KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals not only won the all-important first game of the American League Championship Series, they did it in impressive style Friday with timely hitting and solid pitching behind Edinson Volquez.
The Royals' pitching staff is also forming something of a brotherhood as Volquez admitted his outing in Game 1 on Friday was inspired by Johnny Cueto's success in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the AL Division Series on Wednesday against the Houston Astros.
Yordano Ventura, who pitches for the Royals on Saturday, has been the weakest link of the club’s three starting pitchers thus far, giving up six runs on eight hits over just seven combined innings of two starts in the ALDS.
As a staff, the Royals have set a franchise record with 16 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason.
But it hasn’t just been about pitching as the Royals lead all playoff teams in runs scored (30) and are second to the Chicago Cubs with a .451 slugging percentage. The Royals might pride themselves on being a balanced offense in their spacious ballpark, but they have also hit nine home runs in these playoffs and lead all teams with 88 total bases.
WHO’S UP: Ventura now gets his chance to keep the line moving after Cueto finished off his ALDS-clincher start by retiring the last 19 Astros he faced, and Volquez fired six scoreless innings Friday. In just two starts against the Blue Jays, Ventura has been successful, going 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA over 12 innings. The Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson and Chris Colabello have combined to go just 2-for-12 (.167) lifetime against Ventura, although Jose Bautista is 3-for-5 (.600) against the right-hander with a home run.
WHO’S HOT: Lorenzo Cain continues to look at home in the postseason, with a 10-game hitting streak in the playoffs dating to Game 4 of last year’s World Series. It is the second longest postseason hit streak in Royals history, behind the 11-game streak Amos Otis put together between playoff appearances from 1978 to 1980.
WHO’S NOT: Mike Moustakas is still looking to join the Royals’ hit parade in this year’s playoffs. In six games, he is just 2-for-22 (.091) and has struck out four times. It has been an unexpected downturn from a player who finished the regular season on a seven-game hitting streak, going 10-for-27 (.370) in that stretch. He also went 18-for-53 (.340) over his last 14 games played of the regular season.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: A victory in Game 2 of the ALCS would put the Royals in strong position with a 2-0 lead, with the series headed for Canada next week. Not only has this current incarnation of the Royals won five consecutive ALCS games dating to last season’s sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, the franchise is also on an eight-game ALCS win streak dating to 1985. The franchise with the most consecutive ALCS victories is the Orioles, who had a 10-game streak from 1969-73.