Edinson Volquez steps up, then runs out of gas as Royals lose

"I lost my rhythm," Edinson Volquez said. "My rhythm was off coming to the plate." Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO -- In a game that ultimately ended in defeat, Edinson Volquez showed the Kansas City Royals he can be somebody to lean on if they make it to the World Series.

Volquez continued his postseason rise, sporting his best fastball of the season, and kept his team in the game until it all began to get away in the sixth inning. He ultimately unraveled when a couple of close calls went against him, and the Toronto Blue Jays finished off a 7-1 victory.

The Royals' lead in the American League Championship Series was cut to 3-2, with Game 6 in Kansas City, and Game 7 there as well, if necessary.

Volquez isn't expected to pitch in either of the remaining ALCS games, unless he makes a surprise relief appearance, but he has set himself up for a potential Game 1 start in the World Series if the Royals get the one last victory over the Blue Jays they are looking for.

"Everybody is going to contribute and [Volquez] had a great day today, he just had one inning get away from him and that happens," teammate Mike Moustakas said. "He did a great job against [them] today and he's been huge for us in the postseason and the regular season."

Volquez entered Wednesday having thrown 200⅓ innings in the regular season and another 11⅔ in the postseason. Those postseason innings include a scoreless outing in Game 1.

And even with all that mileage, he was pushing 98 mph with his fastball. In fact, Volquez hit 98 mph on the radar gun four times in the first inning after not reaching that number at all in the regular season.

"I found out when I went back to the dugout and [Yordano] Ventura and [Johnny] Cueto were looking at me like, 'Hey, where are you taking it today?' " Volquez said. "I don't know. There was a lot of energy, it was a big game for me and I just tried to give it everything I got to our team."

Volquez might have learned something while stepping on the gas pedal as hard as he could. He thought he felt fine heading into the mound for the sixth inning with the Royals trailing 1-0, but it became apparent fairly quickly that his command of his fastball was no longer the same.

"I lost my rhythm," Volquez said. "My rhythm was off coming to the plate. It was hard for me to get comfortable in that inning because [Blue Jays starter Marco] Estrada was pitching the same way, in the same spot, and was making a hole close to the rubber. I had to jump to the plate instead of staying back like I did in the first couple of innings."

Volquez walked Ben Revere to lead off the sixth and hit Josh Donaldson with a pitch. He then locked into a 10-pitch duel with Jose Bautista, throwing nine consecutive fastballs before walking him on a breaking ball that could have gone either way.

When he walked Edwin Encarnacion to force in a run, his day was done.

"I was trying to stay down and away from them," Volquez said. "The only guy I was trying to go inside on was Donaldson and the ball got away from me and I hit him. That was the whole game. They didn't hit me hard today, so I got in trouble myself walking a few guys."

Perhaps the ultimate positive in the disappointing defeat is that Volquez set the blueprint for how Ventura can beat the Blue Jays in Game 6 on Friday. There will be more margin for Ventura too, since Kauffman Stadium plays much larger than Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays might not have hit Volquez consistently hard in Game 5, but Chris Colabello took him deep for a second-inning home run.

"I have to call him my daddy; he got me," Volquez joked.

He didn't give the Royals the victory they wanted, but Volquez still flashed his big smile. It showed the Royals are not feeling the pressure just yet. That's what heading home will do for you.

"We knew it was going to be a tough series," manager Ned Yost said. "But after winning the first two games, in reality your goal is to come to Toronto, and kind of, a foreign environment, a hostile environment, and at least win one. Then you get to go home and win one there and the series is over.

"Now we're going back to a place where we're completely comfortable. That's why home field was so important to us. We really wanted to play four games in our park. And we're taking a 3-2 lead back to where we are comfortable and back to our home fans that support us and are fantastic."