KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals and Blue Jays promise plenty of fireworks in their AL Championship Series that opens tonight, and not just because one team features power arms and the other power bats.
The teams already have played a contentious set of games this season, including a matchup in Toronto marked by two bench-clearing incidents. And while both sides said during Thursday's workouts that previous rancor has been forgotten, the emotionally charged atmosphere of playoff baseball means there could be some short fuses.
"It's over with. We've got to move forward," said the Royals' Edinson Volquez, who is scheduled to start Game 1 and was arguably the biggest instigator when the teams met in August.
Volquez's inside pitching led to the first of those bench-clearing moments. After the game, he called Blue Jays star Josh Donaldson "a little baby" for complaining about his inside pitching.
Asked whether he intends to pitch inside tonight, Volquez replied: "Of course."
"I don't know if it's going to be an issue," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But we'll pitch inside aggressively. That's a power-laden club over there."
The Blue Jays start Marco Estrada tonight.
The franchises met once before in the ALCS, with the Royals rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the first year of seven-game series. The last two wins came in Toronto, and the Royals went on to beat the Cardinals for their only World Series triumph.
NOTABLE: David Price, the former Rays ace who is scheduled to start Game 2 for Toronto, is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in six career games against the Royals. … After facing left-handers in four of their five ALDS games against Texas, the Blue Jays are likely to face mostly right-handers against the Royals. Toronto hit .266 against righties this season, tied with Kansas City for fourth-best in the majors. … Even without closer Greg Holland, who recently had Tommy John surgery, the Kansas City bullpen is among the best in baseball, led by former Rays RHP Wade Davis. … While the Blue Jays often pummel opponents with the long ball, the Royals rely on speed, defense and making contact at the plate.