. “We’re still up against the wall. Game six is going to be a huge one. We just have to be patient at the plate. We have our two best pitchers going. We have to focus on playing good defense behind them.”
Toronto’s Chris Colabello belted a solo homer in the second inning off Royals’ right-handed starting pitcher Edinson Volquez for a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning when Ben Revere walked, Josh Donaldson was hit by a pitch and Bautista walked, bringing Dominican designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion to the plate.
Volquez walked his countryman Encarnacion to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead and the Royals removed him for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera, who promptly struck out Colabello.
But Troy Tulowitzki responded with a double off the centerfield wall that brought in three runs and gave Toronto a 5-0 advantage.
In the seventh, Donaldson doubled with two outs off Royals reliever Danny Duffy and then scored on Bautista’s double off the centerfield wall to give the Blue Jays a 6-0 lead.
After Perez ended the shutout bid, the Blue Jays added a final run in the eighth when Tulowitzki singled and scored on a double by Kevin Pillar, who was thrown out at third base on the play to end the inning.
Toronto’s 20-year-old closing reliever Roberto Osuna retired the final three Kansas City batters in the ninth to complete the triumph.