Volquez looks to punch KC's ticket to Series
TORONTO -- A singular question looms ahead of Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez's start against the Blue Jays on Wednesday in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre, set for 3 p.m. ET airtime on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, with game time slated for 4. Will he feel sexy?
"Got to wait until tomorrow," a grinning Volquez said prior to a 14-2 Game 4 win that put the Royals one win away from returning to the World Series. "I will let you know on my way back to the dugout."
:: ALCS: Blue Jays vs. Royals -- Tune-in info ::The last time Volquez traversed that path, moments before he electrified with six dominant innings in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series at Kauffman Stadium, he told batterymate Salvador Perez, "I feel sexy."
The response stemmed from a conversation between pitcher and catcher in which they decided to pitch down and away, rather than simply take the obvious approach and jam Toronto's home run hitters inside.
"I told him, 'I feel sexy throwing down and away,'" Volquez said. "And he told me, 'All right, let's do it.' He trusted me to do it that way."
"If you have all three of your pitches working, which is pretty rare, but Eddie did that night, he was really comfortable throwing the ball down and away, and was doing it to a high degree," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's like, 'OK, let's see how this goes.'
"You change your game plan until it comes back. So that happens quite a bit."
Volquez, who had a history of scuffling on the postseason stage prior to Friday's 5-0 victory, endured no such woes this go-around, suffocating the Blue Jays with his two-seamer -- thrown for 62 of his 111 pitches -- after recognizing its effectively darting ways in the first inning.
Toronto managed just two hits, both singles, off Volquez, who was 0-3 with an 8.76 ERA in his previous three playoff starts. His fastball averaged 95.57 mph, with the two-seamer clocking in at 95.27. In June, he threw it at an average 93.67 mph.
"That's one of the best feelings in the world," Volquez said. "That day, I had a great feeling. I knew I'd pitch a really good game. I didn't know it would end the way it ended. But I had a good feeling that day, 'I'm going to pitch a good game,' and I did. It was good when you feel that way. I think it's good for the team and for yourself and for the fans."
Now Volquez must not only attempt to replicate the performance but do so against the same team, with the chance to pitch his club back into the Fall Classic.
Admittedly, he said, "It's not easy."
"I think facing these guys last week, and I've got to face him again tomorrow, it's very important for me to execute my pitches and keep the ball down," said Volquez, who will be opposed by Marco Estrada. "[I need to] stick with the plan and just pitch in and out and be consistent and stay aggressive with my pitches. We'll see what happens."