Edinson Volquez fired six scoreless innings and the bullpen held the fort to send the Royals to a 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night in Game 1 of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. It’s the first time Volquez has been able to complete the sixth inning in a post-season start.
The Royals got on the board in the third inning against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada when Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar each doubled to right field to push across a run. Lorenzo Cain brought Escobar home shortly thereafter with a single. Catcher Salvador Perez tacked on a solo home run in the fourth — his third round-tripper in the post-season thus far. Estrada finished having allowed the three runs on six hits and no walks with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
The Blue Jays mounted their biggest threat in the top of the sixth inning against Volquez, drawing back-to-back walks to open up the frame. Edwin Encarnacion struck out, Chris Colabello lined out, and Troy Tulowitzki struck out squelch the rally. Volquez had to throw 37 pitches in the sixth inning to escape danger.
Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect seventh with two strikeouts. In the eighth, Ryan Madson allowed a one-out single and a walk, but wriggled out of trouble when he got Justin Smoak — pinch-hitting for Encarnacion — to pop up and Colabello to ground out. The Royals added insurance in the bottom of the eighth as Eric Hosmer hit an RBI double to right field and Kendrys Morales hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
Luke Hochevar took the mound in the top of the ninth with a five-run lead. He had to work around a one-out fielding error by third baseman Mike Moustakas, getting Kevin Pillar to hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice and Ryan Goins to fly out to left field.
The Blue Jays led the major leagues in offense, averaging 5.5 runs per game. They were shut out just five times in 162 games during the regular season.