Tulo's 3-run double caps Blue Jays' 6th-inning rally
SS delivers yet another key hit in elimination game
TORONTO -- Troy Tulowitzki's return to health is starting to show up in the box score. The All-Star shortstop has collected multiple hits in three of his last four games, and on Wednesday came through with a crucial three-run double to break the game wide open as the Blue Jays staved off elimination with a 7-1 win over the Royals in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre.
After sustaining a cracked shoulder blade in a defensive collision late in the regular season, the 31-year-old's return to form couldn't have come at a better time.
"I'm good enough to go. I've said that all along. I wouldn't be out there if I wasn't," Tulowitzki said after going 2-for-4 with three RBIs, helping the Blue Jays force Game 6 on Friday (on Fox Sports 1 and Sportsnet at 7 p.m. ET, with game time at 8 p.m.) at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
If this is what constitutes "good enough" in Tulowitzki's book, it's hard to imagine what he could do at full strength. After going 2-for-25 in his first six postseason contests, Tulowitzki is 7-for-15 since Game 2 against the Royals.
His postseason production is almost unheard of in Blue Jays history. His seven RBIs against the Royals are the most by any Toronto player in an ALCS, and his 11 RBIs are the second most by a Blue Jays player in a single postseason. Only Paul Molitor had more when he drove in 13 in 1993, the last time Toronto won a World Series.
Tulowitzki's contributions on Wednesday were his most important to date, capping off a timely rally that helped widen a 2-0 lead in an elimination game.
After the Blue Jays loaded the bases with no out, Tulowitzki cleared them with one swing, knocking a 99-mph fastball from reliever Kelvin Herrera to the wall in center field. The double left Tulowitzki's bat with an exit velocity of 106.9 mph, according to Statcast™, making it his second-hardest hit ball of the postseason.
"We've been talking about Tulo, his big home runs, and really last-ditch type games, then the same thing tonight, the bases-clearing double," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Tulowitzki's timely offense, which includes a crucial homer in an elimination game against the Rangers in the ALDS -- his hardest hit ball of the playoffs at 107.0 mph -- are the types of performances the team was hoping to get when it acquired him from the Rockies at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
There was concern he wouldn't be ready for the postseason when he cracked his shoulder blade in a collision with Kevin Pillar, causing him to miss a little more than two weeks in September. He returned for the final two games of the regular season, but admitted he wasn't at full capacity. While he's still not there, his recent results speak for themselves.
"He's been finding his groove," said leadoff man Ben Revere. "That's why they got him in a trade. He's gonna help us in the playoffs."