The Kansas City Royals begin the ALCS with Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium, facing off against the East Division leaders, the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Kansas City Royals were hot, coming off an ALDS Game 5 win allowing them to advance to the ALCS. Hopes of making it to the World Series for the second year in a row were becoming more and more real. Kansas City had to battle back during the ALDS. A Game 1 and Game 3 loss put the Houston Astros in place to take the series. Luckily for the Royals, a Game 4 win and an outstanding Game 5 performance by Johnny Cueto sealed the deal and kept the Royals moving forward.
The Royals would now have to face the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays led the East Division with 93 wins and were second among the American League in wins, following only the Royals.
The Royals knew they would have to strike first in this series, as they didn’t want to find themselves behind again as they did during the ALDS. On the evening of October 16, 2015, in front of packed Kauffman Stadium of 39,753 fans, Game 1 of the ALCS began.
On the mound for the Blue Jays was Marco Estrada. Estrada had a decent 2015 with Toronto, finishing the regular season with a 13-8 record and a 3.13 ERA. For the Royals, Edinson Volquez got the start. Volquez had similar numbers to Estrada, going 13-9 in the regular season, with a 3.55 ERA. Volquez also provided the Royals with 200 innings during 2015.
The game started off quiet for both teams through the second inning. Volquez gave up a walk with two outs to Jose Bautista in the top of the first but was able to retire the next batter, and all three Toronto batters in the second. Similarly, Estrada gave up a double to Alcides Escobar to begin the bottom of first but retired the next six batters he faced through the second inning.
In the top of the third, Volquez walked Kevin Pillar to begin the inning. He was able to recover and retired the next three batters without allowing any runs. In the bottom of the third, the Royals started to come alive.
Alex Gordon led off the inning with a double to right field, followed by a strikeout from Alex Rios. Escobar followed by doubling to right, allowing Gordon to score. Ben Zobrist stepped to the plate, hitting into a groundball but allowing Escobar to make it to third, scoring at the next at-bat on a single from Lorenzo Cain. Estrada pitched Eric Hosmer into a pop fly to end the inning without any further score, leaving the inning with the Royals up 2-0.
Volquez pitched another quiet top of the fourth, allowing a single from Chris Colabello with two outs, but striking out Troy Tulowitzki to end the top of the inning. Estrada started strong in the top of the fourth, striking out the first two batters. The Royals struck again, though, with Salvador Perez hitting a Home Run on his first pitch to bring the score to 3-0.
The fifth, sixth and seventh innings were battles between the pitchers. Volquez allowed one run on two outs in the fifth and started the top of the sixth with two walks. He was able to pull himself together in both innings, though, keeping the Blue Jays from scoring.
Estrada had a strong fifth, going three up three down. In the sixth, Estrada started with a strikeout to Cain. Following this, Eric Hosmer reached first on an error, and Kendrys Morales continued to move the line with a single to right, allowing Hosmer to reach third. Toronto replaced Estrada with Aaron Loup, who pitched Mike Moustakas into a double play to end the inning.
The seventh inning showed pitching changes for both teams. For the Royals, Kelvin Herrera replaced Edinson Volquez. He recorded two strikeouts and a pop fly, retiring all three batters. Mark Lowe replaced Aaron Loup for Toronto and like Herrera, sat down the three Royals batters he saw.
Ryan Madson replaced Herrera in the top of the eighth. Madson started the inning with a groundout, but after giving up a single to Josh Donaldson and walking Jose Bautista, Toronto looked to be back in the game. Madson tightened up the screws and pitched the next two batters into a foul pop fly and a groundout to end the inning without further damage.
The Royals still had something to leave on the field, wanting to secure their Game 1 victory. With LaTroy Hawkins now on the mound for the Blue Jays, Escobar was hit by a pitch to begin the inning, followed by a single from Zobrist. With one out, Eric Hosmer doubled to right, batting in Escobar and Zobrist. Morales followed with a sacrifice fly allowing Zobrist to score. The eighth ended on a flyball from Moustakas and a score of 5-0.
For the ninth inning, the Royals brought in Luke Hochevar. Dioner Navarro reached base on an error, but no other Toronto batter was able to break the shut out, allowing the game to end with the Royals on top, 5-0.
With a Game 1 win under the belt, the Royals would play again the following evening at Kauffman Stadium, hoping to extend their lead in the series to 2-0. The Royals would have to make sure their bats stay hot, as they pitch the young Yordano Ventura against the veteran, David Price.