KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals have established a reputation for dramatic postseason comebacks the past couple of years, beginning with last season's AL wild-card victory over Oakland.
Turns out, the Blue Jays have some never-say-quit spirit as well.
After going on a second-half run to make the playoffs, then rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat Texas in a best-of-five matchup, the Blue Jays will try to beat the Royals in another win-or-else situation in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series tonight.
Toronto forced the series back to Kansas City with a 7-1 rout Wednesday, closing to 3-2.
"You look at all the elimination games, our offense has really come to life," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Thursday. "We've said all along that's the key to our team, scoring runs. You hate to make a habit of it, but maybe we can pull it off again."
David Price will take the mound for the Blue Jays after his collapse in Game 2, when the former Rays ace tossed six shutout innings, then surrendered five runs in the seventh.
Yordano Ventura will oppose him for Kansas City. He was only marginally better, allowing three runs and eight hits in 5⅓ innings before watching the comeback win from the dugout.
"I'm very fortunate and happy that this game has landed on my turn, here in Kansas City, and with the opportunity to take this club to the World Series," Ventura said through catching coach Pedro Grifol, acting as a translator. "I'll be ready for this game."
Toronto lost the first two games of the ALDS against the Rangers at home, then won three straight with its season hanging in the balance. The first two were at Texas, and the last at Rogers Centre, but none of the victories was even close — all by at least three runs.
The Blue Jays lost the first two in Kansas City, too. But in Game 3 in Toronto, the hosts overcame a 1-0 deficit and rolled to an 11-8 victory.
"We've been through a bunch of hurdles all year," Blue Jays outfielder Chris Colabello said. "We were 7½ games (back) at the deadlines. We had to claw back from that. We were down two games back in the division series, and we clawed back from that. I'll tell you what, we're going to leave everything we have out there."
The big question is which starting pitchers will show up.
For the Jays, will it be the Price who was dominant for six innings earlier this series, recording 18 straight outs at one point? Or the rattled former Cy Young Award winner who, when an easy popup fell for a single, proceeded to allow five runs in defeat, falling to 0-7 in seven career playoff starts?
"I know what I'm capable of doing, and I think everybody in this room knows what I'm capable of doing," he said. "I just kind of want to do it too bad. And it's long overdue for me to get a win as a starter in the playoffs, and I'll be ready to change that story (today)."
For the Royals, will it be the Ventura who tossed seven innings of three-hit ball in the must-win Game 6 of last year's World Series? Or the shaky 24-year-old who has a 6.57 ERA in the postseason? "I'm just happy to be able to bring the series back home to Kansas City," he said, "and I'll be ready (today) to pitch and perform for my club."