Blue Jays get back to what they do best in win
Three home runs set pace for Game 3 victory against Royals
TORONTO -- The offensive eruption the Blue Jays have been waiting so long for finally happened on Monday night, and surprise, surprise, the long ball was one of the main reasons why.
Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson and Ryan Goins all homered as the Blue Jays rode the league's best regular-season offense to an 11-8 win over Kansas City in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
Toronto still trails the series, two games to one, but it has a chance to pull even during this afternoon's Game 3 (3 p.m. ET airtime on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, with game time slated for 4 p.m.).
The Blue Jays have the ability to score in multiple ways, but home runs will always be their calling card, and their power was on full display against Kansas City. A return to the friendly confines of Rogers Centre turned out to be exactly what the team needed.
"That's the style of offense that we play," said Donaldson, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. "That's what we want to do. It doesn't always happen, because the pitchers are out there, they're making their money, too. We've leaned on the long ball this year.
"We can score runs in different ways, but the ability to hit the long ball is definitely something that we count on, and we were able to do that [three] times tonight."
Toronto led the Major Leagues with 232 home runs. Of the Blue Jays' league-best 891 runs, 371 were scored via the homer, which equates to 41.6 percent. That was the sixth-highest percentage in the Major Leagues and a stark contrast to a Royals lineup that scored 30.1 percent of its runs that way.
Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion get most of the attention, but the reality is that the production doesn't stop after the middle of the order. Toronto had eight players finish the season with double digits in home runs, and that depth was on full display in Game 3.
There was a two-run shot by Donaldson in the third inning, but there also was a three-run homer by No. 6 hitter Troy Tulowitzki and a solo shot by No. 9 hitter by Goins. It's the type of lineup that is so potent that it never allows the opposing pitcher to take his foot off the pedal.
"We desperately needed that breakout," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You look at how the game finished up, those runs really came in handy. It wasn't an easy game, even though we had a big lead. The home run ball, which is what we're known for, was a huge part of the game."
In the first two games of the ALCS, the bats had been missing in action. The Blue Jays didn't have a single extra-base hit in Game 1 and were shut out for just the sixth time this season. The numbers were better in Game 2, but the club still managed only three runs and didn't have a ball clear the fence.
It was a different story in Game 3. Eight of the runs were charged to Royals right-hander Johnny Cueto, and by the third inning, the Blue Jays were off to the races.
The Blue Jays fell behind in the ALCS in a fashion similar to how they fell behind Texas in the AL Division Series. In the first two games against the Rangers, the bats were quiet before breaking out, and Toronto hopes that Game 3 represents the start of a similar turnaround.
"There's no quitting in that locker room, I'll tell you that," said Tulowitzki, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. "No matter if our backs are against the wall, we're faced with elimination, we still believe. That's not the case with every team. There's a reason why we're here."