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Royals blank Blue Jays 5-0 behind Edinson Volquez’s strong outing to take 1-0 ALCS lead

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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 Smoakpinch-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.

The ALCS continues on Saturday at 3:30 PM EDT with David Price starting for the Blue Jays against Yordano Ventura of the Royals.

Nationals’ major leaguers to continue offering financial assistance to minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
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On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.

After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.

Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.

The full statement:

Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.

We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.

We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.

Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.