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Edinson Volquez shuts down Blue Jays as Royals take ALCS Game 1

Edinson Volquez of the Kansas City Royals throws

Edinson Volquez of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium on Oct. 16, 2015 in Kansas City, Mo. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rob Carr

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Edinson Volquez was front and center in the fireworks show that erupted the previous time these teams had met.

The Royals righthander hit Josh Donaldson in an Aug. 2 game at Rogers Center and, after the Blue Jays' victory that included a bench-clearing incident, fanned the flames further by accusing the third baseman of "crying like a baby" to the plate umpire.

On the eve of his start in Game 1 of the ALCS, Volquez, who pitches with his share of emotion, exuded calm.

"It's over with. We've got to move forward," he said. "I'm going to pitch my own game."

That proved to be plenty.

The 32-year-old, 0-3 with an 8.76 ERA in his postseason career coming in, shut down baseball's top offense in six shutout innings, helping the Royals to a 5-0 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 39,753 at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals are three victories away from returning to the World Series, where they lost a seven-game thriller to the Giants a year ago.

Volquez, a free agent signing before the season who went 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA, allowed two hits and four walks. He struck out five.

Volquez's most critical inning was a 37-pitch sixth inning in which he, with a 3-0 lead, walked Donaldson and Jose Bautista, each on nine pitches. The pitcher struck out slugger Edwin Encarnacion looking, got Chris Colabello to line to left and struck out Troy Tulwitzki looking at a 95-mph fastball.

The Royals bullpen, one of baseball's best as it was a year ago, continued the shutout. Righthander Kelvin Herrera, with an assortment of 100 mph fastballs, threw a perfect nine-pitch seventh. Righty Ryan Madson allowed a one-out single and walked Jose Bautista with one out in the eighth but got Justin Smoak, pinch-hitting for Encarnacion, who left the game to get X-rays on the middle finger of his left hand, to pop out. Colabello grounded into a force for the third out.

After the Royals added two in the eighth against LaTroy Hawkins to make it 5-0, righthander Luke Hochevar worked a scoreless ninth.

Blue Jays righthander Marco Estrada, who won the crucial Game 3 of the ALDS when the Blue Jays were facing eliminationj, was OK Friday night. He allowed three runs and six hits, including Salvador Perez's solo homer, in 51/3 innings.

The Royals had eight hits, with leadoff man Alcides Escobar doubling in his first two at-bats, the second of which made it 1-0 in the third inning.

The Royals stranded Escobar in the first. The shortstop, coming off a 6-for-21 (.286) ALDS, ripped the first pitch he saw, an 89-mph fastball, into the corner in right. Estrada fell behind Ben Zobrist 3-and-0 before the second baseman flew to right. Lorenzo Cain grounded back to Estrada, who caught Escobar straggling between second and third, eventually tagging him out, which allowed Cain to pull into second. Eric Hosmer then grounded out.

The Blue Jays had their first runner in scoring position in the third. Kevin Pillar walked and Ryan Goins' sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Volquez got out of it, inducing a fly ball to center by Ben Revere and a grounder to short from Donaldson.

Alex Gordon led off the third with a double and, after Alex Rios struck out, Escobar reached out and poked a first-pitch curveball down the rightfield line to make it 1-0 Zobrist grounded out, moving Escobar to third, and Cain punched a single to right to make it 2-0. The hit extended Cain's postseason hitting streak to 10 games.

The Royals made it 3-0 with with two outs in the fourth as Perez smacked his third homer of the postseason, driving a first-pitch fastball to left.


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