Royals at their best when behind

By Steve Sell
October 19, 2015

Maybe the Kansas City Royals should make this request to the commissioner’s office — let us start Game 3 tonight in Toronto down 3-0.

It seems like that’s when the Royals do their best work — when they’re behind. Whether it’s four runs like Game 4 against Houston (and down 2-0 in Game 5) or 3-0 in Game 2 on Saturday against Toronto, the Royals change their approach and put the ball in play instead of trying to be all-pull happy to hit the ball out of the park.

The Royals must feel like no deficit is insurmountable. Against David Price in Game 2, they were one pitch away from having been no-hit for six innings (actually perfect-gamed). Yet in the seventh, it was a harmless pop fly that fell for a single by Ben Zobrist that was a firestarter to a five-run inning where the Royals peppered the ball all around zany Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals did what they’re supposed to do. They held serve by winning the first two games at home and even in a worse-case scenario, they’re assured of coming back home to play again, whether it’s against Toronto or against the National League winner.

Kansas City’s pitchers have done an excellent job of keeping Toronto in the park as the fence-busting Bluejays have been shackled to three runs in two games. The “40 Club” of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t had a chance yet to perfect their bat flips or home run trots. 

The scene shifts to the Rogers Center bandbox tonight and I will make this prediction right now — somebody will homer for Toronto, even if it would be nothing more than a long out at spacious Kauffman Stadium.

And we get a chance to see if Johnny Cueto’s series-clinching game against Houston is now the norm for the rest of the playoffs or whether that was an aberration. Cueto was masterful against the Astros in easily the best game he’s pitched since being acquired from Cincinnati. Maybe the playoffs have stirred his juices, not to mention the better he pitches in the playoffs, the more money he’s going to command on the open market.

I think the Royals will win one of three in Canada and send the series back to The K needing to just win once. The Rogers Center will be a din and hopefully the Bluejays' fans will keep their garbage to themselves and not litter the field as they did in the Rangers series.