Medlen saves Royals' bullpen in Game 3 loss
TORONTO -- Kris Medlen is no stranger to prolonged periods of rest. Twice the Royals right-hander has undergone Tommy John surgery, with each requiring more than a year's worth of numbing inactivity. Medlen simply laughed Monday evening when asked about the difficulty of pitching for the first time in 18 days.
"I've gone a long time without pitching," Medlen said after his team's 11-8 Game 3 loss to the Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, though the Royals still hold a 2-1 advantage. "So I don't like to ever use that as an excuse for anything. Anything I can do to help us win or keep us in games, I'm going to do it."
Medlen had no reason to even need an excuse, not after providing Kansas City five innings and a fresh bullpen for Tuesday (3 p.m. ET air time on FOX Sports 1/Sportsnet, 4 p.m. game time), when Chris Young is slated to take the mound for his first start since Oct. 2.
Though Medlen's entrance signaled despair for a Royals club that couldn't get an out from starter Johnny Cueto, who left a man on second with five runs already allowed in the frame in the third inning, his work was vital, and its significance twofold.
Not only was Medlen able to eat up innings and limit the damage thereafter, but in doing so, he helped prevent his team from using the heart of its bullpen. Rather, those arms will be fresh for Game 4, which is scheduled for this afternoon.
"Very, very crucial. It was a great job by Kris Medlen," said Kansas City manager Ned Yost, who proceeded to list off the names of who will be ready to go: Luke Hochevar, Danny Duffy, Wade Davis, Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera.
"Now we've got two more games here, we can go ahead and pour the coals on them," Yost continued. "With the three games, you've got to make sure you don't overuse somebody. But two games in a row, we can utilize those guys in both games, which makes it better. So he did a great job allowing us to do that."
"If you have to go out there and throw today, tomorrow and the next day, that can be a lot," Davis said. "So I don't know that people understand just how huge that was today, not having to have too many guys throw."
Though idle in the club's previous 10 games that followed his last appearance on Oct. 1, Medlen came prepared. He had kept up with his usual work off the mound to stay sharp; and that he was, after yielding Josh Donaldson's two-run homer with two outs in the third, with Cueto responsible for one of those runs.
Medlen, who has vast experience as both a starter and a reliever, limited a robust Blue Jays lineup to two hits in his final four innings, one of them deposited into the right-center stands off the bat of Ryan Goins in the fifth. Medlen showcased his typically effective deft movement throughout, inducing six ground-ball outs and fanning just as many with one walk, needing 11 pitches or fewer in the fourth through six innings.
"You go out there not really thinking about yourself," said Medlen, just two years removed from standing at the top of Atlanta's rotation. "You go out there thinking about the team and about the bullpen and saving some arms and trying to put up zeroes, knowing our team fights like they do."
"That's not easy to do," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's tough when you come in that early in the game, and for him to eat up those innings for us, I think you'll see how much it will help us tomorrow."