Statcast: Pillar's speed creates, takes away runs
The Blue Jays put nearly all of Statcast™'s capabilities to the test on Monday, using a balanced attack of speed, power and defense to beat the Royals, 11-8, in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. They now trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 on Tuesday (3 p.m. ET airtime on FOX Sports 1 and Sportsnet, with game time at 4).
Toronto outfielder Kevin Pillar helped lead the charge, making yet another highlight-reel catch in the first inning before later using his speed to wreak havoc on the bases. His teammates provided plenty of support alongside Pillar, connecting for a pair of towering home runs, while also following his example on the basepaths.
Here's a closer look at some of the key plays from Monday's game, courtesy of Statcast™.
Pillar's speed leads to run
After using his speed to take away a hit earlier in the night, Pillar used his wheels to help manufacture a go-ahead run in the second inning. It started when Pillar reached a blistering max speed of 20.2 mph as he raced down the first-base line to beat out a potential inning-ending double play. He then promptly stole second base. Pillar only had to top out at 15.4 mph because the Royals didn't bother to cover second base out of fear of opening a hole in the infield with a man already on third.
He wasn't done yet, however, as Pillar then kicked it into another gear as he raced home on a Ryan Goins single to left field. Pillar reached a max speed of 21.8 mph on his dash to the plate, helping him go from second base to home in only 6.3 seconds. That mark is easily his fastest time this season, eclipsing his previous best of 6.7 seconds, set all the way back on April 13 against the Rays.
Pillar does it again
Pillar has been a human highlight reel all season, and his impressive range helped limit the Royals to one run in the first inning. With one run in and one man out, Lorenzo Cain crushed a line drive to deep center field. Pillar took his first step just 0.19 seconds after the ball left Cain's bat. Then, he reached a max speed of 18.6 mph as he raced straight back toward the wall.
Pillar ultimately covered a total distance of 99.2 feet, while logging a route efficiency of 92 percent, before making the leaping grab as he crashed into the wall. There were just three occasions during the regular season in which Pillar traveled a greater distance to make a catch, with his season high of 117 feet coming on June 23 against the Rays.
Bautista misplays Escobar liner into triple
Pillar's latest gem came just two batters after fellow Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista had trouble with a line drive off the bat of Alcides Escobar. The game's first batter, Escobar lined a shallow drive toward Bautista, who came up just short as he attempted to charge in for the catch.
Bautista was hampered a bit by his 0.38-second first step time -- double that of Pillar's two batters later -- then reached a max speed of only 16.3 mph on the fast-sinking line drive. Though he registered a respectable route efficiency of 94.8 percent, Bautista was able to cover only 36 feet on the play.
Escobar, meanwhile, hit a max speed of 20.1 mph as he raced from home to third base in only 12.1 seconds for the leadoff triple.
Tulowitzki, Donaldson crush homers
One inning after Pillar helped jump-start the Jays offense with his wheels, Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson helped the club take control of the game with their bats. It started with Tulowitzki, who crushed a three-run homer off Johnny Cueto to push Toronto's lead to 6-2. Tulowitzki turned around a 93-mph pitch at 102.6 mph, and he sent it a projected 422 feet to straightaway center field.
Later in that same inning, Donaldson tacked on two more when he teed off for a no-doubter off reliever Kris Medlen. Despite Donaldson's homer coming on an 81-mph offering from Medlen, the ball jumped off his bat at a scorching 112.5 mph, his hardest-hit home run this season. The ball then traveled a projected 443 feet, good for his fourth-longest blast on the year.
Goins joined the home run barrage two innings later when he sent a 91-mph pitch from Medlen off his bat at 102.5 mph. The ball traveled a projected distance of 399 feet, extending the Blue Jays lead at the time to 10-4 in the fifth inning.
Martin races home from first
In between the Tulowitzki and Donaldson home runs, the Blue Jays also plated another tally when catcher Russell Martin sprinted all the way home from first on a double off the bat of Pillar. Martin reached a max speed of 18.9 mph as he went from first base to home plate in just 11.4 seconds.
Goins makes sliding stop, strong throw
Pillar wasn't the only one to take a hit away from Cain on Monday, as second baseman Goins also turned the trick to start the seventh inning. Goins continued his stellar postseason defense by ranging up the middle to make a sliding stop to rob the Royals of a leadoff single.
Goins got a phenomenal jump on the play, taking his first step just 0.13 seconds after the ball left Cain's bat. He ultimately covered a total distance of 20 feet en route to making the sliding stop deep behind second base. Goins then fired a 73.8-mph strike to narrowly retire the speedy Cain, despite the fact that Cain had reached a max speed of 21.8 mph on his way to first base.